Facebook not only changed the social web, but recreated a profession.
Before Facebook became the dominant social media platform, the main task for community managers was to program forums and communications systems. A necessary side job of their data management responsibility was to act as moderator, and they often did it poorly.
And today? The Facebook universe, with its intuitive user interface, makes programming and data management skills unimportant and suddenly changed the requirements for the job.
In place of data management came stakeholder dialogue. Facebook’s ease of use and mass capability makes the platform an entry point for more and more people to contact brands and businesses directly. Compared to the pre-Facebook era, the work of community managers is not just increasingly about content; it’s also taking a more strategic focus.
Companies and their community managers are faced with real-time communication and its associated challenges. In addition to a new job profile, it includes the creation of new working conditions such as flexible hours, as Facebook fans don’t arrange their activities around the close of business.
Communication independent of time and place as well as the new form of dialogue management require new competencies.
The New Community Manager Profile
Community Management features the word “management” in its name for good reason. Human resources departments should do the term justice by giving the position an active leadership function, e.g. a description in middle management of a company, which includes the planning, organization, leadership and control of the business-related community. This requires sound strategic skills, social skills and project management know-how.
The reality is somewhat different. In many cases, companies are lagging behind the rapid development of the profession. They either leave it to programmers and technical specialists in the field or they hire community managers that have an online affinity, but little strategic expertise due to their education or limited professional experience.
Community management on Facebook is not reduced to individual tactics. It maintains an overall objective that is relevant for the entire company. The community manager must be able to steer content management for the community in terms of strategic objectives. Community Management on Facebook runs throughout the entire value chain
In the role as mediator between the business and the community, the community manager is not just facilitating and moderating the fan page. The community manager is also responsible for responding to the feedback from fans, working to prevent crises and leading the community. This means a community manager needs to bring all of the social skills of a conventional manager: motivation, leadership and conflict resolution.
From the way fans are addressed (formally or informally) to the basic tonality and theme of contributions up to the frequency and occasions for posts, it is the responsibility of the community manager to represent the company authentically. This requires high emotional intelligence.
As the interface between company and community, the community manager governs the process of dialogue between companies and stakeholders. Additionally, the community manager is responsible for the compilation of valid key data to measure the success of community dialogue. This requires sound project management skills, as complex communication processes are planned, managed and evaluated throughout the value chain.
Businesses that invest in dialogue with stakeholders are engaging in a long-term process. An important area of responsibility for the community manager is the ongoing development of the relationship between the business and community through new content, interactions and tactics.
The Community Manager Of Tomorrow
It’s possible that the community manager of tomorrow will no longer manage a few, larger communities, but many smaller groups if the predicted trend for the fragmentation of communities actually occurs. No one knows for sure if this will take place on Facebook or on other new platforms.
One thing is sure: the job profile of community manager 3.0 will surely increase in complexity, as fan communities of companies will grow with increasing Internet use and present their demands and requirements to the company. It’s all the more important that the strategic relevance and spectrum of tasks for the community manager be granted and accepted within the company.
Britta Heer is head of digital at Edelman in Germany and is Jasper Krog is a consultant at Edelman Digital.