Staff Profile: Natus Vincere SMM coordinator

News / 20 May 2018 — 08:00

The SMM coordinator Alexander "Altair" Rogal

ua Natus Vincere is a team of creative people, each of whom has an interesting story to tell. Due to job specifics, some of them remain unnoticed and work modestly behind the scenes, but this by no means belittles their contribution to the common goal.

We'd like you to meet a man who knows for sure what NAVI fans like and engage with. The guest of today's Staff Profile is our SMM coordinator, ua Alexander "Altair" Rogal! Find out his best social media secrets, the platforms where NAVI-related content is posted and whether or not we have more haters than fans!

— Hey Alexander! Let's first go into some basic questions. Tell us a little about yourself. How old are you? Where do you come from? What were your childhood hobbies?

— Hey! I was born in Kyiv back in the times of the Soviet Ukraine, graduated from school and enrolled in  Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, but electronics, which I had intended to study, didn't work out for me, so I dropped out after one semester. I worked an odd-job selling video games and audiobooks on the Petrivka book market in Kyiv. Growing up, I wanted to be an archeologist! :D

— You entered Yalta University of Management, where you studied tourism economics and management, and then regional economics at Taurida National Vernadsky University. Why did you choose these subjects?

— What I really tried to do was move to some other place and put myself through drastic changes. When I first came to YUM, I wanted to learn more about each of the majors and thought that economics and tourism business was a cool thing. And I was right! Aside from the studies, we did many hiking trips and had our PE classes on the beach – we did running and distance swimming. I have no regrets. My university years were amazing. In my fourth year, I started doing some office work and then entered TNU in Simferopol to do extramural masters program. With YUM's bachelor’s degree, I had only two options – regional economics and international economics. I opted for an easier one. :D

— Do you apply the knowledge you gained during your studies now? How?

— As I've said already, I have no regrets about those five years, but it’s mostly because of the out-of-school activities. As for the curriculum... Well, I started understanding the nature of particular economic events which the country goes through, learned some commonly used terms and can now take you on an excursion around the city. ;)

— While studying, did you see yourself working in economics? Do you have any work experience in this sphere? Why didn't you continue to follow this path?

— I had some options in tourism but I couldn't make them work... Then, I got into the social media space and it all got started.

— How did you end up working online? Why did you go for social media marketing?

— I got an offer for social media marketing and did an interview. The company I applied for just started selling printed T-shirts, and they taught me how to target specific ads on VK. I went on to become a community manager there.

— Can you explain what does the job of an SMM manager involve?

— SMM is a branch which covers different social media platforms (social networks, messengers, and video hosting services). Each organization has different SMM tasks in mind. CIS employers often ask for too much and want to see the person specializing in all kinds of different spheres in this position. It's upsetting. CM (community management) is also an underestimated role here. Many people think that CM = SMM = customer support. :(

— How did you learn the ropes? Did you study on your own or used some tutorials?

— In 2012, we had very few Russian resources on this topic. Even on VK, there were hardly any groups aimed at community managers. I had to google a lot, read materials from different English resources (like, where people from all around the world shared their tips and experience. I kept in touch with a colleague from Belarus, who was also getting started in that area. Later, I moved back to Kyiv and secured a CM position in a good organization. My colleagues and the team leader helped me grow as a specialist. I still see them from time to time.

— Some people think it's easy to work with social media and that everyone can do it regardless of the education. What’s your opinion on that?

— It depends on what your tasks are. Even finding a picture and writing two caption sentences before publishing it can get problematic. Though it seems simple, you have to mind your grammar and think about the relevance of the topic, the target audience, and some other things. Social media analytics, for example, is a whole new level. Targeting ads on social media is even more complicated. But if you are a creative person with an eye to detail and good language skills (it’s even better if you speak both Russian and English), you can start working as a group content manager. This way, you will start gaining experience and skill. :)

— Do you think there’s a specific theoretical base which you need to master to become an SMM coordinator, or it's all about practice?

— Maybe, in 40 years when this specialization will be taught at schools, the students will learn the history of social media and other things. :D

But on a more serious note, there are things which can be viewed from a theoretical perspective. When the publication rules for any social media platform change, you have to figure out what you can post and what you can't – that’s theoretical. So now you have to work both on your theoretical and practical skills.

— There's so much information on SMM on the Internet, but what precisely should the person know to be successful in this line of work? Where can beginners find advice?

— The might of Google is always there for you. If you can't use the web search and find the necessary information, how can you work in IT? There are tons of useful information on social media platforms, for example, in special groups and public pages on VK. Google it and you will be rewarded! Also, don't be afraid to ask your colleagues for advice. That's why you include 'communication skills' in your CV. ;)

— Let's talk about your own career path. Even as a student, you worked as a community manager in game development organizations ARVARA and Renatus. Were you planning to get into the gaming industry or that was just a random choice?

— I wanted to become a programmer in the gaming sphere, but ended up a CM. I always say that there are many paths which can lead you to your ultimate goal, so you don't have to obsess over one particular path.

— Do you consider the time you worked for those organizations well spent? Did you gain valuable experience?

— Yes. ARVARA was my starting point. I did most of the learning and growing while in Renatus. I gained A LOT of experience.

— The next stage of your career has been NAVI. How did you land a job in the organization? Did you have any interest in esports before?

— I used to read the Igromania magazine, which featured CDs with demos from CS 1.6, StarCraft, and Warcraft 3 tournaments, but I lost my touch with all that eventually. Then, I started playing  League of Legends and following its competitive scene.

— How did you get into NAVI?

