Community Managers Evolve in the Collaborative Economy #CMAD

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Today marks the 5th Annual Community Manager Appreciation Day, or #CMAD for short. I’m thankful to the community for rallying behind this day when I initiated it in 2010. I had seen that some of our hardest working business folks were struggling to manage the onslaught of communications, maintain the balance of internal and external stakeholders, and deal with the emotional toll of responding to customers days, nights and weekends.

This year’s event is being spearheaded by Tim McDonald one of the community leads at the Huffington Post. He’s not alone. There are thousands of community professionals rallying behind the cause, and top social business software and services companies who’ve created content in recognition of it. Tim also created a website, Community Manager Appreciation Day, dedicated to this important need. While there’s already plenty being discussed about the virtues, skills and future of this role, I want to focus on its future, which is this year’s theme.

The social business space is maturing. We’re seeing social integrate into CRM, Marketing Automation and, for better or for worse, extend into multiple departments within companies. For the most part, social media has had its biggest impact in communications roles in Marketing, Corporate Communications and in Customer Care.

Now, in the next phase of sharing, we’re seeing people share cars, homes, products, time, space, and money. This is what we call the Collaborative Economy. Just as community managers honed their skills for online communications, they’ll now need to adjust their skills to the physical world. In this next phase, people are creating physical products (maker movement), then sharing them (sharing economy). This, yet again, shifts more power to the crowd, which means we’ll need new roles in order to meaningfully engage.

The theme for this year is the “Evolution of the Community Manager.” While the duties of the CM aren’t fully clear in this next phase, we should expect that they will play a key leading role as large companies gravitate toward the Collaborative Economy. Here are some potential roles they might have:

  • They may identify people who make and share goods through online collaborative websites and tap them as new influencers.
  • They may find the top sharing communities in their market, and become a participant.
  • They may help their own companies adopt sharing strategies by introducing internal leaders to the concept of turning products into services, like BMW has done with its Drive Now program.
  • They may help companies turn online communities into marketplaces where customers can resell, fix and improve existing products.
  • They may help companies tap crowd funding so the crowd could be more involved in the development of the next generation of products.

These are just some of the future skills and roles that Community Managers will evolve into as social moves into the physical world. In any case, please join me in celebrating some of the world’s top community professionals that are interacting with us on a daily basis.  Hats off to you, Community Professionals!