Social Media from the Frontline: Dan Barrett

By Rob McNair

NAME: Dan Barrett

COMPANY: Guinness World Records

ROLE: Community Manager

TWITTER HANDLE: @GWRnews (@dangerawesome – personal)



I came to Guinness World Records two years ago, when they bought bragster, the social-networking/video company I was working for at the time. Since then, I’ve been a part of GWR’s 5-strong digital team, working on growing our Facebook and Twitter communities, providing customer service for all aspects of the company, and promoting new products through social channels. We’ve also launched Challengers, our online record-setting platform –a free, fast, and easy way to become a world record holder from the comfort of your own home! It’s a wonderfully diverse role, and I get to meet plenty of interesting and superlative people along the way, such as 8ft 3in tallest man Sultan Kosen, who I’m posing with above.


The best thing about working in a job such as this is the huge range of people you get to interact with and help out every day, especially at a globally-recognised brand such as GWR.  On a given day I’ll answer questions from people in the Philippines and Nigeria (did you know they call themselves 9jas online?), share records set on several continents, approve videos from various North American and European Challengers, and speak to colleagues in New York, Beijing, and Tokyo.

Websites wise, I’m a Twitter addict (though you may find my personal stream impenetrable if you’re not into board/card games), I rarely don’t have tabs open for all our social presences, and use a lot of Google translate, basecamp, and For fun, you’ll find me watching gaming streams on, posting on various forums for the things I’m into, or laughing at cat videos on BuzzFeed.

Companies I like online are those that really take the time to understand and deliver what their customers want, make them feel special with personalised replies to questions, but above all else, are fun! My local Waterstones, @WstonesOxfordSt, is a great example of this, sharing hilarious tales of staff members including “new signing” Carlos Tevez and Gorax the Destroyer, while craft beer pub @brewdogcamden update daily with what guest beers are available, and invitations to tasting events.


Automated FourSquare check-in tweets (I don’t need to know when you get to the train station each day), people begging celebrities for RTs, obsessing over Klout scores, etc. Show-offy things, in short. I’m also annoyed by people who claim to have an impossible number of years of experience. Let’s put it this way: When I signed up to Facebook in 2005, only a handful of universities in the UK and US had been invited to join the site, registration was with a confirmed uni email address only, and there were no “pages” or adverts. Twitter didn’t exist yet, and MySpace was still relevant. Yet, I still regularly see profiles on LinkedIn claiming “10+ years Facebook page management experience” or similar. Be wary!

The post-acquisition version of Tweetdeck is just terrible, having removed many of its most useful features, such as filtering columns, and the ability to edit/quote retweet. Fortunately I’ve managed to get around this by reinstalling the old version, found on David Amador’s blog here, – I’d strongly advise you do the same.

As far as pre/mis-conceptions go, right now most people outside of the industry don’t really understand what a Community Manager does, leading to a lot of “so you just mess about on Facebook all day?” type questions, which can be frustrating. But, they’ll never know any different if you don’t educate them to the contrary!


Find out what it is your audience most want from your company. Then give it to them. Make them feel (deservedly) like they matter to you, that the opinions they choose to share with you can lead to positive change.

Apps: TwitSprout, Wildfire Monitor and Twocation all provide some basic, but totally free, insights into your Facebook page and Twitter feed, and may be all you need if you’re just starting out, or can’t afford the monthly subscription for a big boy monitoring service such as Radian6 or Sysomos Heartbeat.

If you’re managing a community of younger users, Urbandictionary, while primarily a humour site, is fantastic for learning the meanings of all the abbreviations they sling around.  Most of the time it’s totally harmless and any obvious swears will be caught automatically by the filters you’ve set up, but only if you’ve seen what diaf or gfys mean will you know to delete such comments.


I’m going to take a risk and suggest that Google Plus will never really take off, despite the recent announcement of 90 million users and increasing engagement rates. That “success” just isn’t what I’m seeing or hearing down here. I think it has a lot of great features (hangouts in particular), and I’ve made a concerted effort to make it work for me, but my network there is only getting quieter, and now my stream is just a trickle of 2 or 3 updates a day, always from the same people. Google’s track record with these experiments (Buzz, Wave) isn’t great, and more importantly, Facebook may be too deeply ingrained now. The key thing that attracts users to a social network is not features, but where there friends are – and for the vast majority of people, who don’t want to have to check multiple services, this is going to be Facebook.

On a more positive note, I think Codecademy, Square, and Gigwalk are all great and deserve to be huge, and I am hoping the latter two become available here in the UK at some point during 2012.

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This post was written by Rob McNair

Rob has experience advising some of the worlds most iconic brands. He thrives on helping improving social media knowledge within organisations with the ultimate goal of making theirs brands more social, transparent and accountable.