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Endorsed by the Chairman of KPMG, CEO of Whirlpool, CEO of Intuit, CEO of SAP, Gary Hamel & others!

The New Enterprise 2.0 Community Manager


Posted by on December 7, 2009

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:

community_manager_large

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:

  1. “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.”
  2. 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?

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  • http://twitter.com/rhappe Rachel Happe

    Hi Jacob – Dion shed a lot of great light on some of the complexities of community management. I'd also encourage you to check out my post on this topic – http://community-roundtable.com/2009/08/the-ice…. What we are finding working with community managers at large organizations is that only a small portion of their time is spending blogging/tweeting and most of their time is spent evangelizing internally, collaborating with peers in IT/Legal/HR/Mrktg/Support to coordinate, training colleagues, and tracking/reporting progress. Part of the challenge with the position is that it is multi-disciplinary and requires cross-functional understanding… really hard experience to find especially if you are marrying that with the need for content creation which is often found in a different type of person. I often differentiate a social media manager from a community manager for this reason but we're only just beginning to understand what works best in different business contexts.

    • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

      Hi Rachel, thanks for the comment. I'll check out that article you put together. Evangelizing is one of those words that can mean someone does either a ton of work or no work at all. I think what a community manager really needs to start doing is understanding the various aspects of business and understanding how to use new tools and technologies to make things more efficient. You hit the nail on the head, this role certainly requires someone that understands social business across business units. It also means that this person needs to be able to adapt and learn quickly.

      Thanks for your comments!

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  • niallcook

    I don't think the community manager is a “someone”. In most large organisations it needs thinking of as a discipline which might require a cross-company team, or in some cases a whole new department. The thing that's missing is the internal community focus – can't see any of that in there. I would have thought that “Knowledge Management” should warrant its own bubble.

    • querdekner

      I strongly agree with that, for small communities it might be sufficent to have one community manager, but for larger organizations one person will without doubt be not sufficent to fill this position.
      Furhtermore the jack of all trades is a position which also could be difficult to fulfill for just one person. The duties could be divided between all the community managers, favoring their individual abilities.

    • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

      The challenge with this is justifying the case for developing a new department with a new budget and a new team. Companies are just starting to experiment with this. We've been differentiating between internal and external social business strategies but they really need to work together to make things happen.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • http://www.gilyehuda.com Gil Yehuda

    Jacob,
    This is a very important topic for Enterprise 2.0. First of all, everyone who goes down the E2.0 path tells us that community management was critical to their success. Second of all, it's a net-new role for most companies — and this is a big deal from the perspective of staffing, organization, and cost. I don't mean to imply that you must now hire someone (you could though – interesting debate here), but that someone's role changes and this is a very visible change to the workplace that management has to accept to make this happen. But, and I say this with great respect to Dion, I think the above model can be very misleading to people who don't read or hear his full commentary. This is for three interconnected reasons:

    1. This model looks like the super-set of all things that a CM must do, or could do — it's unclear.
    2. Every company has different staffing and management needs — with different roles already in place.
    3. E2.0 recognizes that a community scales better than one dedicated resource — so why have one CM to serve as the “high priest”?

    The “Jack of all trades” model appears to be so overwhelming that it is doomed to fail. Who could possibly do all the things listed? no one of course. So listing them all can make many folks to conclude that this cannot be done, and then give up. The reality is that all these tasks need to be addressed — but depending on the specific company, you may already have people in place who can help. In any large organization (more than one department), you cannot have a CM operate as a single role and expect that person to scale and succeed. It is a communal role that is shared by a team or group. And they don't all have to report to the same person.

    I look forward to seeing this model develop and articulate the reality of successful community management. The 2.0 Adoption Council's Framework report (disclosure, which I wrote) discuses this topic and expands the concept of the community manager into a group of individuals who, together, scale better to address the specific needs of each E2.0 implementation (which differ company to company).

    • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

      Hi Gil,

      You definitely make some great points there. The above model is a bit all encompassing and overwhelming as you mentioned. It's a bit like asking one person to be a walking McKinsey. Companies such as Dell have an interesting approach to their external social media strategies in that they have a team of folks from various departments get together to discuss the strategy. I still there needs to be someone at the head of the table though to guide everything along.

