The online community manager position has become mainstream. Many have referenced my outline for the Responsibilities and Goals for a Community Manager. I have been evolving that definition since 2007 and it remains my most read post. But the concept of having one person doing all things social is limiting.

Companies are taking community to a new level by empowering staff. Many brands are realizing that their social media strategy requires an internal position to guide and champion it. The Community Strategy position provides organizations with a role that works holistically and cross-functionally in ensuring that all departments are leveraging social media in a way that meets their team objectives.

Definition of Community

Many consider community in a very limited way. My definition is very broad and encompasses everyone that is interacting from both the company standpoint and the public.

  • Internal Community – All corporate stakeholders including staff, management, executives, board members and shareholders.
  • External Community – Brand owned properties; Corporate presences on social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn); Social channels (blogs, Wikipedia entries, forums, Nings, Google & Yahoo groups, YouTube, Flickr); Mainstream media that allow comments; Ratings and review sites (Amazon, TripAdvisor, etc)
  • Anyone searching for information

The last one is key. You want to be found by everyone needing your products and resources. Community building creates invaluable organic SEO.

Meeting Business Objectives

The role can’t be justified without having goals and metrics associated with it. Every organization has some form of ‘sales’. Even non-profits have some type of conversion needed. Those could range from increasing the number of donations, the number of volunteers, and brand visibility.

The community strategy role will work towards:

  • defining a plan to empower staff
  • review all customer touchpoints and ensure frictionless engagement
  • review all departments and provide recommendations and training on ways that teams can utilize social to meet their objectives

The diagram below has the sales funnel on it’s side and shows how community building assists in moving customers through the sales funnel over time. Social channels can be used to build brand awareness and enable the conversion. Once the sales is made customer service is of utmost importance. There is a new opportunity to cross sell & up sell. Crowdsourcing the social web will provide feedback for product development.


The ROI of social media!

Over time the following benefits will be realized.

  • Increased word of mouth means that consumers are sharing the marketing messages. This results in a reduced need for PR, marketing & advertising spend. Acquisition costs are lower.
  • Higher quality leads that have a higher percentage of converting. Warm leads mean a savings on cold calling
  • Providing excellent customer service in the channels where consumers are at means a lower abandonment rate of products and the brand and a much higher loyalty.
  • Overall a shorter sales cycle can be realized and a longer customer life cycle.
  • Product development costs can be reduced by utilizing feedback from the social web.
  • Creating products that consumers WANT will mean increased sales and demand.


Challenges for integrating community building into a company’s culture

Startups have the advantage of not having an established culture. The people are passionate and very agile. It is easy to create a team approach with a focus on content marketing and connecting directly with the customer

Existing organizations have a much bigger challenge. Community management is almost an intervention. In order to achieve the objective of applying social media across the enterprise and create a social business, one needs to identify the barriers, encourage cross-functional collaboration, and assess incentivization in order to reverse engineer the problems to find solutions,

It’s important to have executive buy in along with support from management. This role needs to be empowered to provide training, identify problems and work with front line staff.

The larger the organization the more challenging it is to shift content from the intranet to be public facing. The business of the future will have the majority of it’s content not only public facing but also generated by consumers. Present day intranets are largely siloed which creates challenges for a community strategist.

The web has removed the barriers of geography but this creates a challenge for global companies. Many are geography based and teams need to revise how they operate. Listeningn to the social web is also challenging because of geography and languages.

What have I forgotten? What else do you need to sell this position to your executives?