the state of community managementAs strong community management becomes an increasingly integral part of any digital marketing strategy, it’s fascinating to watch the continued evolution of the community manager. What was once an infrequently filled role has become a widespread position that’s slowly being viewed as a more valuable asset.

To see evidence of this shift, take a look at The Community Roundtable’s 2013 State of Community Management: The Value of Community Management report, an annual research initiative that highlights key findings about the position.

This year’s research was driven by two primary queries:

1) What do business communities look like and what is the value of community?

2) What does community management look like and what is the value of community management?

Here’s a look at some of this year’s insights:

Community Managers Aren’t Just Technicians

Current data reveals one particular finding that’s “clearer than it has been in the past,” according to the report—technical skills are no longer primary requirements for becoming a community manager. Instead, it’s all about engagement and people skills. And when you think about what community management entails, i.e. relationship building, engagement and conversation, doesn’t this make perfect sense?

Well-Managed Communities Create Their Own Norms

You might have heard of the “90-9-1” rule, which states that, for every 100 people in a community, 90 are lurkers, 9 are contributors, and 1 is a content creator. The Community Roundtable’s data actually defies this rule, illustrating that many communities have equal numbers of creators and contributors. That sort of shift generally speaks to the high quality of community management, yet other factors like community purpose, type of community and technical ease of use can create increased engagement, too. The bottom line? Understanding your particular community is key so that you can tailor your approach to best suit their specific needs.

Community Managers Are Valuable

More and more companies are recognizing the value of community managers. And that doesn’t just translate to factors like salary (current average: $65,778). This year’s data also shows that 80% of organizations that could calculate the value of community management employed more than one community manager. The bottom line? Community management is hard work. And it’s important, too. The companies that recognize that are staffing accordingly, and I expect this number to be even higher next year.

“Community Managers Are Hubs”

I loved this particular quote from The Community Roundtable’s report—it’s a powerful truth in one short sentence. Today’s community managers have massive roles and responsibilities, because, from a customer-facing perspective, they get it all. They field product and service complaints and route those to customer service (if they’re not actually the ones delivering customer service, which is also becoming more commonplace). They see firsthand what marketing and branding tactics are working and what’s falling flat, reporting back to marketing and sales to create a more impactful strategy. They’re often the first to hear about breaking news and issues involving the company, requiring direct liaison with public relations. Product development may also work with community managers to get feedback about new products or ways to tweak existing offerings. If there’s one word to describe a community manger’s role in any organization, it’s hub.

Another interesting theme emerged in this year’s report: the need for resources. Just as sales, marketing, R&D, etc. require tools and assistance to fully do their jobs, so do community managers. Community managers are not superhuman—they need support and resources to make things happen. And if empowered accordingly, they can easily transform an organization.

Make some time to read more closely through The Community Roundtable’s report—I think you’ll find it as worthwhile as I did. And once you do, I’d love for you to stop back by and share your thoughts. Do these findings mimic what you’re seeing in your own community management microcosm?

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