Is Community Management an oxymoron? — Check out Jeremiah’s recent post on the 4 tenets of community manager — There seems to be some debate on the four tenets themselves — Let’s ask the “community managers” themselves — Leave a comment.
Source: Not So Good Photography
Jeremiah had contacted me and a bunch of other community managers in companies ranging from Microsoft, Yahoo! and Disney to aggregate what he calls are the four tenets of a community manager. Now, it’s a given that the term community manager is not the perfect job title, and for purposes of this post let’s just call them community folk.
So, Jeremiah’s four tenets cover Community Advocate, Brand Evangelist, Effective Communicator, Product Feedback provider. Now, let’s look at the community evangelist roles in terms of what we do:
1. Listen: to users and internal teams
2. Converse: with users and internal teams
I think this is a good time to check out my earlier definition of the role of a community guy/gal using Hugh Macleod’s post of a Porous Membrane:
(Source: Hugh Macleod’s Gaping Void; May 9, 2005)
1. The Community/Customer (B)
Hugh calls B the customers. I’d like to take it one step further and see them as the community, esp. since we’re talking about a product/service that is “common, public, shared by all or many”. Now, there are some products that may not have as active a community (Enterprise servers, anyone) as the consumer oriented ones (iPods). Irrespective of that, the community manager will firstly have to be a customer evangelist thereby being able to identify with the community and its needs.
2. The Membrane (x)
6. So each market from a corporate point of view has an internal and external conversation. What separates the two is a membrane, otherwise known as “x”.
7. Every company’s membrane is different, and controlled by a host of different technical and cultural factors.
I’d like to think of the Community Evangelist as the one who connects the two entities A & B. They are the individuals entrusted with the task of pushing that membrane, aligning A and B.
3. The Troops (A)
This is the seemingly less important but critical component whose participation in the conversation is imperative. This would include your product, engineering, and customer support teams as Jeremiah elucidates. The more aligned the two groups, A and B are, the easier it’d be for the evangelist to start & keep a smart conversation going.
As you may have read in my earlier posts, customer evangelism is practiced by every passionate user within an organization. And, I see the role of every community evangelist facilitating easier communication between groups of users and the company.
Since this discussion will be incomplete without the thoughts of those individuals who practice what we’re discussing here – the community folk, I’m soliciting their response to this important discussion: Damon, Michael, Jeremy, Robyn, Chris, Scott, Alex, Betsy, Will, Craig, Thomas, Josh, Colin, Jeff, Dan and those peers of mine (community evangelism), I’d enumerated in an earlier post of mine. And, to you I ask:
What does a “community manager” do? Leave a comment.