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.

Online Community Platform & Vendor Research

This is cross-posted from the Online Community Report blog.

The Online Community Platform and Services Satisfaction research report was published in March of this year as part of the ongoing efforts of the Online Community Research Network. The intention of the research project was to provide insight about customer attitudes towards online community platform and service vendors, particularly around satisfaction. Further, we wanted to explore the unmet needs in the online community platform and services market. The study had over 200 participants, and we gathered data on all major commercial and open source online community platforms, as well as feedback on custom built platforms. Key highlights from the research are covered in the slides below.

The full Online Communities: Platform and Services Satisfaction Report can be purchased here:
http://store.onlinecommunityresearch.com/oncoplandses.html

My SxSWi 2010 Panels – Please Vote (Because My Mom Can’t)

Please Vote!
Please Vote!

It is that time of year again… SxSW Panel Picking!!!

I have two proposals this year, and I would appreciate your support for either or both.

Panel #1:

What community and social media metrics are organizations tracking?

Bill Johnston, Chief Community Officer for Forum One (that’s me), will present and then lead a discussion about best practices with community & social media metrics and reporting, based on 4 years of ongoing research and data from thousands of participants on the topic. This session will dive deep into the topic of online community and social media metrics and reporting to explore:
• The role of community strategy in shaping reports
• Specific data sets that should be included in community and social media reports
• The limitations of native community and social media platform reporting
• Report design, distribution and frequency
• Stakeholder satisfaction with current community and social media reports

And Panel #2:

Where the Hell Are We In the Evolution of the Social Web?

Social media practice and implementation is a dynamic and volatile subject that effects all functions in a company from the obvious (product, support, marketing) to the not so obvious (hr, operations). Hear from 5 seasoned social media practitioners (plus YOU!) about where we are on “the map” of social media adoption and practice, and where we are headed. The mood will be lively, the panel bright eyed and prepared, and the audience smart (and involved).
Questions Answered:
1. Where are organizations on the social media adoption curve?
2. What departments should be involved with online communtiies?
3. What online community and social media metrics are organizations tracking?
4. What is the level of satisfaction with community and social media efforts by stakeholders?
5. Is ROI important?
6. How is the “static” organization web site being impacted by social?
7. How will online presences evolve?
8. What role will employees play in expression of brand online?
9. What’s on the horizon for online presence?

Check out this panel of Awesomeness! I’ll be joined by:
Aaron Strout – Powered
Jake McKee – Ant’s Eye View
Shawn Morton – Nationwide
Sean O’Driscoll – Ant’s Eye View

Online Communities: Surviving & Thriving – Part 3

Cross-posted from the Online Community Report.

This post is the third in a series of blog posts exploring our recent research into the effect of the down economy on Online Community and social media programs. In this post, I’d like to focus on the advice that the research respondents gave for thriving during the downturn, and what key resources they are relying on for advice and support. Keep in mind, this advice comes from community managers, executives and social media strategists (not analysts or observers) who are currently in the trenches dealing with issues firsthand.

First, A Bit of Background
We’ve been tracking the economies effect on community and social media programs since late fall of 2008. For background, I would recommend reading (or re-reading) the first two posts in the series:

Online Communities: Surviving and Thriving in a Downturn (Part 1)
My initial thoughts, from October of 2008, about the mounting pressure from the economy on community and social media programs, and suggestions for social media strategists and community managers on how to best navigate the issues.

Online Communities: Thriving in the Downturn (Part 2)
A post the highlighted several key findings from our Online Community Research Network project conducted late November and early December of 2008 . The intention of the study was to get a broad look at how online community programs are fairing within organizations in light of the recent economic changes. As noted in the previous post, we saw plenty to be concerned about. We saw layoffs, budget freezes and cuts, and in some cases program abandonment. But, we also saw a lot of data to be optimistic about including the fact that the majority of respondents reported continued support of their community activities, and in some cases, increased support.

Advice & Support
One key piece of information we were seeking in the study was what advice would the practitioners we interviewed give other peers? In the research survey we asked: “What advice would you give to your peers in regards to thriving during a slow economic period?”

Respondents gave varied advice to peers in regards to thriving during the down economy. The most common responses were related to streamlining their resources / costs and focusing on bottom line objectives.

The top pieces of advice that respondents wanted to offer to their peers in helping them thrive during an economy downturn are to:

  • Focus on Bottom line Objectives (15),
  • Be Creative (9) and
  • Offer Value / Uniqueness (8) and
  • Don’t Give Up / Stay the Course (8)


Graph: Categorized responses to the question: “What advice would you give to your peers in regards to thriving during a slow economic period?”

I’ve included some of the key respondent quotes, categorized below.

1. Stay Focused on Bottom Line Objectives:
“Focus on objectives that impact the bottom line…and on those easiest to quantify (e.g., self-serve support via community reduces our support Cost Per Incident by >50%)”

2. Be Creative – Work With the Constraints, Not Against
“With a reduced headcount in your organization, your (external) community power users become a critical resource, and more so than before, in helping other users. Recognize and reward the behavior of helping other users.”
“You have to be creative. Now is the time that truly inventive things can come about.”
“Embrace change and make yourself an asset to all departments, not soley content creation and UGC.”

3. Offer Value / Uniqueness
“Community professionals have the most valuable resource of all — we know our members/customers/users the best. Emphasize that knowledge whenever you can.”
“Make sure what you offer provides value to the customer. Encouraging peer-to-peer support in the community will reduce the need for extensive staffing – Remind decision makers what a bargain online communities are when compared to similar in-person activity.”
“Do the math and show your Management Team the ROI regarding community staff. Build a volunteer program (which should happen regardless of economic times). Keep in mind that people turn to each other, their communities, and entertainment in tough economic times.”
“Feature community content that pertains to the economy; ask for personal stories and conversation and offer community a place to share and solve financial challenges (e.g., online coupons, budgeting, creating handmade gifts; portfolio info), with contextual links to community message boards, blogs, polls, etc.”

4. Don’t Give Up / Stay the Course
“Continue to make decisions based upon your overall strategy, even within economic constraints, rather than just based upon economics. It’s possible to get clever and get more ‘bang’ for your buck. So focus on the long term.”
“Stick to your core. Analyze what you do best that differentiates yourself from competitors and focus on improving community features that tie into that”

The Most Important Resources
As part of the research project, we also asked respondents to rank a series of resources based on their personal sense of the value of the resource. Data below is from the question “How important are the following resources to you personally in ensuring the survival of your online community during a slow economy?”


Graph: Ranked responses to the question: “How important are the following resources to you personally in ensuring the survival of your online community during a slow economy?”

It is no surprise that access to support from other peers (read: other practitioners) and relationships with other Community Managers and Strategists ranked the highest.

The final report has been published to our Online Community Research Network members and research participants.

The full report (~45 pages) includes all collected data, charts from the date, and all write in responses. The full report expands on the content above, as well covering specific budget items that will likely be affected in 2009, tactics that community executives are employing in the downturn, and peer advice on thriving in the downturn.

The full report is also available for purchase here.

Next Online Community Roundtable 11/28 @ WebEx in Santa Clara

The next Online Community Roundtable is this Weds, 11/28 @ WebEx in Santa Clara.

Email me if you would like an invitation.

What is the Online Community Roundtable, you ask? The Roundtables were created out of my frustration in finding current, relevant sources for community management and strategy, and the especially difficult time I had finding and connecting to peers. The Roundtables are an intentionally under the radar gathering of Online Community Pros to network, share best practices and discuss current challenges. We hold them every month or so throughout the bay area, and the groups size is generally 15-20 people.

Again, email me if you would like an invitation, or are interested in future roundtables.