A New Kind of Community Management #CMAD 2015

Community Manager Appreciation Day, for me, is an opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been as a practice and as a formative industry, and where we are going.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 12.48.56 PMThere are vibrant & global conversations happening today and that makes me very happy. As someone who has invested most of their career building online (and offline) communities, it is encouraging to see the “tribe” come together for the day.

On the other hand, it occurs to me that the practice of building and managing online communities is in a critical place. With all the progress, we still have miles to go.

Consider other professions of practice: Imagine if Doctors didn’t agree on foundational concepts and definitions? Imagine if Architects didn’t agree on measurements and scales? Imagine if Musicians allowed themselves to be constrained by the theory they learned at university. I could go on – you get the idea.

Further, online communities as we know them are in a state of evolution: the needs and desires of the typical online “member” are changing; hosted platforms, social networks, mobile apps and in person gatherings are pushing the experience and identity of a community to the point of being ethereal and organizations that host communities are scrambling to make sense.

In short: What got us here won’t (fully) get us where we need to go.

Next year, what advances should we strive for in the industry and the practice of building online communities? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Announcing the Online Community Unconference 2013 – We’re Back!

ocu2013_2

File under: blog posts I never thought I would be writing – but excited that I am.

It’s been an interesting journey to get here (and I’m certain it will continue to be), but I’m very pleased to announce that we will hosting the Online Community Unconference in Mountain View, CA on May 21ist.

You can register here. <

The Unconference planning team is rooted in the #OCTribe meetup and is made up of me, Kaliya Hamlin, Randy Farmer, Scott Moore, Susan Tenby, Gail Williams, Rachel Luxemburg and Maria Ogneva. Our plan is to closely follow the successful format of the Online Community Unconferences that ran from 2007 – 2010 in the Bay Area and New York that I produced when I was at Forum One – specifically:

  • Personally inviting key professionals in the industry to ensure a knowledgeable and experienced group
  • Adhering to the principles of Open Space Technology to ensure a quality event experience & maximum content – no filler / no talking head keynotes and no recycled presentations that you’ve seen from “noted experts” at other conferences. This is about real professionals having real conversations
  • A great location in the Computer History Museum
  • A commitment to document the proceedings  – see an example of the Book of Proceedings from the OCU 2009.
  • A fun and collegial environment

I’ll have more details as we get closer to the date, but the key things for now are:

  • Registration is open now with early bird rates @ $85
  • We are currently looking for a modest amount of sponsorship (feel free to email me)
  • Our hashtag is #OCU2013
  • We hope you can join us on 5/21!

And lastly… its nice to be back 🙂

Supporting Community Manager Appreciation Day #CMAD

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First established in January of 2010, Community Manager Appreciation Day (#CMAD) is held on the 4th Monday of January to celebrate the role of Community Manager. The celebrations range from small acts of gratitude, like thanking a staff community manager with a note, to major events and meetups all over the world.

Jeremiah Owyang, the event’s creator, is tracking all of the activity on his blog here:
4th Annual Community Manager Appreciation Day: Jan 28, 2013

San Francisco Happy Hour on 1/28
I am helping organize a San Francisco happy hour on the evening of the 28th at District Wine Bar. The event is free, but you must register and RSVP here:
Community Manager Appreciation Happy Hour – San Francisco

Google Hangout from the folks at My Community Manager
Tim McDonald and the team at My Community Manager are hosting a hangout on Google + all day on the 28th – more info at:
My Community Manager G+ #CMAD Hangout 

Again, Jeremiah is doing a great job of tracking all of the activity across the globe via this blog post.

Find YOUR own “A” in CMAD
I originally chose to support #CMAD because I believe that most organizations are underinvesting in and not properly prioritizing the role online communities can play in their marketing, sales and support strategies. I see #CMAD as a way to raise the visibility of the role of Community Management in addition to a whole lot of gratitude for Community Managers being passed around. With that being said, I have a couple of suggestions for celebrating #CMAD:

  • As a baseline, acknowledge the community managers on your staff with thanks and perhaps a small gift
  • Thank a community manager in one of your passion or hobby communities
  • Thank those you have learned from in the space – I threw a shout out to Amy Jo Kim, Howard Rheingold and Joe Cothrel… and I will continue to add to that list on the run up to the 28th
  • Think about how we go beyond “appreciation” for the CM role next year – should it be Advancement? Acceleration? Let’s ave this discussion during the year!

As I look back on my 14 years in the space, I am encouraged by the progress in tools, practices, programs and professional network… but we still have a long way to go! I look forward to seeing Bay Area Community Managers at the Happy Hour on 1/28.

Reflections on Community Manager Appreciation Day

Today was the third annual Community Manager’s Appreciation Day, or #CMAD. The intention of #CMAD is to raise awareness about the role of the Community Manager, and to recognize the hard working women and men who support this role for their organizations. Jeremiah Owyang originally proposed the idea for #CMAD, and has been very active in evangelizing and supporting it since launching 3 years ago.

I was had the privilege of joining Connie Bensen, a colleague on the Dell Community team, for a fantastic Google+ hangout today to talk about the evolving role of the Community Managers. the following folks participated and the video follows below:

+Bill Johnston, Director of Global Online Community, Dell;  <that’s me 🙂
+Jeremiah Owyang, Partner, Altimeter;
+Connie Bensen, Sr. Manager Community, Dell;
+Lionel Menchaca, Chief Blogger, Dell;
+Amy Muller, Chief Community Officer & Co-Founder, Get Satisfaction;
+Mark Harrison, Community Manager, Google Earth & SketchUp;
+Patrick O’Keefe, Author of Managing Online Forums / iFroggy Networks;
+Jim Storer, Principal/Founder of The Community Roundtable; and
+Vanessa DiMauro, CEO, Leader Networks.

