The role & value of a Community Manager

Whether using a computer, tablet, smart phone or television, people today spend large hours in front of a digital screen. The customer is digital, markets have become conversations and a new profession has born: the profile of “Community Manager”.

"The Many Hats of a Community Manager" (infograph by Get Satisfaction & Column Five)“The crowds are continuously monitoring a company’s behaviour”, says Comuniza consultant Javier Velilla. “There is no way back. Companies have to give up their resistance to transparency and their fear of loosing control. They have to be prepared for an online reputation crisis and take advantage of the word-to-mouth possibilities of communication 2.0″.

This is where the Community Manager comes in. In his Cibernàrium course “Community Management: managing the virtual communities of your brand”, Javier explains the role of a Community Manager, and showcases some good practices of social media branding and resolving an online reputation crisis.

It’s all about reaching the friends-of-friends

“The main goal of community management is reaching out to the friends of your leads”, Javier explains. “Leads are internet users that are ‘captured’ into quantifiable data: newsletter subscribers, Facebook page likers, Twitter followers etc.  As soon as the magic of word-to-mouth happens, chances are big your leads will convert into sales, because the friends of your leads receive a recommendation from a trusted source. Moreover, these friends-of-friends are very likely to share tastes & interests with your leads.”

"After the Clue Train" (cartoon by Geek & Poke)Thus, the first step is to obtain ‘leads’. The trouble is that people are not interested in trademarks, they won’t subscribe to your newsletter or like your fan page ‘just for the sake of it’.

To gain the ‘love’ of the public, a Community Manager will have to perform a whole range of actions. Not only on the channels owned by the company, also on third party channels of the ecosystems in which potential customers are likely to be living.

“That’s why a Community Manager needs to be someone that already forms part of that ecosystem“, Javier emphasizes. “When recruited, a Community Manager’s tech skills are not that relevant. More important are his or her contacts and experience in a certain ecosystem.”

Measuring the value of a Community Manager

To convince the boss about the importance of hiring (and not firing) a Community Manager, it is extremely important to measure his or her performance through some quantifiable KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). This is where another member of the corporate Social Media team comes in: the Social Media Analyst. Based on the objectives previously set by the Social Media Manager, the Social Media Analyst will decide which elements & indicators are going to measure the impact of a Community Manager’s actions.

A first set of indicators are developed around the of ‘own’ actions: those performed by the Community Manager on the ‘owned media channels’. A second set of  indicators are developed around the actions of ‘third parties’ on the ‘earned media’-  the channels where word-of-mouth is happening. “This kind of activity is of course harder to measure”, Javier concludes. “But it is essential if we want to demonstrate the boss that the leads a Community Manager obtained are converted into sales“.

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