YOU are a community manager

YOU are a community manager

Yes, you.

Ok, ok , ok…. *maybe* you aren’t, but I have a feeling that you probably are even if you don’t think so. Hang in here with me for a bit as I explain why I’m nearly certain you actually *are* a community manager.

It isn’t JUST you, of course; we are all community managers if we’re playing in social spaces. What I am specifically referring to is the idea that we each own responsibility for the content we post in social spaces, and in turn we own responsibility for the comments generated by (and added to) those posts. As active members in social networks, we create our own ad hoc communities every time we post content, be it a status updated about what we had for lunch or a longer missive on a facet of today’s society. In each case, we own the responsibility of managing these ad hoc communities just like a ‘formal’ community manager would. Likewise, when we comment on other’s posts, we are engaging as a member of their  community and have the responsibility to act accordingly.

The example is clear: If you make a post to Facebook or any other social site, you own that ad hoc community generated by the comments. Likewise, if you comment on someone else’s post, you own responsibility to add value to the conversation and respect their ad hoc community as well.

With today’s accelerated shift to social platforms, the role of community manager is increasingly important but the definition needs to be expanded to include not only the formalized and structured communities, but also the unstructured, ad hoc, fluid communities. We are all community managers to some extent now, and need to manage not only our own posts, but the threads of conversation which they generate.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time on any of my social channels you’ve likely heard me espouse the brilliance of IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines. While I may be biased, I do believe that even if I weren’t an IBMer, I’d still be highlighting the SCG as a work of genius when it comes to corporate policy to guide employees in social business. But it goes even beyond that… these are wonderful guidelines beyond the immediate intended audience of IBMers… (I’ve cherry picked the ones which are really universal):

  • Be who you are.
  • Be thoughtful about how you present yourself in online social networks.
  • Respect copyright and fair use laws.
  • Respect your audience and your coworkers.
  • Add value.
  • Don’t pick fights.
  • Be the first to respond to your own mistakes.
  • Adopt a warm, open and approachable tone.
  • Use your best judgment.

Aren’t those genius in their simplicity?

As we look with new eyes on our own social communities, we can all benefit from the simple guidance put forth above, as these bits are relevant as universal truths to social interaction. Now that we can recognize our own responsibilities for the communities we’ve built around us, we need now (more than ever) the tools to help guide us through some of those inevitable missteps we will make (or have made) along the way.

This is the new universal truth. Gone are the early days of the internet where we were just participants in one huge community. Now we are all individually responsible for managing our spaces and ensuring our formal and ad hoc communities are adding value to the spaces. As we join in these new and upcoming realms of conversation, we all need to recognize the responsibilities we have and gauge whether or not we are ready to take on that extra burden that comes with participating in social discussions.

If you are posting content to any social channel, you are already managing your communities, whether you realize it or not. It is upon us as individual contributors to ensure we are bringing value to and taking ownership of the spaces in which we play. Our successes depend upon it.


(Orignally posted May 18th, 2012 at Notes from Rational Support)