Durng the time of my involvement, active community management and consisted of:Reading the comments below Tom's post made me wonder about the philosophy behind community management. Some suggested that the end goal should be to create communities that do NOT need management. I believe this is a wholly bad idea.
- delivery of bi-weekly email update newsletters
- production of monthly webcasts
- active blog posting and blogger outreach
- uploading of fresh content each week
- continual promotion of the community in various forums through guerilla marketing
- ongoing brainstorming and strategizing with respect to improving the community experience
- priming of discussion forums, and
- ongoing communications with individual community members
It’s interesting to discover that a neglected community will indeed continue to function without a dedicated community manager. However, the results are lackluster and the picture are not ‘pretty’.
Think of it this way. I like going to the movies. I like watching movies. I am going to invite a bunch of friends, neighbors, and anyone else for that matter over to my house to watch and talk about movies. I'll get the TV ready, DVD player all set up, have a variety of movies to choose from, make snacks, and even ensure there is plenty of seating and that newcomers know what to do and who is who.
So, people start coming over, there are the regulars and a lot of people who are intermittent in their visits. After a year, I decide that the movie watching and discussion events can still happen at my house, but I won't be there anymore. Sure, the event can still function as it always did, but that golden thread that wove everything together -- content, people, familiarity, continuity, maintenance, individualization -- all those things are now fragmented and forgotten.
The role of online community manager is far more than just content publishing and functional oversight. It is hospitality incarnate. It is an essential and consistent human element ensuring that all the pieces fit together. To equate it with a short-term facilitator, believing that the truest measure of an online community's viability is its ability to thrive on its own, goes against every successful community (on or offline) that's ever existed. In this case, community engagement is the same online as it is offline -- the rules are basically the same, it's just the medium that's changed.
What do you think? Am I totally on to something here or way out in left field?
-- David Kinard, PCM
[photo credit: HyperLocalEdge]