      I think the definition of a community manager is also fairly skewed and undervalued. Many social media consultants define community management as someone that essentially monitors and build an online presence for a brand but as I'm sure you know, it's clearly much more than that so I think there is definitely some confusion amongst companies as to what is needed/expected from a comm. manager. Even once you identify the comm. manager role the next step is going to be to actually execute. It might sound silly so break it down into such detail but imagine what the comm. manager(s) daily role would look like. If this is serving multiple business units across the company how will that work? Does each geographic location needs it's own community manager or it's own team? This is one of those topics that are a bit hard to have via a blog post but I certainly welcome a chat with you and anyone else anytime and perhaps develop some workable models around this (and other issues).

      One person can definitely not manage global social business so yes, you definitely need more than one CM. It's actually interesting because after speaking with several companies at E2.0 in SF I was told by many co's that they actually have 1-2 people managing this on a global level. I need to read your framework report, do you have a link or can you send me a copy to my email?

      Thanks again for your insightful comments, hope to hear much more from you.

      • http://www.gilyehuda.com Gil Yehuda

        Jacob, of course — you need someone who has some sense of responsibility (emotional and work-wise) to make the role work. But many companies have yet to understand the nature of this role. For examples, if you look at the average pay for externally focused community managers (via job boards, glassdoors, or interviews) you'll find that many companies are simply looking for interns and admins with about 3-5 years of work experience. When looking at the internal C/M role (i.e. “Enterprise 2.0″ proper) the pay scale and expectations are higher — but still some companies give the role to people who are generally not very empowered or influential in the organization. Fortunately there are now many great examples of companies who are doing this well — and have empowered, respected, and very versatile people running their communities.

        Yes, when you are doing “Enterprise 2.0″ (as opposed to “Department 2.0″) you are, by definition, going to span groups and probably span locations. So your C/M role needs to be able to wield some influence and visibility beyond his/her own division. This implies someone who is more empowered and respected than an admin/intern — indeed someone who is a bit senior and has probably developed a very strong personal network within the company already. That kind of a person can serve as leader, and have a distributed team of helpers throughout the company. This is a model that scales and works. The single “Jack-of-all-Trades” model does not — or to be fair, I have never heard of any company that does this — and I speak to many companies in the E2.0 space. I'm always glad to learn of a real example of a single “jack” who does everything needed. I just don't expect to find this any time soon.

        As for the 2.0 Adoption Council reports, visit the 20adoptioncouncil.com site, and you'll find them there (email to request a copy). Currently the one that I referred to above is offered for a fee, so I cannot email you a copy. I can only suggest that it's well worth the reasonable price (I explain why on a recent post on my blog http://www.gilyehuda.com/enterprise-20/2-0-adop… which I invite you and your readers to read.)

        Thanks for bringing up this topic and facilitating this conversation. I'm looking forward to more conversations too.

        • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

          Hi Gil,

          Yes I agree the role is still completely underestimated. However I know several folks that were getting paid 120k+ to for community management that were not doing near any of the tasks mentioned above. But that is rare. I think one point that you touched upon above is crucial, the person (s) need to have a good network within the company. On an upcoming post I want to address the importance of communication mapping for a company and that's a great thing to mention in there.

          Interesting that you separated both internal and external community managers, how do you see these two roles interacting with one another as I see a lot of knowledge sharing that can be done between the two. I think that internal and external collaboration is going to be crucial in the years to come. It's exciting to be talking about these things now at such an early stage in the industry.

          Thanks again for your insights. I have some very interesting ideas for posts, would you be interested on collaborating an articles in the future?

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  • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

    The challenge with this is justifying the case for developing a new department with a new budget and a new team. Companies are just starting to experiment with this. We've been differentiating between internal and external social business strategies but they really need to work together to make things happen.

    Thanks for the comment!

  • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

    Hi Rachel, thanks for the comment. I'll check out that article you put together. Evangelizing is one of those words that can mean someone does either a ton of work or no work at all. I think what a community manager really needs to start doing is understanding the various aspects of business and understanding how to use new tools and technologies to make things more efficient. You hit the nail on the head, this role certainly requires someone that understands social business across business units. It also means that this person needs to be able to adapt and learn quickly.

