Friday, April 29, 2011

The Emerging Role of the Community Manager #astdl20

This are my live blogged notes from a session at ASTD Learning 2.0. 

The Emerging Role of the Community Manager with Jim Storer (@jimstorer) of The Community Roundtable

Community = shared purpose, common needs

Even if you think you’re doing something in private, it is discoverable  and you could be outed.

DMs on Twitter? Ultimately not that private…

Community Manager: Internal evangelizing is a full time job – people who are community managers and doing brown bag lunches, getting people on board – needs to be someone who’s good at getting in front of a group, someone who’s good at experimenting

A Community Manager is a relationship manager.  It’s not about the tools

Responsibilities of a Community Manager:

  • Don’t have a build it they will come mentality.  You need to figure out ways to create engagement.
  • Don’t shut down conflict.  Conflict is passion.  Good community managers know how to channel that.
  • Protect the community (don’t let sales sell to your community)
  • Celebrate success – even small success.
  • Take pictures of Tweets and share them with the exec team.
  • Understand the tools. (but you don’t need to be technical)

Visible Tasks of the CM:

  • managing content
  • manage events
  • welcome new members
  • participate judiciously – as the CM don’t be the first one to post.

Behind the scenes tasks:

  • Taking issues offline
  • building relationship with key members

The ghost town…

Community launches with lots of content but no management.  There’s no interaction.

Need to make sure people are getting value out of it.

SharePoint and other tools make it so easy to create groups…so now too many groups with not enough focus.  Need to make people aware of what it takes to create engagement in a community. End up with tiny stalks of information buried deep.

Drama central

When someone takes over a community. Rules of engagement needed to clearly articulate what the space is for.  If people go off the rails, then you can pull it back in…


Make sure a clique doesn’t establish.  Makes it hard for other people to be a part of the community – otherwise you keep other people at bay.

What makes a good community manager?

  • Ability to match a brand’s personality
  • Good communicator – willing to take hits
  • Nudges people along
  • Passionate, but tempered enthusiasm
  • Generally the emerge from within the org – they have the passion already
  • Relationship building/conflict resolution
  • Self-awareness
  • Be able to articulate how what they’re doing ties to corporate goals and initiatives

Listen.  Don’t jump in right away. Read the tea leaves. Do some back channeling through private messages.

Your most valuable tool: a phone.  To actually call people on.

Keep a regular schedule.  Do programming – office hours – topical conference calls and webinars.  This gets people back and participating on a regular basis.

Be multi-modal. Snackable content that can be quickly digested (blog posts that are 200 words and not 2,000 words).

Be valuable. Help connect people. Make this a place people want to come back to.

Be notable.  Create unique experiences they can’t get elsewhere.

Bring catnip. Make it rewarding.  (encourage in public, chastise in private).

Have rules. Everyone needs to understand the rules.  If people are posting against the rules and is counter to the goals of the comm, make sure they understand that’s not accepted.

Encourage your cheeseheads. These are your fans.  They don’t have to be members of your comm, but they spread your content on the web. They are valuable to you - -celebrate them and let them know you appreciate them.

Ride the waves. If you see a community forming offline, help them do it online.

Don’t ignore. It can turn into a ghost town pretty quickly. Make it part of someone’s job and that they have passion about it and they’re in there.

Protect the fish. Protect community members from the sharks.

Key takeaways:

  • Understand the audience – who’s your community member?
  • Identify the desired business outcome is
  • Build thick value…you’re a part of something and this is valuable. Want to create long term engagement.
  • Understand the role and value of CM


Social business becomes a strategic imperative.

Interest in CM has increased.

The CM discipline is evolving

Confusion remains…


  • get all the people who need to be at the table there – get positive multiple voices on your side to overcome company culture
  • be prepared to let the outside in
  • ask for the truth, even if it hurts. Companies need to be truthful with themselves – who you are as a company with social will rear it’s head

Policies & Governance

  • policies are the legalese; guidelines are how you want people to behave (guidelines are firmly rebooted to your goals)


  • Don’t feel like you have to use every SoMe tool or channel
  • There’s not one tool that’s go it all.

“Community does not grow in a sandbox; you need to build a garden.”

When being helpful is not helpful…

  • As a CM, it’s important to pause and let people jump in

Create content that fills gaps. Snackability. Create other versions of content in a way that makes it easy for other people to consume. 

If you send execs pictures of good customer interactions (screen shots).

People talk about the ROI…but what’s the ROI of a billboard? Elevating your brand in an offline space is priceless.

State of Community Management 2011

(last year put the report up and had to register -  30,000 hits over the year.  This year went commando and didn’t do a reg page - -and 22,000 hits in 6 weeks.)


Aaron said...

There's one item I would add that I have found extremely valuable (and was surprised with such a great list it wasn't already there): reduce the obstacles to participation. Whether it's live or it's online, the thing I find more successful than not (though it adds stress to my life) is finding ways to smooth out a person's ramp-up to participating and interacting with each other.

Allowing people to initially join in with an account from Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn -- a profile they already have vs. signing up for your own -- it seems like a little thing, but it it turns into a big thing.

In a live event, offering multiple opportunities to take an email or network break, allow the tweets or polls to run concurrent to the event and make use of that channel -- gets more people participating in multiple ways faster.

A Community Manager is as much a user experience designer as they are an event manager.

Anonymous said...

Thanks as always for curating these resources, and this is a really inspiring vision for the future of the learning professional.

"Community Manager" is such a new and emerging job title that there is really room to define it as you go. The person you describe is an internal community manager, who accelerates connection and learning within a group of colleagues. Aaron is a different kind of community manager - one who builds connections between distributed people around their shared use of SCORM and elearning products. I'm a whole different kind of community manager - one who tries to build a community of buyers and sellers on OpenSesame.

But we're all trying to facilitate connections, solve problems and connect people. It's really fun and exciting work, and I think it is the future of "working smarter" (to use Jay Cross' term): the learning manager as connector and curator, instead of content creator.