This year marks the 4th annual celebration of Community Manager Appreciation Day (#CMAD) — spearheaded by Jeremiah Owyang with the intent of calling attention to the hard work and dedication of community managers across the globe.

Recounting the fun we had pulling together our post last year to commemorate the day, we figured we would extend the celebration over the course of a week. During the week ahead, you’ll see posts from my colleagues as we break down the meaning behind the CMAD acronym and dissect the important role community managers fulfill day in and day out.

I’d like to start the series with a discussion around Community.


The Essence of Community
When you step back, it’s interesting to think about how the essence of “community” has morphed over time. We all love community. Even if you consider yourself independent, you’re human and have an innate desire to connect with other humans on some level — be it online or offline, with one person or hundreds of people. We like to know that our voice is heard, that our opinion matters and that others care. We like the feedback and response of interaction and the challenge of disagreement. We have egos we love to project and we love that there is always someone else out there who is willing to listen. We’re human.

What does “community” truly mean in 2013?
The Web has splintered in every direction possible. If you want to find an online community tied to a particular topic, I assure you that it exists. Offline, most of us only have a small group of close friends. We are all busy and there is a practical time limit to our ability to connect with others on a deep level for any sustainable period of time. On the other hand, the Web breaks through these practical limits. It opens up a vast array of opportunities to connect, interact and regularly engage with others. Online, we are free of deep commitment and often develop quick social connections across a broad group of people through our ability to quickly find like-minded individuals.

Community Managers Help Us Connect
Community managers are the glue behind our often disjointed online interactions. They are our sounding board and spark igniters that help to shape discussion, prompt new ideas, motivate action, provide emotional comfort and rationalize the seemingly irrational. They are the individuals that help to thread together pieces of a puzzle and ultimately connect humans who otherwise may miss out on ever interacting with one another.

The Changing Role of Community Management
In many cases, community managers are frontline customer service leads or the voice of the brand at the tip of a crisis. They work off-hours, keep a sharp eye on their various channels and are always maintaining a proactive mindset. But, the gig is changing. Effective brands and agencies no longer assign a single junior staffer to run community management. The role requires a top notch individual who is quick, nimble and can serve as the voice of the brand online. Brands doing community management right have compiled creative teams chalk full of copywriters, graphic designers, video producers, content curators and paid coordinators who all serve to support the content produced for the community manager to distribute and properly syndicate. Scale and resources become a challenge, but it’s the ideal setup for any brand that desires effective online growth and engagement.

In short, the job of the community manager will always be to help us “connect” – the role has simply evolved and elevated.

I look forward to seeing how the community management role (ahem…teams) morph in the year ahead. It’s an exciting time for brands and supporting agencies to drive ahead and pave the path for new and exciting engagement. Stay tuned for the week ahead as we continue our #CMAD series.

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