Adam T. Sutton

Community Managers in Social Media

August 12th, 2010

The time for companies to get more value from online conversations is fast approaching, says Wendy Lea, CEO, Get Satisfaction, a social application provider.

Social media can help satisfy a variety of business goals — such as cutting support costs and informing product design — but who is responsible for ensuring these goals are well met? The likely answer for most companies is no one.

Lea sees the need for a new role, a community manager, at many companies. This person would interact with an online community and ensure it yielded real business results.

“This is a non-trivial leadership role that I do not think most companies have really begun to understand how to take advantage of,” Lea says.

The key responsibilities and traits of a good community manager are still up in the air, Lea says. However, the person will likely need to have:
o Strong command of brand voice and style
o Strong writing skills
o Deep knowledge of company products and service
o Ability to work with multiple branches of the business

“I think this is a very complex and sophisticated role that sits right in the middle of CRM,” Lea says. “It’s a whole other skill and knowledge set. I know there are some books about it, but how many corporations are really making sure their folks involved in this are developed to do the work rather than just picking people who understand social media?”

Get Satisfaction is planning a pioneer effort to train community managers for other companies, Lea says. Although the role is somewhat undefined today, you can expect announcements and more information from her team over the next six months.

Does your team have a community manager? Please tell us about them in the comments…

Adam T. Sutton

About Adam T. Sutton

Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter, MarketingSherpa
Adam generates content for MarketingSherpa's Email and Inbound Marketing newsletters. His years of experience in interviewing marketers and conveying their insights has spanned topics such as search marketing, social media marketing, ecommerce, email and more. Adam previously powered the content behind MarketingSherpa's Search and Consumer-marketing newsletters and carries that experience into his new role. Today, in addition to writing articles, he contributes content to the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa blogs, as well as MECLABS webinars, workshops and summits.

Prior to joining MarketingSherpa, Adam was the Managing Editor at the Mequoda group. There he created content and promotions for the company's daily email newsletter and managed its schedule.

Categories: Marketing Careers, Social Networking Evangelism Community Tags: ,

  1. August 12th, 2010 at 18:44 | #1

    Great post, Adam!

    And it’s so true. It gets even more interesting when your site has an established community (like AND you have that kind of external community, lurking on and off the site, on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.

  2. August 16th, 2010 at 17:18 | #2

    We offer a specialised business service that covers all different areas of business. We are about to embark on a more social media and want to appoint a manager. Are we best to have someone who understands social media and has good management skills to then appoint other people in the business to answer certain question that come up?

  3. August 17th, 2010 at 07:42 | #3

    A Community Manager can be a huge benefit for every company that provides a great product, making it easy to build a community in the first place (as the customers become passionate about the product).

    Unfortunately, it’s hard to come up with convincing metrics that prove the usefulness of a Community Managers. Therefore, the role is still not widely accepted and you need visionary companies to take the “risk” and hire people for this important position.

  4. August 17th, 2010 at 08:28 | #4

    Hi Christie — The community manager’s role is not clearly defined today, so it is hard to answer directly. However, I believe it’s possible for a community manager to handle direct interaction with members and to get input from team members, rather than training an entire company on proper community etiquette.

  5. August 18th, 2010 at 09:56 | #5

    Great points Adam. Here at CSC we created an on-line network of communities called WikonnecT, which was launched in September 2008. WikonnecT has more than 150 global communities to support customer projects, knowledge-sharing solution-based communities, and topically based communities using social networking technology to support business needs. Each of these communities has a community owner who is responsible for the care and feeding of that community – providing new content, ensuring that message board posts are responded to, blogging for the community, etc… As you stated this is a complex role and it requires someone who is knowledgeable about the nature of the business that community supports as well as the clients being supported, in addition to the marketing skills that you mentioned.

    We provide support for community owners via on-line forums, conference calls, webinars, personal face-to-face training, and a help desk where questions / issues can be submitted. We also created the role of WiMaster (I serve in that role), whose responsibility is to support the communities and community owners and to set direction for WikonnecT.

    As you stated, many of these skills are learned on-the-job, and we continue to learn (and share) every day

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