The past few years have been good for community managers. Community managers have been able to transform themselves into company listeners, social enablers and company customer service liaisons. But the community manager has a growth problem -- in that there hasn’t been anything for the community manager to aspire to -- no corporate ladder to climb. Until now. Introducing the Community Director. 

The Role of the Community Director

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Recently, Ogilvy outlined the ways in which organizations are primed to accept the role of community director. The community director, as they see it, helps set strategies, expedites inquiries, and help incorporate the brand’s voice into other parts of the company. 

From my perspective, the role of the Community Director is welcomed. Most community managers report to executives well-outside the realm of company communications. A recent survey indicated that 18% of social media experts report directly to a member of the C-suite, usually the CMO or CEO. Not only is this ineffective, it’s unreasonable. Again, we may dispute if community managers are social media experts, but there is definitely an overlap in skills. Many community managers are presented with customer issues that can only be solved by another department, but have limited authority to delegate these tasks. Awaiting a response from a member of the C-suite isn’t always timely nor the most effective. 

A community director would help not only to oversee the development of the community manager, but would be able to help expedite immediate tasks that can directly impact the customer experience,  as well as make sure that the online engagement strategy was being supported by the entire company. 

Community Director vs. Marketing Director

In this theoretical model, a community director would be in charge of building and engaging online communities while implementing principles and elements of a company’s brand and engagement strategy across channels. A marketing director, in comparison would design, implement and facilitate the marketing plan across online and offline channels. 

So where are the community directors? At present, a quick search of LinkedIn revealed that most online community directors are few and far between. Those that do assume the role are within small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) that specialize in digital and online media. 

I also took a preliminary look at some of the community director positions posted on job sites. Here are some of the responsibilities assigned: 

  • oversee the company’s overall social engagement strategy, social platform and communities team across all brands and platforms
  • create the online community strategy, including the moderation policy, escalation and customer service procedures and community engagement and outreach initiatives
  • ensure a unified approach across the company in the continued growth of all community spaces across implemented social tools 
  • act as the advocate of a social and engagement approach within the company, influencing overall business development strategies

While it looks that community directors are not yet mainstream, as more companies begin to look to community managers to build and engage customers online, it may be only a matter of time until we see social media and community managent evolve into a more centralized role within the enterprise. 

Image credit: Cienpies Design / Shutterstock