The First Chief Community Officer

Jenna WoodulJenna Woodul was the first chief community officer. She and Peter Friedman co-founded LiveWorld, a company offering what are now known as community management services, more than 20 years ago.

Her professional backstory is a fascinating look at the history of our profession, including early BBS days at Apple, the transition to the World Wide Web and the evolution of community for business. Plus:

  • The opportunity of real-time messaging
  • Apple’s place as a pioneer in using digital community tools for business
  • Should community professionals aspire to the CCO title?

Big Quotes

“A lot of people don’t know about The WELL. If you talk to a lot of people now, they think this all started with Facebook.” -@JennaWoodul

“I was just kind of blown away by the potential of [online community]. I couldn’t stop yammering about it when I was at Apple. Sometimes that was well-received and sometimes it was just completely ignored. I was on fire with the whole idea and that had to do somewhat with my own experience with it. I had had so much fun meeting different people online. They’d really changed my ideas about the people that I might be friends with or the ages of people or where they might live or any of those kinds of things. The utility of it, our being able to support people online, was amazing to me. I love that.” -@JennaWoodul

“I think bots are important. Particularly with people’s permission, they can be used. I can even see situations where you’re talking to a human agent in a real-time situation, and they say, ‘Well, I think I can help solve this problem by using this little bot over here. Do you mind if I set that up for you? And then I’ll come back and check on you.'” -@JennaWoodul

“I think [having a chief community officer] means that the organization views their constituency as a community. If you think about Peter [Friedman, LiveWorld CEO] coming up with that title, it was a lot of foresight to see that that’s really what this was about. It wasn’t about chief online chat officer or chief online message board manager. It had to do with an understanding, an intuition that this was about a set of relationships that form a community.” -@JennaWoodul

“Social media, or the forming of relationships with one’s customers, isn’t necessarily something that’s going to stay [as a separate department]. … Whatever kind of business that you’re going to be doing with people, it becomes another way to do it, and it’s not necessarily something that’s separate from other parts of the organization.” -@JennaWoodul

About Jenna Woodul

Jenna Woodul is the executive vice president and chief community officer at LiveWorld. They help large companies improve their customer experience using social media. Jenna led various community efforts at Apple from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s, including AppleLink and eWorld. When Apple pulled the plug on eWorld, she helped start LiveWorld.

Related Links

In order of reference:


Your Thoughts

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Thank you for listening to Community Signal.


    I think that besides Jenna seeing immediately the potential for community, was her visionary understanding that it wasn’t something you put in the basement and forgot. Community/social needs to be baked in at the start, and the hub of any vibrant organization, no matter what size.

    It was a distinct pleasure to work with her at LiveWorld, and she has definitely been one of the top influencers in my two decade career with communities and social media. Through her work, she has influenced many thousands of others, and continues to do so. Kudos!

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