Community managers: the most understated role in marketing

O2 twitterA salary doesn’t define the importance of role within our industry. Perhaps it should. Perhaps the supply of, so-called, “Community Managers” far outweighs the demand. Not likely. Maybe, the wheels of higher education haven’t yet appreciated the current need for skilled, social-savvy, brand ambassadors (for want of better job title!). What is clear, in my view, is that the current situation is not best placed to serve the flood of real-time brand-to-consumer conversations that is needed.

Nimble brands and agencies have evolved their approach to content planning, creative, production, insight and customer service. They’re the few among the many. They’re also reaping the rewards, easily grabbing their moment in the Sun off the back of quickly executed smart content. O2 (pictured) have become the masters of this.

Whilst we could all rattle off a number of shining examples (be they opportunistic content or best in class customer service), we should accept that there are many more examples of missed opportunities and those that simply got it wrong. The first touch point is often the community manager. Whilst, things have moved on from a few years ago – you can expect to see them sitting there with two screens, [insert mainstream monitoring dashboard here] and headphones in – are we giving the keys to the best person possible?

Good community managers are hard to come by.

So, why are we not nurturing the ones that we have? We’re not taking it seriously enough. Community Managers are the ultimate brand ambassadors. They’re the front line face of the brand. Having the tools in place is valuable. It’s surely more important to have the best possible person using those tools. Someone who knows the ins and outs of the brand history, the product(s), the brand strategy and the brand personality.

The copywriter once owned these keys. If we’re to use a channel that requires incredible scale and speed then we need to resource appropriately. We no longer have the luxury of four weeks and three rounds of amends. We have an hour. Our audience is not always happy (often far from it). Once it’s broadcast, our feedback will be from the customer for all to see.

Let’s look at how we’re currently set up.

Let’s consider the importance of the community manager.

Let’s better it.

Steve Cater is Head of Digital, whynot!.

  • Sam Barnes

    As a community manager myself, I found this article incredibly refreshing.

    I’m the swiss army knife of digital marketing for the company I work for.

    There’s lots of interesting stuff that I get to be involved in and my opinion really counts! I guess I’m one of the lucky ones that’s managed to get into a business who have completely embraced social and all its possibilities.

    From what I hear … others aren’t so lucky!

  • Steve Cater

    Thanks Sam. Glad you liked it.

  • Mark Donington

    I have a couple of friends who are community managers and as I see it, they play a very important part in a brands communication.

  • markpinsent

    Understated or underrated?

    Either way, I agree. A good community manager is highly skilled. There are plenty of sorry stories about unskilled staff members being given control of brand social media profiles. Community managers need to be natural communicators, good writers, visual content producers and, possibly most of all, bloody sensible! I don’t know if anyone’s done the research, but I’d assume that good community managers have very high emotional intelligence levels. In fact high EI should be an essential requirement.

  • Steve Cater

    Understated, Mark.