The good news: it seems like more and more associations are creating or enhancing existing online communities. Whether they’re using new, free tools like Facebook, building their own proprietary online communities—or even just using old-school platforms like listservs or discussion forums, it’s becoming harder to ignore the benefits of enabling your members to connect with each other—and your association—online.
The bad news: while there seems to be an upswing in online community creation in the association world, there doesn’t seem to be a corresponding upswing in dedicating staff to manage the communities. Either associations don’t have the budget to hire someone in that role or they don’t think it’s necessary. Or maybe they do think it’s a good idea but aren’t even sure how to put together the job description, let alone hire the right person.
Whether you’re debating the merits of hiring a community manager, not even sure what a community manager is, or maybe have someone on staff who’s interested in assuming the role, here are a few really good resources to help you and/or them better understand the discipline of online community management:
- The Community Roundtable’s State of Community Management 2010. Admittedly, I’m a member of the Community Roundtable and can’t say enough good things about them, but even from an objective point of view, this report is an incredible resource for anyone interested in learning about the state of community management—best practices, industry perspectives, tools, case studies, etc. The 60+ page report is free to download and well worth a read.
- The Community Manager Survey is an in-depth look at the practice of community management. The report costs $39.99/$49.99 (depending on the format), but contains a lot of relevant and revealing information about the challenges community managers face. A few key insights from the report include the fact that only 1/3 of those surveyed report having a clear job description and more than half are seeking new community manager positions (related to the lack of clear job descriptions, I’m sure).
- TheCR Quick Chat Podcasts (also available on iTunes) each feature a different community manager and offer great insights into what it’s like to manage online communities.
- The Community Managers network on Brazen Careerist. A network of community managers from all types of companies. If you’re not familiar with Brazen Careerist, you should be—your future members may well be on there.
- Still not convinced that this is a necessary role and think your online community will flourish on its own? You might want to take a look at Tom Humbarger’s blog post about the subject. The whole “if you build it they will come” thing really doesn’t work with online communities.
Does your association have an online community but no staff dedicated to managing it? Or are you considering building one but not sure who will manage it? Share your thoughts on community management: is it necessary or am I just justifying my job?