On Managing A Community

I wonder how most organizations are handling the role of community manager. I’m curious where a community manager reports. Marketing? HR? Customer service? I wonder how organizations are justifying the cost, and what they believe the role entails for level of effort. How are companies using the role in either direction?

Depending on the organization, I imagine the role of a community manager would be different, so I’m going to walk through what the role might entail for a media and events company (like mine), and see what comes to mind. I could do the same for several other professions, but let’s start here. Want to follow along? You can help me refine it in the comments.

Strategy

My strategy for a community manager would be to accomplish the following:

  • Develop an awareness center for our industry (so we can listen and know what the community at large feels).
  • Build a non-marketing community outreach to deliver a voice for our organization to the industry.
  • Engage the community we embrace, and facilitate learning and education from our organization’s perspective, and through relationships with other trusted organizations.

Reporting Structure

My company is a fairly flat organizational structure. At my office, a community manager would report in to me as the VP of Strategy & Technology. Why? Because I’m charged with setting the tone and the look and feel of the content for all of our events. To me, the role at my organization would be to help me build on the customer experience.

Duties

My community manager (and I’ll use the feminine pronoun to save both of us the “he or she”) would have accounts on the following platforms:

  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Ning
  • YouTube
  • Google Reader

She would have responsibility to set up tracking and alerts for keywords specific to our industry, to subscribe to several industry blogs, podcasts, and video channels, and to subscribe to certain topic categories on YouTube.

She would comment on appropriate blogs. Not about our events, but about the topics at hand (the comments would at least have a URL back to her blog, so that’s enough self-promotion on that front). Listening and commenting would be the bulk of her first three months’ duties.

She would blog when she felt comfortable with the space.

If we decided to grow a Facebook or Ning community, she’d help facilitate good conversations there, too.

Measurements

I’d measure my community manager on the following:

  • Responsiveness to communications (blog comments, emails, twitter messages and forum threads) less than 24 hours max.
  • Number of QUALITY blog posts read and shared via Google Reader.
  • Number of meaningful comments (more than a few words, on topic, pertinent to the space) on appropriate blogs, videos, and other media per month.
  • Overall quality of her Twitter stream ( maybe a 60/30/10 mix of industry-related / personal @ comments / and off-topic).
  • Engagement on our blog/community/network. (Number of subscribers, number of comments, number of links out to other blogs from our community site).
  • Number of quality blog posts and linking posts (probably a 40/60 split between original and linked, though some would argue for 30/70).
  • Eventually, number of links from other sites to our blogs and media.

Success of the Project

I’d feel our community manager was a success if she accomplished the following through her efforts:

  • Empower the listening ability of our organization to our community’s needs and desires.
  • Build an awareness of our organization through non-marketing efforts, measured by favorable or at least non-negative mentions on other blogs, forums, and in Twitter.
  • Deliver a blog and/or media platform that’s useful to the community at large, and that grows in number of subscribers as well as engaged commenters.

Overall, I believe these efforts would be measured by an increase in attendance at our face-to-face and virtual events, an increase in subscriptions to our newsletter, and a larger blog commenting community. This would be a win to our organization, and would thus be worth the expense of another salaried employee.

YOUR Turn

How would your organization incorporate a community manager? Where would they report? How would you measure their efforts? Do you see any flaws in my suggestions? Are YOU a community manager? How does this sync up with your world?

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The Social Media 100 is a project by Chris Brogan dedicated to writing 100 useful blog posts in a row about the tools, techniques, and strategies behind using social media for your business, your organization, or your own personal interests. Swing by [chrisbrogan.com] for more posts in the series, and if you have topic ideas, feel free to share them, as this is a group project, and your opinion matters.

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