28 Jan The Focus in 2013 for Community Managers: Help Organizations Find New and Better Ways to Service Their Customers

Here we are at the 4th annual Community Manager Appreciation Day. Another year has whooshed by and I’m thinking that while good progress has been achieved, many community managers are still working to bring meaningful change to the enterprise.

Community managers remain most deeply and concretely established in the marketing world, but we will see a change in the years ahead. Community management will play a critical role in helping companies service their customers in new and better ways as customers expect better information and experiences from companies they wish to engage with.

Leading enterprises that welcome open collaboration and focus on building relationships, curation and engagement are experiencing positive change. However, in a great number of cases, CMs work with organizational support that is unaware or unsupportive. It’s to be expected at this stage in the game. The opportunity for change is huge, and the output is entirely up to the quality of the effort, which in these baby stages is often experimental or only partially committed. This is the reason why, in many organizations, CMs are still working hard to capture an average 20% of the possible network (

To change a company’s culture and move into the brave new enterprise world — the one that includes disparate teams who remain meaningfully connected — CMs still need to focus on building a structure that addresses education, response, reward, and user experience. I remember the struggle from within a large organization in 2007 debating the validity of the notion of an internal community manager with a leadership team. “We don’t need cheerleaders” and “curation?!” These short vision ideas still get tossed around a lot. When the collaboration process is marginalized for simplicity so is its value.

Organizations have a real opportunity to leverage quality CMs and CM strategies to meaningfully address their people needs as well as their information sharing needs (one really is the other if you look closely), and most importantly, their customers’ needs. When we talk about breaking down silos, we’re talking about creating a cohesive team. Building an internal structure where CM’s bridge the gap between learning, communication (including feedback and response), resource management and employee lifecycle support is a meaningful approach that brings real, positive change to an organization and their customers. CM’s can support the transformation of foundational silos and help the organization walk the talk of silo busting where it’s needed.

Employees, as well as customers, want a great relationship with their organization and brand. Both struggle deeply when an organization is large and focused on deflection and optimization. Communities facilitate that relationship when investment and commitment to meaningful change are appropriate and resolute. There’s still no magic pill, as much as we might want one.

To all CM’s, for 2013 I wish you big forward motion, great top cover from your stakeholders, enthusiastic and contributing participants, and enough days off to not go bonkers. You represent a number of strides forward in the business world and we’re grateful for your work.

Happy CMAD, and keep fighting the good fight. Sustentationem humanitas!