workplace desk littered with ribbons and thank you notes
Say thank you to your community manager today. PHOTO: rawpixel.com

It's Community Manager Appreciation Day (#CMAD) day — time to celebrate those who consistently, in the words of Rachel Happe, a principal and co-founder of The Community Roundtable, know how to get people to do stuff without telling them what to do.

In just a handful of years, the perception of community managers has greatly evolved: from the idea of people who sat around chatting on social media all day, offering little organizational value to executives of tomorrow, removing the barriers between the organization and its partners or customers. 

They manage relationships, change behaviors and create value, Happe said.

CMAD & The Art of Community Management

This year's event features a free eight-hour webathon with seven panel discussions and a keynote by Jeremiah Owyang, founder of Community Manager Appreciation Day as well as Crowd Companies

“We’ve had 24-hour Google hangouts in the past but we’re trying something different,” said organizer Ben Martin, chief engagement officer at Online Community Results, a consultancy that helps nonprofit entities gain ROI through online communities. 

“We’ll have panelists in our studio. There’s a little more polish on it this year.”

Part of a community manager's responsibility is to advocate their brand on social networks As Sprout Social explains: 

"They create their own social persona and actively go out within the online community to connect with potential customers and advocate the brand. Community managers typically deal with those who haven’t heard of the business they work for and boost awareness for the company."

It's deeply aligned with building relationships, solving problems and connecting community members. CMSWire contributor Carrie Melissa Jones compared hiring a community manager to finding a unicorn.

"You’re looking for someone who is 50 percent hustle, 40 percent operations maven, 10 percent enthusiastic creative," she wrote. "And you need this person to understand how community works inside of a business, which is a relatively new discipline in and of itself." 

A Tale of 2 Community Managers

To celebrate #CMAD, CMSWire caught up with two community managers who discussed their roles and the importance of community management.

Brandie McCallum, Lttlewys Consulting

Brandie McCallum
Brandie McCallum
McCallum is an online and offline community builder and community manager. She considers herself a connector, a communicator and a social media strategist. She’s worked with startups and established companies, including Advisology, BTC Revolutions, Readz, Nextivity and Rawporter. Tweet to Brandie McCallum.

McCallum loves CMAD — and not just because she and other managers get pats on the back.

“Working online and in the digital space, community managers are isolated,” McCallum told CMSWire. “CMAD is a way to all gather, exchange stories and ideas and recognize people working for their brands. We are a little underappreciated.”

McCallum has held her current position as online manager consultant with Lttlewys Consulting in Tampa since January 2009. Before that, she held roles as director of community at Readz, director of social engagement at Internet Media Labs and community manager at Sensei Marketing.

In her current role, she networks with online communities, manages Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, LinkedIn company pages, attends conferences on behalf of companies and coordinates online and offline marketing. The goals: create, build and convert the right audience for each brand she represents. 

It’s a challenging position. As long as there's Wi-Fi or a mobile hotspot, there's the urge to work, no matter the hour. And often as a community manager, she often has no choice but to work weird hours, responding to requests from community members, customers and clients.

CMAD helps highlight this.

“It’s nice to know you’re not the only one drinking coffee at 11 o’clock at night looking at TV commercials then immediately checking Twitter,” McCallum said.

She calls herself a “hashtag nerd,” one that’s always playing with new ones and looking for others that strike chords.

As for the brands with whom she works, they each have something in common: they want to tie revenue into their social and online efforts.

“You don’t walk into a crowded mall and start pushing people into buying,” McCallum said. “But you could sit down with them, have some coffee, say hello and maybe just have a conversation.”

Give social efforts time to work, McCallum advised. Remember, you’re renting space, and not buying. At any time, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn could change how their platforms operate.

“What you worked on yesterday with the iPhone may only work on an Android tomorrow,” she said.

Ultimately, social and online programs efforts are only as good as revenue they generate.

“If you’re not making money,” McCallum said, “why even have a program? You’re only as good as the sales you make.”

Sherrie Rohde, Community Manager, Magento

Sherrie Rohde
Sherrie Rohde

As the community manager for Magento, Rohde connects people with resources and with each other. She was introduced to Magento as a developer for a merchant and, while an active community member and forum moderator, was able to experience working with the platform from a technology partner and solution integrator as well. She also co-produces a weekly broadcast for community professionals called #CMGRHangout. Tweet to Sherrie Rohde.

Sherrie Rohde knows what’s on the minds of visitors to a Magento community.

Rohde was introduced to Magento as a developer for a merchant. She was an active community member and forum moderator. She experienced working with the platform from a technology partner and solution integrator as well. She ended up holding the role as community evangelist for Magento from 2007 to 2014.

Now, as community manager for Magento — a position she's held since April 2015 — Rohde knows what Magento users want: to solve problems. Users of the ecommerce platform can bounce ideas off one another or search for help when they get stuck.

“What I love about my communities are basically if I’m doing my job properly, then other people are moving forward in their lives,” said Rohde, who was formerly a part of the CMAD event planning. “It’s about connecting people to each other and resources to help them grow in their career. If they’re not winning, we’re not winning.”

Rohde is particularly proud of the creation last year of the Magento Masters Program, which awards Magento’s “top advocates and ecosystem thought leaders who have demonstrated their expertise in driving innovation through Magento solutions. They are influencers in the industry in delivering best-of-class Magento implementations and advocate for Magento at industry events.”

The “Masters” can help other people succeed as Magento developers. 

“It’s cool to hear their stories,” Rohde said. 

Before managing the 210,000-plus-community-member Magento ecosystem, Rohde was a producer for My Community Manager and also held a role as community and UX lead for Rebellion Media.

In addition to managing Magento’s online community, she supports meet-ups around the world to put some faces to the names of some community members.

Magento has representation on six of seven continents (“we’ve got to teach some penguins to use Magento,” Rohde said).

“There is no real replacement for face to face,” Rohde said. “At conferences, we call it the ‘Hallway track.’ That’s where you have conversations that are so helpful.”