Community Managers: What They Do, Why You Need Them - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Telecom
Commentary
3/3/2011
02:19 PM
Claire Flanagan
Claire Flanagan
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Community Managers: What They Do, Why You Need Them

With the emergence of social collaboration tools and the impact they have on employee and customer communities, community management has emerged in a critical role.

When I began my own journey in social collaboration a few years back, I heard that community managers were critical to the success of a company's community, yet I found very little practical advice. While I had extensive experience with communities of practice within my organization, I knew this space would challenge what I knew.

As recently as five months ago, I was on a mission to locate a good definition of "communities" and a companion definition for "community manager."

Finding a good solid definition of "communities" was hard to locate, although I found two that I liked: one is a conceptual diagram, and the other is a business definition.

Dion Hinchcliffe's illustration The Next Generation Enterprise: An Emerging Focus on Social Business Processes and Relationships conveys the interrelationship between an organization's internal and external communities, social media, and Enterprise 2.0 efforts in an overall social strategy.

But the most practical definition I've found is contained in Stan Garfield's "Communities Manifesto," a timeless definition focused on the business practice:

"Communities are groups of people who, for a specific subject, share a specialty, role, passion, interest, concern, or a set of problems. Community members deepen their understanding of the subject by interacting on an ongoing basis, asking and answering questions, sharing information, reusing good ideas, solving problems for one another, and developing new and better ways of doing things."

One of Hinchcliffe's blog posts describes the community manager as the "jack of all trades." In a later post, Hinchcliffe suggests the definition includes "functional oversight of social activity on a network to achieve objectives" such as "eliciting participation and knowledge sharing, managing the organization's community objectives, and providing support as well as the day-to-day maintenance and operation of the community itself."

Another definition worth checking out is one provided by industry analyst and former community manager Jeremiah Owyang. His "Four Tenets of the Community Manager" defines these tenants as "community advocation, brand ambassadorship, online communication skills, and product requirements gathering and improvements."

Connie Bensen is another individual worth following in this space. She blogs regularly on the topic of community management and recently evolved and updated her definition of the community manager.

Newly appointed community managers can now readily locate and connect with peers to learn, share, and advance their competency in this discipline.

Rachel Happe and Jim Storer founded the Community Roundtable a little over 18 months ago "to further the discipline of community management and provide practitioners a place to find peers, best practices, and resources to help them approach their day-to-day tasks." As Rachel is also writing columns for The BrainYard, I'll let her expand on the Community Roundtable and its incredible value for community managers.

The 2.0 Adoption Council, founded by Susan Scrupski, "is a member-driven peer forum of business and IT leaders from large organizations intent on sharing concrete experiences, examining business implications, learning from peers and creating and capturing value from the emergent, unstructured data associated with Web 2.0 / Enterprise 2.0." While members of this council are driving initiatives and programs, many are also community managers.

Finally, there are many industry conferences available now for the social media practitioner and community manager. UBM's own TechWeb brand just added a community management track at its November 2010 Enterprise 2.0 Santa Clara conference.

There are probably a number of other community management definitions that exist. And if the debate on clarifying Enterprise 2.0 vs. Social Business is any indication, a year from now we still may not agree on a solid definition for community management.

But one thing is true. With the emergence of social collaboration tools and the impact they have on employee and customer communities, community management has emerged in a critical, vital role.

Yet how do we prepare new community managers for their role? What skills are required? What does a community manager do every day? And how can you measure a successful community?

These are the topics I hope to address and discover with your help in the coming monthly posts.

Claire Flanagan is a director of knowledge management and enterprise social collaboration and community strategy in CSC's Office of Innovation. Follow her on Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are Claire's and do not reflect the views of her employer, nor do they reflect her employer's intentions, plans, or strategies.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
Slideshows
Top-Paying U.S. Cities for Data Scientists and Data Analysts
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  11/5/2019
Slideshows
10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  11/1/2019
Commentary
Study Proposes 5 Primary Traits of Innovation Leaders
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  11/8/2019
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Getting Started With Emerging Technologies
Looking to help your enterprise IT team ease the stress of putting new/emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning and IoT to work for their organizations? There are a few ways to get off on the right foot. In this report we share some expert advice on how to approach some of these seemingly daunting tech challenges.
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll