This is a guest blog post by Rich Beattie, Senior Director Oracle Social
The rise of social gave birth to a brand-new and vital position within organisations: the community manager. But to be honest, “community managers” didn’t begin with social media networks. While maybe not recognised by the title, community managers date back to the early internet days when individuals monitored BBS (bulletin board systems) and forums as well as online community managers in the gaming world. But, without a doubt, it was the rise of Facebook and Twitter that really created what we know today as the community manager.
Although still in its infancy, the role of community managers becomes more important and enhanced every year. Industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang first brought the world’s attention to community managers in the autumn of 2007 publishing “The Four Tenets of the Community Manager.” In 2010, he called for an international “Community Manager Appreciation Day” to occur on the 4th Monday of January. Since then it’s occurred every year and continues to grow.
Today, almost every major brand has at least one person, or increasingly more people managing their social communities. But despite their increased relevancy, they still haven’t earned their due respect for the critical role they play in a brand’s overall success. The main reason? Lack of understanding of social and absence of a provable “ROI”.
To many people, social media is quite simply another communications channel. And as with anything new and different it takes time to understand. This is very true for many C-level executives – the very people providing the resources and manpower for social. Savvy social individuals, however like community managers, realise this “communications channel” is so much more than just that. It has completely changed the way people and businesses communicate by breaking down global barriers and providing an incredibly effective and seamless real-time platform. It’s not a one-off campaign or “push” marketing channel; it’s a two-way conversation platform that gives consumers the power and ability to be heard, answered and engaged. And it takes a dedicated community manager—armed with the latest technologies—to keep those relationships running 24/7.
Consumer usage of social media has exploded in popularity, as Facebook closes in on one billion consumers and Twitter tops 200 million, we also have a wealth of emerging platforms like Google+, Instagram and Pinterest. This growth reaches beyond the internet-enabled computer as smartphone proliferation creates hundreds of millions of mobile consumers that make social networks their on-the-go digital portal.
Bottomline: Consumers are increasingly making social networks their primary digital portal. And the community manager is your brand’s front line.
Armed with the right technologies and resources, brands today can achieve instant scale across Facebook and other social networks and almost simultaneously hyper-target content for individual, niche audiences for relevancy. They can mine a treasure trove of data and learn more about their consumer than ever before. They can listen, learn and engage in real-time. They can create incredibly vibrant and thriving communities that help brand awareness, brand loyalty, customer relations, and drive overall goals. Social can help your consumers become brand advocates.
But these things don’t happen without a dedicated community manager or team of community managers – monitoring, listening, engaging and creating a valuable community 24/7.
We’ve seen a rash of consolidation across the space as traditional, big enterprise software companies have been acquiring social. Social will begin to be integrated across enterprise, helping to reach, engage and learn about the consumer at every touch point. This will create a much more informed, effective and efficient process for both brands and consumers. As this happens, the community manager role will rise in importance, helping facilitate, learn and respond from the volume of metrics and creating a seamless experience for consumers and brands.
Community managers matter greatly to brands. And their stock is on the rise.
Photo (cc) Jeff Turner