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Happy Community Manager Appreciation Day!

January 25, 2010

Today is Community Manager appreciation day, so proclaimed Jeremiah Owyang.   Who knew?    As usual, I was a bit late to the party, finding out after one of our community’s tireless moderators took a moment to recognize me as CM and encourage the community to give me a pat on the back.  (Thanks Jane!)

 Jeremiah nets some of the challenges out in a few great bulleted points:

  • Many challenges are internal: Most companies want to hide customer issues, and shuffle them into existing support systems. Additionally, measuring ROI in new media when a company wants to keep the kimono shut, increasingly becomes a challenge.
  • Seemingly never ending job: Customers never stop having problems, and with the global internet, the questions, complains, and inquires never stop.
  • Emotional drain impacts lifestyle: The sheer emotional strain of dealing with a hundreds of yelling customers and the occasional trouble maker will take a strain on anyone.
  • Privacy risks in the world of transparency: In an effort to build trust with customers, they expose their real name exposing their personal –and family– privacy forever on. “

No doubt that there are executives and management in companies who still  believe you are recklessly damaging the brand by allowing the negativity  to mount as issues are discussed.   Years ago, companies handled calls one at a time, and customer experiences were isolated.  A company knew more about the collective landscape than did the individual customer.  The proliferation of social networks has turned that on its head.  I think most companies are well on their way  to understanding this  and some customers are beginning to think more in terms of partnership, and less in terms of just being a squeakier wheel than the next person posting.   I think prudent transparency will feel less dangerous over time.

Communities ebb and flow like the ocean with members reading and reacting to one another and the company messages twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.   But like the ocean, the community can be a dangerous thing to turn your back on.  Anxiety over what is being posted in public right now, orwhat private requests for aid are going unreplied can follow a community manager on vacation or haunt his sleep.

The emotional drain is quite real and can furrow one’s brow during supper.  

Privacy – ah, the ever vigilant attempt to protect members from themselves, and others.   The privacy issue remains seemingly one-sided in communities today.  The customer is generally unfettered to name names, dates, events, facts from their perspective, while the company is limited in the ability to counter with pictures, documentation, call transcripts, or other information related to the matter at hand.

So why do we do it?   Despite these challenges, communities are truly a rewarding place to meet new people, share experiences, solve issues collectively, and generally build goodwill.    If this were easy, then it probably wouldn’t be work, and there wouldn’t be much value to it.   Luckily, the burden is shared and I know many have my back.

Thanks Jeremiah for carving out a day for us.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jane Loyless permalink
    January 26, 2010 4:48 am

    Hope it was a *good* CMAD! 🙂

  2. January 26, 2010 4:59 am

    Yeah, even though I didn’t find out that it was CMAD until late in the day, it was a good day! … Film at 11… ; )

  3. January 28, 2010 3:21 pm

    happy belated CMAD, mark!

    😛 ¡ɯǝɥʇ uɐq ‘noʎ ǝʇɐıɔǝɹddɐ ʇ,usǝop ʎʇıunɯɯoɔ ǝɥʇ uı ǝuoǝɯos ɟı puɐ˙˙˙

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