Demanding Better For The Community Management Industry
Changes will occur within the industry, but one fact stays true: Community should reside *across* the organisation.
Several things have happened over the past 24 hours that have made it clear to me that my industry, Community Management, is in a state of flux which both excites me and depresses me. I fear that the industry is in danger of being degraded by its very proponents and members: community managers.
First, I had a chat with a social business entrepreneur, and she asked me for the state of the job market for Community Managers, especially here in the UK. I replied that it is easy to get a job as a Community Manager here, as long as you’re:1. A Recent Graduate
I see this qualification in almost 97% of the job descriptions posted for Community Managers here.
2. A Social Media ’Native’
Usually, there are no further qualifications attached to this entry; it’s very possible that having used more than two Social Media tools in their personal or professional lives will be suitable. "Hey, great! Twitter + Facebook = you’re a native!"
3. A Person Who Doesn’t Mind Doing Two Or More Disparate Jobs, All Lumped Together
Most every job description is for a Community Manager/Social Media Manager and sometimes more. I could utilise 90 million words to explain why this simply isn’t true, but let’s leave it at this: social media is a TOOLyou use to ENGAGE your COMMUNITY. They are not the same thing. And on another note, it’s just wrong to fill one post with one salary but give the incumbent 3 different job descrptions and responsibilities.
The entrepreneur then said to me, ’But if all of the Community Manager vacancies are being held by recent graduates, how are they handling reporting to Board Level? Or, is it that Community is so far down in the organisation that they don’t need to worry about understanding the business?’
Community should reside *across* the organisation, as it is integral to every part of it. Customer Support, PR, Social, Marketing, Product Development... each of them should understand the goals and objectives for having a Community, which will ensure their focus on it, and increase the overall value which can be obtained from the Community. And if they don’t know or understand the idea of Community, it’s up to the Community Manager to make it a viable solution for that team. For this, you need to understand their challenges even better than they do!
But if you do not have business experience, it will be very hard for you to help these disparate departments, each of which will have its own needs and challenges, as well as definition and understanding of Community, to understand the overall value of Community. This lack of experience can be a very risky and dangerous thing, which may eventually jeopardise the organisation’s belief in the Community. As Ursula in The Little Mermaid put it, ’This could be the key to Triton’s undoing.’ For if a Community Manager can’t make Community valuable to every single division within the organisation, seeds of doubt will be planted, will take root rapidly, and will be nearly impossible to pull once rooted.
Second, I was asked by some Community Managers for any professional certifications or professional associations within the industry. This is great progress for the infant Community Management industry. It means that the professionals within this industry want to show expertise and growth within their roles, and soon will be asking for Career Path goals from their organisations. Fantastic!
However, all of this elation was deflated when I was asked by another Community Manager: "I’ve just started as a Community Manager. How do you recommend I go about building Community?"
Well, joining professional associations is a good starter. Get training, seek inspiration from influencers, and get certified. Read everything you can. Research, learn, join, engage, question, posit, prove, try, fail, succeed.
It’s disappointing that I had to point these things out to this individual. Please don’t degrade the professionalism and integrity of my industry by not doing your homework, by not trying, by asking for it to be handed to you on a silver platter.
I expect better from you than that, and I demand better for my Community Manager industry. We should all be focussed on the goal of raising awareness of the value of Community, and of the Community Management industry.
Bring your A Game, please!
This article first appeared here.
Christie Fidura is a Senior Consultant at The Perfect Circle, helping brands devise a strategy to build community to obtain maximum market impact.www.weareperfectcircle.co.uk/
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