I’ve been putting off a new post for a while now and was inspired by this post from Jeremiah Owyang on “Community Manager Appreciation Day”. Within the organization where I am employed the community manager role has evolved as an essential role with our launch in 2009 of an external community for clients. Even more, I read about it every day thru Twitter, Friendfeed, articles from major publications and the blogs of those that have evangelized and basically created this space we call social media.
At the end of 2009 I carefully aggregated perceptions and predictions on what would happen in digital/social space in 2010. Social network aggregation and growth, video, and mobile were the key trends that I found. Although I do agree, I’ll put my bets on community building online (via paid community platforms).
Community building can be looked at a few ways. There are external communities that are housed on networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook, but I see a big play in the organizationally created community. This would be something on a community platform such as Jive, KickApps, Telligent, and Awareness (to name a few). These types of communities can be structured to meet every organizational goal, which is something not easy to do on a “free” social network. They can be used internally and/or externally.
Home-grown communities can be driven from key initiatives in the organization through the collaborative nature of these platforms. If it be to drive sales, deliver thought leadership, customer support, consulting, or just giving a platform for customers to talk to one another, these platforms will be able to support it. Even better, you will have all of the activity on one dashboard, tailor promotions around one community (rather than multiple i.e. facebook, linkedin, etc.), and more importantly, moderate [and in a way] control the message – at least this is the tactic you can take to get executive buy-in.
When making this move it is essential for organizations to designate a community manager to be the “go to person” in building out more communities within the organization – did I say that these platforms are very scalable! In talking to colleagues from various industries, I am seeing the creation of one community spark ideas and interest from many business units and groups within the organization that may have shyed away from the original idea of talking to customers online. And a community manager can facilitate all of this giving best practices and leveraging one platform across the organization.
The role is real and essential to build the proper roadmap and strategy for the entire online community involvement of the organization. I put my bets on seeing more and more community manger roles evolve for both internal and external roles. What are your thoughts?