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Express discount code-How Much Community Could A Community Manager Manage If A Community Manager Could Manage Community? by Brian Oberkirch on February 4, 2009 Late one night at the bar in the Outrigger Canoe Club,

How Much Community Could A Community Manager Manage If A Community Manager Could Manage Community?

by Brian Oberkirch on February 4, 2009

Late one night at the bar in the Outrigger Canoe Club, Laurel, the new community manager for chi.mp, asked the obvious question most people don’t ask: what exactly does a community manager do?

Tony, Josh and I all tried to give an answer, but, as I recall, they sounded kind of lame. Naturally, you Twitter something in this type of situation. I did, and here is a juicy discussion that ensued on Friendfeed.

It’s obvious that most don’t care for the name, connoting that community *is* actually something that can be *managed*. Kevin Marks has a great rundown of Web community types thinking through this type of lingo: offering tummler, moderator, conversational catalyst, curator, connector and other words that magnetize thinking in a different place than ‘manager’. Check out Heather Gold’s Google Talk on ‘How to Be a Tummler.’ (More of Heather’s writing on what she calls ‘open source management’, including a video chat with George Oates.) Deb Schultz usually has a lot to say on this as well, ie this presentation of hers on community evangelism or her talk on weaving.

Aside from what we call the process and the gig, what they *do* is another thing altogether.

Smartly ride herd on the cattle, the cowboys, the ponies and the coyotes.

So, a community manager is someone who keeps an already-existing community happy. Who listens to the community and takes care of problems. Who finds new content and other things for that community, IE, who feeds that community.

My favorite part of the role is sifting through all the great feature requests and recommendations, getting free user feedback on how to make your product better.

They hang out in the community and rep the company and its products. Apologizes if the company screws up. Encourages people to choose the company’s products over the others. Helps people find the right person in the company to work with. Retains their humanity, and generally takes the customer’s side whenever possible. Quits if the company acts in an unprincipled way, so they act as a guarantor of the honesty of the company. A canary in the coalmine. Best if it’s the CEO of the company.

You’ll notice that people are all over on this. As it should be. For me, what matters are the practices that emerge out of grooming and growing healthy communities, and they need not apply elsewhere. So, it depends, is kind of my answer. Look to people who have done great work in this area already: Heather Champ, Tara Hunt, Jake McKee, Derek Powazek.

It’s something I’ll try to notice more and write more about. As we see job descriptions with the term, I’d like to steer people away from thinking of community as a place to do Advertising By Other Means.

We tried to define it that night in the bar, and the answers weren’t lame … just incomplete, which I think was a negotiating tactic

Community management is a balancing act between product development, marketing, and management within a company and support and development of a community. The title doesn’t really explain the responsibilities, but no matter, the role is too awesome to cram into a title anyway. Community: I work with our community. Management: I *management* all the communications to encourage and develop a dedicated and satisfied community.

For me, the role has evolved into:

Organizing and performing user testing, editing/testing content, developing communications, engaging in conversations, responding to concerns and suggestions, reporting recurring problems to designers/developers, making recommendations for improvements based upon user feedback, developing tools that help the community help themselves when possible, providing a community landscape report, checking the universe for comments or conversations directed at the company, responding to those comments where required…all while deeply engaged in customer support.

…gosh, I feel like I left a lot out and didn’t even begin to describe how much team coordination this takes…but I’ll save that for another day.

Thanks for the kind shoutout, Brian.

Lots of good thoughts on the definition, so I won’t try to belabor that point.

But I will say that it’s worth noting that depending on who you are talking to, “Community Management” is one of two things:

– Day-to-day engagement and moderation of a specific community

Higher level strategic thinking about driving community-type activities forward.

While there is certainly some overlap between those two, they aren’t really the same role, even though they have the same name.

I’d say the key element of community management and tummeling personally, (I really do the latter as a performer more than the former) is that you are focussed on serving the conversation rather than yourself.

It’s a way of focussing on collective interest that seeks to enable as much self-government and quality of experience together as possible. The best way for this to happen is to be one of the community, not just someone “ruling” it.

Btw, Deb Schulz feel quite strongly that Tummeling and Community Management are not the exact same thing (the former really focusses on cross-pollination and energy building more than the latte..tummeler is a Yiddish word for someone hired to make sure that everyone has a good time at the party. It was used for performers in the Catskills who both put on a great show *and* engaged with the “audience.”)

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SOURCE: http://www.brianoberkirch.com/2009/02/04/how-much-community-could-a-community-manager-manage-if-a-community-manager-could-manage-community/


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