    Thanks for your comments!

  • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

    The challenge with this is justifying the case for developing a new department with a new budget and a new team. Companies are just starting to experiment with this. We've been differentiating between internal and external social business strategies but they really need to work together to make things happen.

    Thanks for the comment!

  • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

    Hi Gil,

    You definitely make some great points there. The above model is a bit all encompassing and overwhelming as you mentioned. It's a bit like asking one person to be a walking McKinsey. Companies such as Dell have an interesting approach to their external social media strategies in that they have a team of folks from various departments get together to discuss the strategy. I still there needs to be someone at the head of the table though to guide everything along.

    I think the definition of a community manager is also fairly skewed and undervalued. Many social media consultants define community management as someone that essentially monitors and build an online presence for a brand but as I'm sure you know, it's clearly much more than that so I think there is definitely some confusion amongst companies as to what is needed/expected from a comm. manager. Even once you identify the comm. manager role the next step is going to be to actually execute. It might sound silly so break it down into such detail but imagine what the comm. manager(s) daily role would look like. If this is serving multiple business units across the company how will that work? Does each geographic location needs it's own community manager or it's own team? This is one of those topics that are a bit hard to have via a blog post but I certainly welcome a chat with you and anyone else anytime and perhaps develop some workable models around this (and other issues).

    One person can definitely not manage global social business so yes, you definitely need more than one CM. It's actually interesting because after speaking with several companies at E2.0 in SF I was told by many co's that they actually have 1-2 people managing this on a global level. I need to read your framework report, do you have a link or can you send me a copy to my email?

    Thanks again for your insightful comments, hope to hear much more from you.

  • http://www.gilyehuda.com Gil Yehuda

    Jacob, of course — you need someone who has some sense of responsibility (emotional and work-wise) to make the role work. But many companies have yet to understand the nature of this role. For examples, if you look at the average pay for externally focused community managers (via job boards, glassdoors, or interviews) you'll find that many companies are simply looking for interns and admins with about 3-5 years of work experience. When looking at the internal C/M role (i.e. “Enterprise 2.0″ proper) the pay scale and expectations are higher — but still some companies give the role to people who are generally not very empowered or influential in the organization. Fortunately there are now many great examples of companies who are doing this well — and have empowered, respected, and very versatile people running their communities.

    Yes, when you are doing “Enterprise 2.0″ (as opposed to “Department 2.0″) you are, by definition, going to span groups and probably span locations. So your C/M role needs to be able to wield some influence and visibility beyond his/her own division. This implies someone who is more empowered and respected than an admin/intern — indeed someone who is a bit senior and has probably developed a very strong personal network within the company already. That kind of a person can serve as leader, and have a distributed team of helpers throughout the company. This is a model that scales and works. The single “Jack-of-all-Trades” model does not — or to be fair, I have never heard of any company that does this — and I speak to many companies in the E2.0 space. I'm always glad to learn of a real example of a single “jack” who does everything needed. I just don't expect to find this any time soon.

    As for the 2.0 Adoption Council reports, visit the 20adoptioncouncil.com site, and you'll find them there (email to request a copy). Currently the one that I referred to above is offered for a fee, so I cannot email you a copy. I can only suggest that it's well worth the reasonable price (I explain why on a recent post on my blog http://www.gilyehuda.com/enterprise-20/2-0-adop… which I invite you and your readers to read.)

    Thanks for bringing up this topic and facilitating this conversation. I'm looking forward to more conversations too.

  • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

    Hi Gil,

    Yes I agree the role is still completely underestimated. However I know several folks that were getting paid 120k+ to for community management that were not doing near any of the tasks mentioned above. But that is rare. I think one point that you touched upon above is crucial, the person (s) need to have a good network within the company. On an upcoming post I want to address the importance of communication mapping for a company and that's a great thing to mention in there.

    Interesting that you separated both internal and external community managers, how do you see these two roles interacting with one another as I see a lot of knowledge sharing that can be done between the two. I think that internal and external collaboration is going to be crucial in the years to come. It's exciting to be talking about these things now at such an early stage in the industry.

    Thanks again for your insights. I have some very interesting ideas for posts, would you be interested on collaborating an articles in the future?

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