How’s your community manager doing?

Rachel Happe has a really important post at the Community Roundtable about the lack of support she’s seeing for community managers.  We’re seeing a lot of this too:  organizations want to hire for a social media position, which is basically senior enough to do everything social-related under the sun, but not paid at the level the position deserves and ALSO without lower level administrative support.  Rachel spells it out perfectly:

The same group of senior community leaders is increasingly frustrated, over-worked and emotionally deflated in their current roles. They are being asked to rationalize enterprise wide engagement strategies and programs, but without the level of strategic support that would allow them to succeed. Often it feels like these individuals are being tasked with fixing the flaws of a highly fragmented and siloed organization with teams that fit in a small conference room. These strategists face the following pressures:

  • To assess, reconcile and coordinate the ‘social’ approach across a wide range of enterprise functions
  • To justify not just their progress but the ROI when many are still in a highly fluid and experimental state
  • To train the entire organization on social media, internal social software, social business, social processes and workflows and community management
  • To educate legal, HR and compliance groups about the dynamics and specifics of online social environments
  • To understand and report back what is going on – from a conversational perspective – in the online environment
  • To share their expertise both internally and externally with a wide variety of groups
  • To hire a set of individuals that are hard to find and which their HR departments don’t really understand and then mentor and educate those groups quickly
  • To coach executives individually
  • To keep up with the ever changing technologies and analytics options
  • To integrate internal social environments with closed communities with open communities and with public social channels and none-hosted communities in their markets
  • To set up enterprise-wide governance processes and regularly coordinate efforts and approaches globally
  • To help the entire organization see the opportunities that social approaches might bring to specific workflows and functions

Add to all of this the increasing awareness around social software and community management and these individuals are being pulled in a lot of different directions. And yet, most CEOs and executives probably would respond with a blank stare if you asked them about community management and/or social business. Executive sponsors of these programs are a bit ambivalent and waiting for ‘proof’ before increasing investment, but this is both a chicken and egg problem and a lack of understanding of the emerging social risks and how these programs help mitigate them.

Sound familiar?  Every social media or community manager reading this will be nodding their heads. Read the rest of the post here.

Now, we get it.  These are new positions that didn’t exist even five years ago.  The specifics of the job still vary widely, and there’s still major confusion about the difference between a social media manager and a community manager.  It’s been a struggle to get approval for headcount for one person, much less one person plus support staff.  But there are things you can do to support your community manager.  We SocialFish can help, for a start.  A lot of the work we do is in support of in-house social media or community managers – we help prioritize efforts, give them external backup, give them data on what other associations are doing to help get buy-in on particular projects or just to show how they are doing in comparison (all of ours are doing awesome, in case there was any doubt :) ); help them set up training for other staff, help them quickly hit the ground running in a new position by getting internal processes in place fast.  We can also connect them with other people in similar positions in other associations.

You can also help them with professional development – this is a VERY fast-moving field.  Give your community manager a membership to the Community Roundtable.  Let them go to social media conferences.  Give them budget to attend webinars like our Think Tank webinars (new 2012 series will be announced soon).

And at the very least, give them some administrative support.  Even half a person dedicated to them will help a lot. Social media work is a LOT of admin – and that part has to be done well in order for any of the strategy stuff to work.

Contact us if you want to talk more about this.  You may not realize this, but the future of your association could be in your community manager’s hands. There are lots of things you can do to support them even without a lot of budget or resources.

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