May 25 2009
“It might not be intuitively clear to non-participants that a company representative’s consistent high-quality engagement in community is necessary to reap the benefits of community, but for community managers, the relationships they are building make it very clear. Those relationships would go cold without consistent engagement.”
I really enjoyed the ReadWriteWeb Guide to Community Management. Under Marshall Kirkpatrick’s gifted hand, this savvy report delivers the basics for any CxO or CMO considering developing their own social media community. In particular, I love the focus on hiring or appointing a community manager to start.
Most companies want to start with a campaign or an initiative, and that’s the wrong focus. Community Management quickly and aptly points out that social is not about PR per say, more about networking, thus the need for a continued outbound presence. A face of the company, if you would. Without a community manager, companies can fail to harness the many benefits organized social media can offer.
There were several aspects of the report that really seemed to be of service to the marketer trying to figure this out (I assume that most people reading this will be marketers). There’s a heavy focus on the confluence of the many outbound customer functions from PR and marketing to customer service in the report. It’s essential to understand that no one traditional skill set will do the job. Further, social is about engagement versus advertising. There’s a great discussion here on the topic.
There’s a heavy focus on measurement, which is great. I don’t know how many times I hear that you can’t measure social media, and while the report admits to the ambiguity of measurement, I wholeheartedly agree when it says, “Community managers should establish methods to measure their own impact on other departments’ bottom lines.” Frankly, if you can’t determine measurement, then you have no strategy. Strategies are to achieve objectives, and objectives are measurable.
Finally, there’s a great discussion on what makes a good community manager, including statistics and personality type. This is very helpful for organizations trying to hire or identify this role within the company. Guidelines are given for how to participate within and manage the community, too.
I did have a few nitpicks with the report, and for the sake of balance I will offer them. First, the report does say right off the bat that Twitter is a place any company should be and Facebook more than likely could be difficult, but that group pages can work. In the beginning, the report also highlights a blog as a must have, yet we know most blogs fail. Given that, should blogging be so openly embraced?
For the record, I question Twitter’s value sometimes. While I see how Virgin America can be happy with 15K followers, I question whether this kind of reach has any real marketing impact for the company. Straight up truth: Twitter is dynamic and fast, but it’s not a broadcast medium for consumer companies. However, it is a great place to organize and interact with your die hard community members and influencers. Twitter has good uses (See Buzz Bin Twitter primer) and bad uses, so look beyond Shiny Object Syndrome before drinking the Kool Aid in full.
The other nitpick was the personal brand conundrum. While the report acknowledges having a singular voice does not scale, it does not dive in deep on how to handle this issue. It’s a quality problem derived from success, but it would be helpful for companies to see the value of scaling on a team level.
Overall, I highly recommend this report. Any company considering a community management strategy should by the ReadWriteWeb guide as it will give them great insights into this growing professional discipline.
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