Organizations are now starting to say, “Hey, communities aren’t a tool. They’re part of our strategic footprint, part of our customer and partner relations” and are giving them the strategic and operational attention they require to succeed.
Online community management has (finally) risen to the rank of a being a respected and understood profession. Practitioners now have official titles, proper job descriptions, and sometimes even a bit of budget to allocate. And, due to that well-earned honor, we carry a recognized responsibility to be the voice of the customer, partner or employee for the organization. As the champions of human interaction, enabling a vibrant exchange of ideas and shepherding member-created insights to the forefront of the business so they can be acted on in tangible ways is an essential part of the role. And it doesn’t stop here. Due to the elevation of the profession, community managers are experiencing unprecedented levels of visibility within the organization.
Sorry, the party’s over. The days of social media celebration are gone. It’s not as if a random collection of “Likes” and “followers” had any real meaning but, hey, it was fun to watch the cool kids all get drunk at the bar of social media promises.
It’s time to sober up and put the kids to work. Business executives, in the parent role, have arrived on the scene and are calling for more focus on business goals and authentic measures of success. The caretakers are taking a hard line as social business enters young adulthood. So how do the kids win the trust of those parents in the executive suite? Where is the Kevin Bacon for this social media “Footloose” story? Learning to think critically about business concerns and addressing the needs of the business execs is the burning question for today.
Online communities are not a new phenomenon, but they are now capturing the hearts and minds of social media users around the globe. There seems to be an online community for every walk of life or group. But the underlying operations of a given community can vary drastically, depending on whether it is consumer-focused or a business-to-business community. If you are building or running an online community, or a member of one or more, it is important to understand the differences to maximize the value of your online home. Some organizations do not realize there are a variety of different online community models to explore – each with its own set of benefits and challenges. Below is a brief overview of the different types of community models:
As I sit at my desk thinking about a new blog post topic, I struggle to write. Not because of…
Failure. It’s not a word anyone likes. Yet it is common occurrence with innovation projects. When projects fail, there’s a natural inclination to avoid looking for the reasons why. This is especially true for online customer communities. A failure with customers (Ouch!) is far more painful than any internally-facing problem, because it touches the people and companies that are core to the organizations’ success.
Times have changed and communities, advanced. We live in a world where we can gain instant access to connections and information about everything from a specialist’s point of view to travel suggestions to how to fix a fussy smartphone app. These changes are unarguably for the better. However, there are core principles about online community that John Coate’s presentation — indeed, his whole body of work — remind us are a fundamental part of whatever flavor of online community building we do. Starting in 1992, and revised twice since, Coate’s wrote an essay called “InnKeeping in CyberSpace” which still serves as an up-to-the-minute guide to online community best practices.
So no to social media muddle and focus on the customer journey.
So here are 10 things I think a skilled community manager brings to the organization – and the community – they support: