MARIA OGNEVA'S BLOG
Those of you who know me, know that I’ve been focusing on community management. Why community management? It’s an amazing field, albeit fairly nascent, for which I have a lot of passion, and which I think is well positioned for an exploding growth trajectory. Daniel Pink in his book “A Whole New Mind” corroborates Thomas Friedman‘s notion of job fungibility – anything that’s not high-touch, experiential, or based on humanness and empathy (taking huge liberties in paraphrasing here), is going to be either automated or shipped off to China / India. I think community management is the future breed of of this high-touch human empathy, adapted to the age of social web. Community management, and social media in general, takes us back to the human tenets that are as old as humanity: community, relationships, trust, reputation. Social media, in some ways, strips you down to the core of who you are, back to your humanness. A little while ago, we hid behind email, chatrooms, anonymous avatars, and each man was an island. Now we are an archipelago. Now we come to each other as we are, asking for and giving acceptance, our lives and humanness exposed, celebrating community, openness, communication and ideas.
Why have I chosen community management as a profession? Because I love people, I love connecting with and helping people, have always been an “open book” (which is why the new social and very public means of communication don’t daunt me), and the times in my career when I was the happiest was when I could help a client, resolve conflict, and put my heart and soul into that communication. I also spend my day buried in my laptop, reading blogs, blogging, discovering new tools, chatting, exchanging ideas. I love the space, and I want to keep learning and apply what I’m learning to my clients’ and employer’s goals of engaging, growing and nurturing communities. Although forums have been around longer than I’ve been alive, and online community moderation is nothing new, the community manager of today is so much more: in addition to internal community management on your site, you are using social tools, going to events, monitoring online chatter, participating in discussions on external communities, reaching out to other communities, bloggers and partners to build programs together, and the list goes on. As Rachel Happe puts it so eloquently, “The Iceberg Effect of Community Management”, only a small percentage of what a CM does is actually seen externally. Sometimes it’s a thankless job, but for the people who love engagement, social media, being the voice of the brand, and really making a difference in an authentic way, this is the right job, and I think I’m the right person for this job. Martin Reed also does a great job of capturing what the job means and what key characteristics are needed for success.
So onwards and upwards! Fellow community managers: let’s make our customers’ experiences stellar, let’s tirelessly pioneer and evangelize. Fellow companies and brands: when hiring a community manager, work with that person to define the role, and remember that that person is there not just to get buy-in from external stakeholders, but also from internal ones. Without your support and orientation towards openness and customer focus, your CM won’t unleash the true power of the role. And if you are looking to hire someone who is passionate about social media and community, please consider me.