Based on the G+ hangout, and subsequent conversations, I was encouraged by a number of things today:

  • The global community of community managers is alive and well. I saw hundreds of CM’s participating in the #CMAD hashtag via twitter and on Google+, and had Community Managers from all over the world reach out today.
  • The spirit of the day was generous and inclusive, with lots of shouts out to CMs all over the world.
  • The day surfaced a lot of great questions that the industry is struggling with, including where and how the Community Manager role (and related team roles) should evolve, how community management changes by online touchpoint, and how to deal with burnout in a very high-touch and sometimes emotional role.

My key hopes for next year (#CMAD 2013):

  •  That there is a more integrated approach to Community-building, as part of most organization’s social business efforts. Specifically, I hope that Community Management is seen as a role, as well as an intention (to form and nurture a network of relationships).
  • That we (as a community) will have developed mature social team structures, with specific roles and resources, robust enough to support a range organization types.
  • That we will see rich and diverse educational opportunities for Community Managers (and other social team members), coupled with mentoring opportunities.

As someone who has championed the value of Online Community building for most of my career (at least the last 12 years of it), I am very proud of where we are as an industry… but I also feel that we have much work ahead to fully realize the opportunities that online communities present to our respective organizations and stakeholders. I look forward to continuing the conversation with you all every day, including Community Managers Appreciate Day 2013.

Community Management as Stewardship – and Happy #CMAD!

stew·ard·ship
: the conducting, supervising, or managing of something;especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care <stewardship of natural resources>

In the run up to Community Manager Appreciation Day, I’ve had a lot of conversations about the evolving role of the community manager. One topic keeps surfacing during all the conversations, no matter how varied the duties and perceptions of the role may be: that of stewardship.

Contexts, duties, community purpose, member demographics, and many other variables can be unique to each and every online community , but one thing remains the same – the role of someone to care for the network of relationships over the long haul… and hopefully to leave the community in a better place than it was when that particular community manager started to engage.

As we honor all of our Community Managers today, I would encourage you to think about the concept of stewardship as it relates to the work of community management – the intention to care for the network over time. The commitment required, and the long-term value inherent.

To all the Community Managers out there: Happy #CMAD! You are all doing important and impactful work. You rock. Thank you.

Community Manager Appreciation Day: 1/24/11 – #CMAD

Monday, January 24th is the second annual Community Manager Appreciation Day.

Jeremiah Owyang kicked this off last year by suggesting we take a day every year to celebrate and acknowledge folks who work as community managers and related roles like community strategist, community support, customer outreach… basically, anyone who has the job of reaching out to customers online and building and growing relationships.

How can you participate? If you work with or employ a community manager, or if you are a member of an online community – let your community manager know that you appreciate what they do. Nothing elaborate – a note saying “thanks” will most certainly be appreciated. If you are a community manager, come celebrate! There are tons of local events happening on Monday – I’ve cribbed a partial list from Jeremiah’s blog (be sure to see his post for the most recent list):

Physical Events Around the World (from Jeremiah Owyang’s blog):

I’ll be celebrating at the Austin event. If you are going to be there, please say hi!

Announcing Community Manager Appreciation Day #CMAD

Last Friday, Jeremiah Owyang had a simple question: Is there a national day recognizing the work of Community Managers? The question spawned a conversation, which spawned a proposal for the day of recognition:

That day is today. Happy Community Manager Appreciation Day!

Every fourth Monday in January will be Community Manager Appreciation Day.

Community Managers have a challenging and exciting role. One the one hand, they are called on to be the personification of their organization to the online communities that they manage. One the other hand, they are also charged with being the advocate for the community back to the organization. Sort of like a benevolent double agent 🙂 The role of the community manager is evolving quickly as well, and we are starting to see the “swiss army knife” aspects of the role mature in to distinct roles on the community team: community product manager, moderator, internal community manager, social media manager, social ux designer, and many more disciplines.

We should take time to celebrate the folks doing the hands on work of shaping, supporting and nurturing online communities.

Background about Community Manager Appreciation Day from Jeremiah’s blog:

Now, Recognize A Community Manager, Every 4th Monday of January
While we agree with common manners to always thank someone after they’ve helped you, just take a moment to pause.. and think. Why would someone willingly go through the above mentioned challenges? Because of their passion to improve the company, and help customers have a better relationship.  In many cases, a genuine ‘thank you’ can mean more than a yearly customer satisfaction survey. Take the time to recognize and thank the community manager that may have helped you while you during your time of need.
If you’re a customer, and your problem was solved by a community manager be sure to thank them in the medium that helped you in.  Use the hashtag #CMAD.
If you’re a colleague with community manager, take the time to understand their passion to improve the customer –and company experience. Copy their boss.
If you’re a community manager, stop and breathe for a second, and know that you’re appreciated.  Hug your family.
This isn’t just about a single role, but a bigger trend of making product and services more efficient, and thereby our world a little bit more efficient and sustainable.
I happily endorsed this proposal along with the following community leaders Jeremiah pulled together over the weekend:

Connie Benson, Rachel Happe, Jake McKee, Sean O’Driscoll, Lane Becker, Dawn Foster, Thor Muller, Amy Muller and Jeremiah Owyang.