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Community Star Spotlight #3 Stephen Fell (TalkTalk)

Retired Community Manager

“Celebrate even the smallest joys and wins.”

Stephen Fell, Senior Online Engagement and Content Manager – TalkTalk


With any brand, customer satisfaction is key. When it comes to the telecommunications industry, the bar gets raised even higher – as customers expect nothing but stellar service, 24/7. And when something goes a bit askew, they aren’t afraid to go directly to the source to troubleshoot. That’s where Stephen Fell (@Fellsteruk) , TalkTalk’s fearless online engagement and content manager, comes into the picture. Listen to what he has to say about his experience at TalkTalk in the video below and then continue on to get a few valuable words of advice that every community manager should always live by.



What is the most common trait you see among your community members?

Our community is emotional – not because they are, by nature, a dramatic assortment of customers, but rather because they’ve likely come to one of our social channels as a last resort to get a problem resolved. Who would blame them? If your television service goes out or your wifi connection has dropped – and you are telephone averse, as many of us are these days – the first instinct is to vent via social, in hopes that there’s someone on the other side who can help. But the community members I love most are our Super Users and advocates – their willingness and desire to help others in the community never ceases to amaze me. What’s resulted from this interaction is a community of friends, a community of sharers, a community that’s got each other’s back. Now that’s real engagement!


Every job has its obstacles. In your role, what obstacle have you had to overcome?

I think almost everyone who works in social would agree that the biggest obstacle we all face is budget. Even in the most social-savvy companies, convincing senior stakeholders to invest in tools like peer-to-peer social service platforms always seems to be an uphill battle. But with a little persistence – and a lot of perseverance – anything is doable. In fact, it took me about two years of working with Lithium before I was given the budget to make the move. What I’ve learned is this: it’s critically important to demonstrate how an investment in community helps deliver on broader business goals as well as what ROI looks like in that scenario. Once you’ve created a solid business case, budget soon becomes an afterthought.


What would you say are your top 3 tips for managing a successful community?

I could say a lot here, but here’s what immediately comes to mind:


  • Be Open and Honest: Never promise something you can’t deliver. Being open and honest with others is equally as important as being open and honest with yourself. You’ve got to set realistic expectations and strive to over-deliver whenever you possibly can. Otherwise, you’ll just set yourself up for failure.
  • Celebrate Success: It’s easy to get bogged down with day-to-day tasks. We’re all overloaded with work – and that growing to-do list isn’t going to get smaller anytime soon. But one thing I know to be true is that each day is filled with successes. Some big, some small. So take the time to celebrate. It’s a nice way to break up all the fire drills you’re likely dealing with everyday.
  • Love Metrics: Stay focused on business objectives and constantly strive to measure and prove the ways in which your efforts are delivering long-term value. It’s important to know what success looks like from your vantage point – and to be able to show, at a moment’s notice, how your work has led to successful results. And even if you don’t hit your goal every time, don’t worry. You learn from both the hits and the misses. Even more reason why metrics will become your best friend (if they aren’t already by now).




What makes Stephen a Lithium Rockstar? Here are some pretty stand out stats from his participation in the Lithium Community over the past year.




Stephen is the Senior Online Engagement and Content Manager over at UK-based TalkTalk. He leads the social engagement team, responsible for supporting and growing the company’s active, vibrant, and vocal community. He also collaborates on the development of content across both the B2C and B2B sides of TalkTalk’s business.  He is a Lithium Certified Community Manager, an Honored Contributor in our community and a Rockstar  in the Lithium Stars program. He could talk forever about anything Nissan, Nikon, Apple, and Lithium. Stephen’s journey into community management was recently featured via Community Manager Appreciation Day.



TalkTalk Telecom Group provides pay television, telecommunications, internet access, and mobile network services to businesses and consumers in the United Kingdom. TalkTalk has been a Lithium customer since 2013.


Starting to get jealous of everyone else's "thinking face"!


Great tips and thanks for sharing...I never thought I would see the words "love" and "metrics" in the same sentence! Good point though. Metrics are something I am currently trying to wrap my mind around


Great interview, thanks for sharing your thoughts, Stephen.


I would like to extend on the love for metrics piece: With tools like LSI and the platform metrics we have potent instruments to iteratively improve community elements: Try a new blog format, a different time to publish content, change a button placement or styling in studio for two week: Looking at the right metrics you can determine which is most impactful.


No you don't... Like my thinking face it's like I'm trying to eat my own hand lol the things Eric had us doing 🙂 


yeah you got the love metrics I both love and hate them but mainly love them as Claudius said they are often the key to sending you a path to sucsess or help you to see that your failing and so fail fast so you can divert your energy on the next great idea that we all have 🙂 


Good stuff @Fellsteruk.


Your "be open and honest" mantra resonates with me. In my previous role I inherited a bit of a mess and it was a long haul turning around the sentiment, repairing the damage done and ultimately building a significant number of advocates. I think being open and honest was crucial. 

Lithium Alumni (Retired)

I did a small victory dance when I read "Love Metrics" ^_^


You're lucky I didn't see this before yesterday @Fellsteruk  - may have quoted you in front of the whole CMC 2 group 😉


@CharlotteK You mean i missed out on your dance moves, My love for metric's was born out of your weekly whipping to track and understand them... There my best friend now !


Charlotte Dance

Lithium Alumni (Retired)

@Fellsteruk my dance moves look more like


(Man, don't get me started on gifs, really. It's dangerous)


Metrics and Excel can be boring - fact. When I was an intern, by boss forced reporting onto me, and when I became a manager, I decided to keep the responsibility: taking the time do track the numbers forces you to look at them, and helps you understand the results of your actions - and then it gets exciting! Plus, when you're lazy (like me), ou find hacks to make your work easier 🙂


Pivot tables are your friend!


@CharlotteK Not wanting to go off topic but im not sure whats worst... your dancing cat or your laundry hanging in the background 🙂