Who are community managers?

There is a new group of professionals developing in Finland called Community Managers. They work in social media to steer their respective communities in the desired direction.

There are approximately 200 individuals in the Finnish CMF – Community Managers in Finland LinkedIn group. The representatives of this new profession have several names in Finnish, but despite the fact that the job titles and job descriptions vary, they all work with networks to steer them in a particular direction. (Chatting with your own friends on Facebook is not usually community management).

Community managers first started out working on hobby sites until eventually organisations realised that they needed someone to direct and manage consumers – the communities made up by an organisation’s customers.

Why do this? Terho Savolainen from Genelec Ltd summed up the reasons as:

· To increase brand loyalty

· A new marketing channel

· Peer-to-peer technical support

· New product ideas

A dream job?

At the beginning of the millennium, web strategist, Jeremiah Owyang, studied the job descriptions of community managers working in organisations, and found some common elements.

Community managers steer communities in social media by marketing company events, products and services, as well as collecting feedback and ideas that are useful for their employers. A community manager must also settle differences of opinion and thank members of the community for appropriate behaviour.

Sound like a dream job? Community managers working directly with customers do a valuable but difficult job. They have to deal with company-internal conflicts and also the never-ending customer issues (complaints). Furthermore, the community manager works under his or her own name and therefore does not have the luxury of privacy. Active community members make suggestions and ask questions incessantly, and these questions have to be answered with the same politeness regardless of whether they are stupid questions or not. A community manager must be able to take criticism for his or her own choice of words as well as the employer’s actions. Unfortunately, organisations do not fully understand the role and purpose of community managers – You can’t do any serious work in Facebook, it's just a place to hang out!

Even the thick-skinned need thanks

Community managers need mutual support not only to release the tension of their work, but also to learn new best practices from one another. In order to highlight the importance of these work-hounds, Jeremiah Owyang suggested the Community Manager Appreciation Day (CMAD) in 2010. On the 4 th of January, communities will pause to celebrate their managers in both live and social media events around the globe. In Finland, the first CMAD event took place in 2012. The following year over half the places were booked within the first week. The 200 seats for next year’s event went in the first two days! A fact that tells of the growth of the profession and the need for a mutual support group.

During the CMAD event, community managers will share their experiences of traditional and social media and how they are changing in Finland. We will also look at examples of traditional and social media networks, social media-based applications and different ways of managing and developing communities.