As the realm of social business evolves and catches on with brands large and small, we've seen a number of new job functions come up – most notably, the role of the community manager.
IBM, a Text 100 client, recently published three trend predictions for the year ahead, one being community management as a key for activating members in an “online location around common interests and topics.”
While community management has been around for years, it's only just starting to take hold as a function responsible for more than just message-board moderation. Brands are continuing to diversify their online presence, and with that comes the need for management of new processes and platforms, including measuring engagement, building a content strategy, and educating and encouraging people to participate.
As the need for community management builds, so will concerns about resourcing and staffing for this role. Jeremiah Owyang, an analyst with Altimeter Research and a former community manager himself, last year predicted more community management activities would be handled by third parties. And with our roots in storytelling, content, engagement, and conversation, PR is in a prime position to take on a number of these tasks.
Our consultants at Text 100 have their hands in the management of more than 90 communities around the world. So what's the key to a successful deployment of community management services for a brand? I see two components as critical for each and every community project we take on: transparency and a deep-rooted understanding of the brand.
Great opportunity lies in a brand's engagement with its customers – both for success and failure. The social consumer is as savvy as ever, and with the limitless number of tools at their fingertips, they are quick to expose when a brand isn't being authentic – hence the reason why transparency is absolutely imperative.
Social business must be a reality for any brand that wants to remain successful, and community management is an ideal place to start if you're looking to test the waters. Although I've seen community management fall under a number of specific business functions – sales, marketing, and customer service – it's really a category all its own. In fact, it might be the first “official” social business role we've seen emerge to-date as a function that ideally weaves in and out of every department of the organization, linking HR to marketing, sales to IT, and so on. If social business is the bridge between business functions, community management is the glue holding the bridge together.
Aedhmar Hynes is the CEO of Text 100.