Community Manager Appreciation Day (CMAD) is upon us.
Let the festivities commence – even in the Mid-Atlantic states, where they’re living out of igloos at the moment post-Jonas.
But as we celebrate 24 hours of community management, we thought we could use a little dose of empathy. What is it really like to be a community manager in 2016?
One is the Loneliest Number
To find out, we partnered with Canadian intranet provider Igloo Software, who conducted a series of eight interviews with community managers and built a special microsite in the buildup to CMAD (where you can also see the full interviews).
From its research, Igloo has uncovered at least two main themes, said Marine Dumontier, Igloo’s web marketing manager.
Theme one is the idea that community management is not an individual’s responsibility. Sure, someone may have the words “community” or “manager” on a business cards – and he may be the one doing the “heavy lifting,” said Dumontier.
But to succeed, community management requires a strong team effort across multiple partners. Not just to get the work done but to be sure messages are spread as far and wide as needed.
Amplifying the Effort
Dumontier quoted one of the community manager’s from Igloo's interviews, a woman we'll call Sonia:
“My internal partner [is the] business operations lead. Nadia has worked with me to improve the way employees communicate, find information and connect with one another. I also have to recognize my community champions. They’re the subject matter experts for their spaces, and they continue to drive awareness of all the knowledge that’s stored there. It definitely takes a team effort to make a community successful."
Or let’s listen to Ethan, who talked about how it’s important for him to partner with “stakeholders throughout our organization.” His role is about being the good partner for them, ensuring they have a community plan and initiatives to achieve their “business objectives.” It could be a matter of teaching them about the power of the organization’s blog or how to best use its intranet.
Show, Don't Tell
The second theme is a communications staple: it’s better to show rather than tell.
“People in your organizations are busy with their own jobs. Forcing a process on someone who doesn’t understand the value only goes so far. To get people really excited, you got to show it to them live,” Dumontier said.
It’s one of the aspects of her community management job that Sonia loves best: “hearing the excitement in someone’s voice” when she shows them how to use a new tool or a “cascading style sheet.”
“What initially looked intimidating to them now offers great opportunity to bridge knowledge gaps,” Sonia said.
Go Team Go
We can go back to the parable of it being better to teach a person to fish than to bake them up a breaded flounder for supper.
Community manager Ethan would much rather walk over to a colleague’s desk and teach them how to post something — “sometimes over and over and over again” — than to do it for them.
“It’s still the key to increasing adoption,” he says.
To summarize, it seems like community managers in 2016 must demonstrate solid teamwork and must unselfishly give of themselves.
Which brings us to one more theme on Community Managers Appreciation Day: showing all community managers the love.