Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Why Your Company Needs A Community Manager

Who owns social media at your company? Marketing? Interactive? PR? Corporate Communication? The agency? Customer Relations? You’ll get a lot of different answers when you panel the country. Social Media continues to be a management mystery for companies and with good reason. Let’s break down why certain roles shouldn’t “manage” social media.

Marketing: They want to market to the consumer and convert a sale. It’s our DNA.

Interactive: Sure, we’re plugged in and generally on top of the latest and greatest. But, we often get caught up in being cool instead of being relevant. Case in point, the Skittles insanity.

PR: I have a lot of heart for having PR manage Social Media, because it’s all about the message. However, not every company has an internal PR team and those that do have generally hired people who do a great job at spin, damage control, and selling stories. Folks, Social Media isn’t about any of those.

Corporate Communications: The name says it all. Should the people who manage internal communications, like writing the CEO’s memos (this is a truth I’ve seen and observed) be managing relationships with consumers? These are also the people writing policies that control what employees can and can’t write on their personal blogs.

Customer Relations: Comcast does this really well, but Customer Relations is a really narrow focus and specific area of Social Media.

The reality is all of the above are capable of managing social media for a company if it was their only job and they were enabled to lead. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case.

Social Media is and should be a shared responsibility for a company. It needs to represent and deliver for all of the groups I listed above, in addition to many more. However, simply creating a task force won’t cut it. Task forces rarely work because people end up trying to reach consensus. If you manage Social Media through consensus how will the consumer find value? They won’t.

What companies need is a head of all things social media. Someone who can work across all groups at a company. This becomes increasingly important when a company has many brands and products. Folks in the “space” are starting to refer to this person as a Community Manager. I can live with that. The community manager should be empowered to do right by the community. They should be the one keeping the varied and diverse internal groups, like marketing and PR, honest and focused on the consumer.

If you’re a company playing in the Social Media space, you need a Community Manager. I know it’s a tough economic time, but you’ve got to find a way to make this role a reality.

If companies need a Community Manager to lead Social Media initiatives, who should be leading it on the agency side?

  • Did you know that in the early days of the Internet, most websites were managed — completely — by IT departments.

    This is something often LOLed about at conferences I have attended.

    Strangely, now that India is slowly getting online, I’ve been amazed that they are not learning from the mistakes made by their American predecessors (and again — apparently — many/most website management is left to computer / IT departments).

    Looking ahead in time, I think you need to think about billions of websites / communities (and of course the premier sites will be those that follow the Wisdom of the Language)… and this means that many/most sites will be managed by only a single person (e.g. thekmiecs.com ;).

    In this “future” world (actually, it’s already starting to become the present world, people will flock to ideas as the “community” (this has started with “hotels”, “cars”,… — and now “twitter”, etc.)

    Personal / Brand websites will be the individuals (representing themselves — and/or simply being the address/telephone number where it’s possible to be “reached at”).

    The social interaction will increasingly take place in channels that are part+parcel of the corresponding community’s language.

    🙂 nmw

  • Did you know that in the early days of the Internet, most websites were managed — completely — by IT departments.

    This is something often LOLed about at conferences I have attended.

    Strangely, now that India is slowly getting online, I’ve been amazed that they are not learning from the mistakes made by their American predecessors (and again — apparently — many/most website management is left to computer / IT departments).

    Looking ahead in time, I think you need to think about billions of websites / communities (and of course the premier sites will be those that follow the Wisdom of the Language)… and this means that many/most sites will be managed by only a single person (e.g. thekmiecs.com ;).

    In this “future” world (actually, it’s already starting to become the present world, people will flock to ideas as the “community” (this has started with “hotels”, “cars”,… — and now “twitter”, etc.)

    Personal / Brand websites will be the individuals (representing themselves — and/or simply being the address/telephone number where it’s possible to be “reached at”).

    The social interaction will increasingly take place in channels that are part+parcel of the corresponding community’s language.

    🙂 nmw

  • Suzanne

    “Enabled to lead” and “empowered” are key points here. These prove to be some of the biggest challenges when working with companies that have old-school leadership and are set in their corporate mindset. They can’t understand that letting go control is what will, in the end, truly let them go…forward.

    Consensus is also a stumbling block. We were talking last week about the need for consensus. If you must always have it, you’ll remain at a stalemate and it will stall momentum.

  • Suzanne

    “Enabled to lead” and “empowered” are key points here. These prove to be some of the biggest challenges when working with companies that have old-school leadership and are set in their corporate mindset. They can’t understand that letting go control is what will, in the end, truly let them go…forward.

    Consensus is also a stumbling block. We were talking last week about the need for consensus. If you must always have it, you’ll remain at a stalemate and it will stall momentum.