Last week’s visit to Gilbane provided great access to insights and applications about the convergence of content, collaboration and the customer experience. In our attempt to provide you with a snapshot of sessions and vendors, it’s not always easy to be everywhere at once, especially when you’re not just an observer, but an active participant. Such was the case when I presented about the role of the community manager.

Exploring Social Matters

As the community manager at CMSWire, I help to curate content, connect users with relevant information and insights, while monitoring our community channels to listen to our fans and followers so we best represent them in the topics we cover, the conferences we attend and the venues we provide for engagement.

I presented as part of Thursday’s "Social Matters" session and was humbly paired with Georgiana Cohen, principal and founder at Crosstown Digital Communications and co-founder of Meet Content; and Margot Bloomstein, brand and content strategy consultant at Appropriate, Inc, who moderated the session. Together, we set out to demonstrate how to engage audiences with relevant content.

After Georgy effectively outlined how web communicators can bridge online communities with offline communities, I talked about the evolving role of the community manager. The position of community manager, however, is one that exists only in the periphery of online content management. It’s either one person doing all the work, or it’s altogether missing from web and marketing operations. Ideally, the role of community manager lives within everyone’s job description so that relationships can be managed and information can be shared more efficiently. 

Learning to Define Goals, Challenges & Value

Companies don’t always embrace emerging technologies willingly until it’s too late. Instead of growing organically alongside them, it is a struggle to keep up, making it even more challenging to identify where customers are, what they are saying and what it means for the company. However, companies can help make the process of managing its communities easier by defining what the customer wants, what the company can reasonably deliver and what it means for all involved.

Too often, businesses are focused on what’s in it for them, without thinking about what’s in it for the customer. After all, no matter how savvy and sophisticated your products or services are, if it’s not what or where the customer wants it, it doesn’t matter. Additionally, it isn’t just about tangible goals, like revenue earned or products sold; it’s also about the intangible goals, like how did it make the customer feel or how can we make the customer feel valued.

Certainly, there are many layers to community management. We plan to explore more of them in January, as we celebrate a new year of customer experience (and our theme for the month). I hope you’ll stay tuned and tell us what you think and share insights about how you manage your community.