Most of the time when people or brands refer to a “community manager,” they are referring to someone that can manage the online relationships for a particular brand. Most community manager roles include blogging, tweeting, monitoring the web for online conversations and engaging when appropriate (and possibly a few other things). Although that may have been what the community manager’s role was it’s not going to be what the community manager’s role WILL BE moving forward.
As Dion Hinchcliffe mentions in his Zdnet post, the community manager needs to be a “jack of all trades.” Here is a visual to show what that might look like:
The reality is that the community manager is much more than someone who manages the online relationships for a brand. The community manager is the ring leader or the conductor that makes everything happen. The community doesn’t just include twitter followers or facebook fans but it also includes internal departments and relationships that also need to be grown and maintained in order to help build the social business or “enterprise 2.0″ structure within the company itself. As Dion points out in his article, the community manager might not have to do all of the above tasks (yet) but will definitely need to play a contributing role in things that go beyond the traditional community manager position. This is one of the reasons while I have been saying that community managers must have a business background.
Yes, the role of the community manager is still new and we are still trying to figure out exactly what that role needs to look like, many companies in fact are going to need several community managers to really make things happen. Keep in mind that we also need to be able to justify the community manager’s business impact and/or ROI. Community management like many other things within an enterprise is only useful if action is taken. It’s mindless drivel to have a community manager crank out reports and recommendations if there is no action that is taken.
Dion makes what I consider to be two absolutely crucial points in his article:
- “Part of the need for this wide skill set seems to be that since community management as a practice is still largely understood poorly (and consequently the need for it can be hard to understand) it is thus often poorly resourced.”
- “The hard won lesson of many early Enterprise 2.0 practitioners: You must plan for community management from the very beginning.”
I highly recommend you read Dion’s article on Zdnet as it also provides some guidelines/requirements on how to be successful with community management.
What do you think about the evolving role of the community manager? What do you think the role is going to look like and why?