We Are All Community Managers Now
When President Kennedy spoke, “Ich bin ein Berlinerdid,” (I am a Berliner) he did not mean that all Americans were now West Germans and moving to West Berlin. He was underlining the United States’ support for West Germany and promoting a mindset to U.S. citizens where they would themselves support the efforts of free Europe.
Just as Kennedy built support for a cause larger than the presidency by aligning himself with West Berliners, business executives must promote the idea that they, and everyone else in the organization, play a role in building community. It is not the job of one group, but the goal of all employees.
The “I am a Community Manager” mentality underscores a set of values that are pervasive in the DNA of game-changing businesses throughout all industries. Across departments, seniority levels, and functions people drive tangible business results by putting customers first, members first, and community first.
Build Upon Two Social Business Values
Social business describes an organization's ability to use its communities to improve its performance.
Though communities, even online communities, have existed in business environments for many years, incorporating support for the community into everything that one does can be new to many organizations. Like most cultural shifts, this mindset is most successful when it permeates the organization from the boardroom to the mailroom.
Here are two values that successful social businesses use to spread this outlook:
Value #1: Strong Communities Make Strong Companies
Value #1: Everyone in the Company Can Strengthen the Online Community
Will There Be Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen?
While many groups within an organization will access the online community software and contribute to the online community’s value, this does not mean everyone will be posting, commenting, and uploading documents.
- The CEO can spot trends worth validating in the community, encourage partner participation, and develop content that promotes transparency.
- Customer support representatives can anticipate customer questions and create helpful content that addresses the issues.
- The product managers can rely on the community for consistent two-way interactions with customers, prospects, and partners.
- The sales team can monitor customer conversations and identify opportunities for upselling, retention, or good references.
- The event coordinator can crowdsource programing details, identify volunteers and speakers, and build enthusiasm for conferences.
What About the Official Community Managers?
An organization’s formally-titled community managers play a vital in gathering, aggregating, and shaping these ideas to maximize their impact on customers, the community, and the company.
How To Establish Social Business DNA
While most people agree with the end goal, it is the getting-there and communication of the path that can trip organizations up. To help your organization frame these important social business values in your company, start with these three cultural guidelines:
- Care About People.
- Care About Helping.
- Care About Community.
They seem basic, but when most of your team spends their day in the weeds, these tenants can make all of the difference in building community. They are the foundation for getting traction with online customer or member communities. For instance, imagine how the motivation and perspective changes when you look at the following scenario in two different ways.
Sample Task: Answering a Support Request from a Customer
Without Social Business DNA:
- I have to respond to another support ticket.
- My customers are stupid.
- I have answered the same question three times already this week.
With Social Business DNA:
- I am helping someone do their job and, in turn, helping them become more successful with my company’s products.
- The customer is probably trying to get something done under pressure from their management or so that they can get home to their family in time for dinner.
- How can I contribute to our online customer community so that I alleviate this issue for this and other customers who have the same questions?
With the rise of social networking’s central place in the business landscape, companies who build these guidelines into their culture often see an increase in revenue follow.
Online Community Takeaway
An important part of planning a social business strategy is educating your management, employees, and partners on what online communities can do your organization and what is takes to build community among your customers or members. The benefits don’t appear overnight and with the tremendous upside of online communities comes a great responsibility to serve the community.
Growing an online community is not a self-serving marketing tactic. It can be a fragile balance of promotion, openness, and education. Follow and share this paraphrased piece of americana as you are planning your social business strategy:
“Ask Not What Your Online Community Can Do For You,
Ask What You Can do For Your Online Community.”
Creating a corporate culture where everyone in the company serves the community will enable the online community to thriving over time.