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2013 State of Community Management Report Stresses Importance of Community Managers

Even though my current role is broader than community management, I’m still a community manager at heart and it’s still my passion. So I was super excited to get a peek at the first report of the Community Roundtable’s 2013 State of Community Management yesterday and even more excited to see that it contains some great findings that should hopefully help show businesses that community management DOES matter.

You’ll definitely want to read the report The Value of Community Management in its entirety, but in the meantime a few key findings for you:

  • Almost 40% of organizations surveyed reported being able to measure the value of the role. I think this is huge because there are still far, far too many organizations who are willing to invest a bunch of money in a community platform (technology) but then refuse to spend any on community management–then a year or two later when the community the vendor promised would be so great is  nothing but crickets, leadership declares the experiment a failure and gets rid of it. If you want to see value from online community, you need to invest in community management.
  • Successful community management is not a role delegated to the least experienced members of a team. Findings showed that, on average, community managers have about eight years experience and three years of community management experience. These are not interns running successful communities; they are experienced professionals with experience across many disciplines and with varied skillsets.
  • Technical skills are not the primary requirements for community managers. Forget looking for a community manager based solely on whether they use Facebook and Twitter or tasking tech gurus with community management. Engagement and people skills ranked highest in importance on the survey, followed by content development and strategic and business skills. Building community is about engaging with people, not using tech tools.
  • Community management is not just one person’s job. Approximately 40 percent of survey respondents had only one community manager, but 80 percent of organizations that could calculate the value of community management employed more than one community manager. Community management is a huge job that spans across entire organizations and for a mature community, tasking just one person with all facets of community management is too much. Burnout is a big topic in the community management world recently; it’s why I left my dream job. Especially as communities become more successful, organizations need to pay attention to scaling appropriately or they risk losing the very people responsible for the success of the community.
  • Community management is an inside job. Only 22 percent of respondents reported that they are hiring contractors, vendors or agencies for external community management services, and only 10 percent are hiring them for internal community management. The report predicts that as community teams grow, this will change; I personally suspect that it won’t. To me, it stands to reason that as community becomes more mature within an organization, more internal people will start taking on community management roles and the need to outsource will shrink, not grow….but that’s just me.

The biggest takeaway from the report, though, is that community management matters. Remember the old 90-9-1 rule? With effective community management, those numbers are a thing of the past; survey respondents reported an average engagement profile of 55-30-15, and the most engaged communities reported more creators than lurkers at 17-57-26.

There’s a ton of great information in the report, so I won’t spoil it all–do yourself a favor and read it to learn about what standards are emerging, which program elements are most important, what metrics you need to be tracking and reporting, and why your organization needs to develop a community playbook.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam June 25, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Great to see this study!

I work a lot with community of practice theory, social learning, and community website analysis/design/development. It’s sad to see how misunderstood communities are by both managers and developers (even even sadder, by the people who claim to work use CoP theory!!!).

The mantra seems to be “if you build it they will come”, but this never ever plays true. And unlike Oregon or Michigan, the internet hides ghost towns well, so all the general public is aware of are the very few successes. We fail to see the billions wasted on failed endeavors (failures which I believe could have been predicted most of the time and quite often avoided with a bit of investment in the right places).

The technology IS important, but only the first of many vitals to be established for the community.

Anyways, what I want to see next is research about how many of the successes had community management support and how many of the failures didn’t?

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Megan Keane June 26, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Thank you Maggie! I think the busting of the old 90-9-1 shows that social is becoming increasingly important and it’s nice to see organizations recognizing this and investing more resources into community management. With ever-better measurement tools at our disposal, I second Adam’s hope that we see more research about what kind of support is behind the successes and failures.

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