A journey of a thousand steps begins with… a tweet?
Last week, Jeremiah Owyang sent out a simple query: Is there a Community Manager Day? If not, why not? This sparked a lot of discussion across the Web and the Twitterverse and all the places where people who do community management get together to share ideas. Everyone seemed to agree: There should be.
So, now there is. Welcome to Community Manager Day. Every fourth Monday of January, as Jeremiah said, “Let’s take the time to pause, recognize, and celebrate the efforts community managers around the world are doing.”
Jeremiah’s initiative got us to thinking about where community management has been and where it’s going.
Our own community management team is made up of myself, Eric Suesz, and Ginevra Kirkland. Even our Customer Support Manager, Morgan Sherwood, has a background in community management and pops into our community to interact with our customers on the front lines. We’ve been fortunate enough at Get Satisfaction to recruit great talent, and I want to take this opportunity to exclaim how much I love working with these people. Every day, they handle their roles with graciousness, patience, kindness, and humor. Yes, there are challenging moments in community management, but the rewarding ones far outweigh the hard ones, and these folks always make it look easy.
The role of community manager has been expanding quickly. This year, many organizations will hire their first community manager, and the number of people filling that role is bound to increase dramatically in the coming years. So, who are they hiring?
Each particular community is different, of course. Some companies need people who can monitor the Web and reach out to customers. Some need strong communicators with public relations skills. Some need people with marketing savvy to help grow participation. Many organizations need someone with a combination of these skills.
Some companies — in particular larger ones — need community managers who are very focused on customer service and helping customers. That’s probably going to be the big growth of community management over the next few years. The job title of community manager will undoubtedly be handed out to front-line customer-service representatives who’ve been given special training and a mandate to solve a particular problem or help customers out with one specific product.
In general, the role of community manager is poised for huge growth, and smart companies are already beginning to realize they can offer their customer-service employees new tools to reach out proactively to help — and engage with — customers. They can turn what can sometimes be a one-sided, frustrating, phone-based job into an exciting, research-based, Web-surfing, ambassadorial role.
As the ranks of community managers rapidly grow, the key to the perception and understanding of what community management is really all about is to make sure the people we are assigning the role of community manager to are up to speed and up to the task. It will require all of us to share our best practices, as well as our best strategies, so we can get the word out about what works — and what doesn’t.
To that end, at Get Satisfaction we are working diligently on new ways to show companies, regardless of the size of their community, what they can do to build community. Some of what we’ve done can be found here in our blog, in our webcasts on GetSatisfaction.tv and even in our own community. We’re going to be doing even more this year to show companies exactly “how to be social.” We’ll review the tools you should be using, we’ll be writing about the strategies you should employ, and we’ll be supporting the people across the Web who are voicing important things about community management — like Jeremiah did today.
Thank you, Jeremiah, for getting us all to step up, take a bow, and raise the awareness of all the things community managers do every day. And thanks to all the other sponsors of this inaugural event, Bill Johnston, Connie Benson, Rachel Happe, Jake McKee, Sean O’Driscoll, and Dawn Foster.