How far social web community management has come in about five or six years. Three years ago, I speculated (forgive the intellectual 'selfie') that we would soon have to recognize the community manager's central role in an organization's social media strategy:
... approaching communities and influencers from their point of view (as opposed to pushing corporate content) requires embedded interaction. And that interaction can be mediated successfully only if there is someone to start and participate in it . . . the community manager.
The always useful 2013 State of Community Management report from The Community Roundtable tells us that the community manager has arrived. (A snarky aside: The Slideshare distribution approach is not the best since the graphic quality sucks.)
Some of the highlights from my perspective:
- The community manager role has grown in both accountability and complexity as it has become a social 'hub' within companies, linking and networking across many organization functions.
- Community managers are not prized so much for their technical skills but skills in the areas of — in rank order — engagement and people, content development, and strategy and business. That's how it should be of course.
- Community managers tend today to be staffed in-house. Interestingly The Community Roundtable people surmise, however, that in the future this will likely move more towards a combination of "a core internal team and an extended outsourced team that can give many programs the flexibility they need to expand and contract."
With respect to the last point, I would probably go further and add that in-house community managers may find that as the complexity of the role increases they will need the perspective of a seasoned digital strategist who can help shape new programs and approaches — and to defend them to the community manager's diverse internal audiences.