— I noticed a job opening on the website, read the description, figured, “Why not? I can do almost everything listed!” and just sent a CV. They got back to after some time. :)

— Did you have an interview? If so, how did it go?

— First, I spoke to a HR manager via phone, and then came to the office to meet her and SM Head in person. My third interview was with Yevhen Zolotarov.

— What were your first impressions of NAVI? What tasks were you performing at first?

— First, I tried to learn more about what the organization does and all its resources, gradually learned more about esports, made social media reports for our partners, wrote posts about our matches, new videos, etc.

— Has the range of your responsibilities expanded with time?

— Yes, substantially. After some time I was the only person left in the SMM department.

—What do you consider the most interesting and the most challenging aspect of your job?

— The most interesting is the chance to witness the expansion of social media, messengers and esports. The most challenging? Hm... I could write a series of memoirs on that topic :D.

— How many people do you oversee? What are the qualities that you value the most in people who you work with?

— Three content managers who create posts for , , , и . I value creativity, efficiency, and dedication. You can't work in a big organization without that last trait: the games take place at different times of the day and sometimes you have to stay awake all night or get up very early. Plus, we do not only watch games but also provide coverage, post highlights and reactions to different situations. For example, if the match lasts over 90 minutes, we can post something funny on Twitter, or something like "Alexandr Yurievich, please log out!" when there are two rapiers in the game :)

— Many say that social media are the future, as they are becoming so popular that even leading websites get to gradually lose their audience. Do you agree with that? What are the advantages of SM?

— I'd say that social media networks are becoming overloaded. People don’t have time to scroll through the entire feed trying to find something interesting, especially if it takes too long to refresh. That's why such messengers as Telegram, WeChat, etc, are evolving so fast. It's much easier to read a Telegram post with no pictures, but with a concise, informative overview, than open Facebook with tons of videos. That's it. I'm not an expert, and can't make statements like "social media websites are dying, the future is Х!"

— Perhaps, the most substantial advantage of social media is the chance to communicate with the audience. Do you chat with NAVI fans?

— It happens very often. We answer their questions: people write DMs, support or hate the team. During LANs, we communicate with the most interesting audience members in person.

— What's your secret of getting to know the audience better?

— There's no secret. You have to be open and try to answer everything without using bots. Many people like to get replies. It's better than using a program with three answer options.

— We can’t miss a chance to bring up this question: does NAVI have more haters or fans?

— Fans, obviously! :)

— What’s the right way to react to hate comments? Do you sometimes find constructive criticism in all the negativity?

— It depends on a situation and experience. It's hard to just give advice on that... There are lots of information from experienced community managers on this question. As for the negativity and criticism, yes, it's possible, but that’s not the point. At the office, we see the situation differently than our fans who can only watch games and read tweets. And when you read something like "disband the roster, kick this player, sign that player”, it gets pretty upsetting. Because you can't reveal what is really going on and what's planned.

— You coordinate all the social media websites. Could you list them?

—, , , , , .

— Each social media platform requires a specific strategy. Please, tell us a little more about those platforms where Natus Vincere is represented.

— On VK, we mostly have our Russian speaking audience from CIS. The remaining websites have more English-speaking fans, so we post English content there. We use Instagram for stories and live content. On Facebook, we have A LOT of our Dota 2 fans. We use Twitter… Well, to read ua Lil’s tweets! :D

— Do you have the organization which you use as a guideline? Why do you consider their SMM strategy successful?

— We try to adopt the most interesting and effective strategies from everywhere, and also come up with our own ideas.

— You've been following the games of different NAVI lineups for quite some time. The games of which rosters do you always watch?

— Dota 2, and CS:GO. I watched some Paladins at first to figure out how it works. Now, I'm trying to get the hang of PUBG.

— What about LANs? Have you ever been to LAN events?

— I have attended each StarLadder event in Kyiv since I joined the organization. Also, I was at  WESG in fall 2016 and at EPICENTER.

— Kyiv recently hosted the finals of SLi Invitational's fifth season. What are your impressions?

— The atmosphere was incredible! I don't know much about other events, but the LANs in Kyiv are always fantastic.

— How do you spend your leisure time? Do you like rock concerts? Sports? Movies?

— I don't like concerts, but I enjoy watching movies. I read books, watch streams and play. I like going out, and gluing/painting military models.

— Do you have time to play?

— Absolutely. I try out many new games, sometimes I play LoL or something else from my game library.

— You spent your vacation in Italy. Were you able to step away from work?

— Yes, I was able to do that fully. I read Twitter sometimes and watched a few games, but it didn't distract me from the atmosphere of another country.

— Share your impressions from the trip. Which place would you recommend to visit?

— Oh! Rome, Pisa, Florence, Bologna — each of these cities has beautiful places. St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican is a must-see; I'm not a religious person, but it impressed me a lot. Each city in Italy is unique because of its architecture. You must try their cuisine (each region has its own) and coffee.

— What country would you like to visit next?

— Hm. Canada!

— To conclude, we'd like to ask you a question which we hear from many fans of Born to Win. How can one get into NAVI?

— Become a great specialist, send your CV and believe in yourself! The paths to your goal can be very different.


What's your favorite music artist?
— I liked different music genres at different stages of my life. Now, it’s Undervud and Epidemia.

Which movies would you recommend?
— The classic Star Wars trilogy, The Green Mile.

What are the books that impressed you the most?
— Ivanhoe, The Witcher.

The best game to relax after a day at work?
— The real life around me!

The best way to spend the weekend?
— To sleep. To eat. Nature.

What’s your life motto?
— But where there's a monster there's a miracle.

Previous episodes of staff profile:

— motion designer
— designer