Role of an online community manager

Mark Sylvester hosted a web conference today  on the role of an online community manager. Here are some highlights from my notes:

  • The session used for the text chat, but this medium was very slow. Alternatives to Twitter should be used if you want online chat. An integrated chat was not available with the Citrix platform. Using Twitter as a chat tool also creates a lot of extra noise for your regular followers on Twitter (via @xpconcept)
  • CM is not a 9-5 job – uses twitter a lot, comments on blogs, uses back-channels for private communications the role changes as the needs of the community change
  • CM is a very time-consuming job and the results are not always tangible and visible.
  • There is also an internal role in explaining the role and activities in online communities to the organization, to answer, “what do you do all day other than play on Twitter?”.
  • Online communities don’t manage themselves.
  • Communities often don’t grow the way they are planned and may be taken over by a sub-group.
  • CM can bridge gap between inside & outside the organization.
  • CM doesn’t fit into any single departmental silo – role is similar to ombudsman
  • CM should not take oneself too seriously
  • “Communities don’t want to be managed” – they want to be nurtured
  • Building community means giving up control.
  • How do you get executive buy-in?
    • find someone with an existing community mindset
    • get executives into a real network experience in order to understand
  • The launch phase requires a small group that is passionate and “transacting” a lot.
  • Building community is not about collecting as many people as possible.
  • Key: crowd-source community management [my experience was this worked on Work Literacy]
  • Dynamic tension in communities: control vs member empowerment (experienced CM’s seem to be at ease with loss of control)

More: The Iceberg Effect of Community Management

Recommended Reading (from the panelists):

Linked: How everything is connected to everything else

The decision to join

Six pixels of separation

The new community rules


Related post of mine: The Community Manager

11 Responses to “Role of an online community manager”

  1. Susan Lewis

    Nice list of all the reasons why community management isn’t as easy as some people think. So many ways/reasons why it might not work and few good ways to measure if it does work (or define success). Which also makes it tough to explain to people who don’t do it for fun or a living.

  2. Scott from Real Projects

    As I read the post I instantly thought of Groundswell, at the bottom of the post I saw it was recommended reading. Good call.

    A few interesting points. Communities are about quality and not just quantity. They are difficult to quantify, something that lage companies are not always comfortable with.

    Its not 9-5. Even on work based social media people will post, blog and contribute on their own timescale.

    • Harold Jarche

      Good point, Scott. If you moderate posts then you have to be available to enable them and people expect responses within a day, not just the next business day. That’s been my experience so far.


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