By Rachel Happe, Co-Founder of The Community Roundtable
2014 was a great year for community management generally and for The Community Roundtable specifically. Because of that, I spared you a year-end wrap up (you are welcome), but I do think it is worth taking the opportunity a new year presents to pause, reflect and set intentions for the new year amidst the whirlwind of other activities.
We have said for a long time that the future of all management is community management and 2014 was the year we started to see that transition begin to happen. We think 2015 will be the year it becomes more widely acknowledged.
Ironically, at the same time there has been a good deal of discussion about the end of the social media era, capped off by confirmation from Fred Wilson, a well known VC. However, what that means is that the end of social media adoption is over – growth is no longer primarily going to come from new users or a new social network that is significantly better than what is available today, which means investors are no longer as interested in the space. The prices of many social media stocks are slumping and I think this is reflective of this trend. In the early days, social networks could justify their value through growth. Now that social media adoption is fairly saturated, they are going to have to dig deeper and think about how the tools support more complex behavior change – and in so doing, generate value not possible through traditional channels.
Despite this – or maybe because of it – I think we are just entering the era of social media value creation where value is not achieved by adoption or growth, but by using the new tools effectively to create value in new ways. Given this dynamic, there is renewed and increased focus on the role of community management. It’s clear that the tools alone do not reliably produce value because their primarily emphasis to date has been on ease of adoption and use, not reinforcement of behavior change or rich collaboration.
We see this change in emphasis directly from our members and clients who are increasing the size of community teams, investing in internal community management consulting and creating internal community management centers of excellence as they start to realize that all of their management and leadership need to understand and use the principles of community management. It’s an exciting time for us and for community management, even if this trend has gone largely unnoticed by analysts and media because it does not generate the hype that technical innovation tends to – but it’s innovation nonetheless.
What this all means for The Community Roundtable is that we have evolved to not only serve individual community managers but also enable enterprises – through training assets, benchmarking, content and advisory services.
2014 was a great year, including:
- Growth and strategic attention for many of our clients’ community teams (we love seeing our members’ teams grow and succeed!).
- Expansion of TheCR Network membership to include Pegasystems, Schneider-Electric, Bit9, IEEE, DirectTV, Oracle, EY, Akamai, Lenovo, Skillsoft, Steelcase, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Baxter, MasterCard, Cox Automotive, and Applause among others.
- Publication of our 5th State of Community Management research, which identified objective measures of community management maturity developed in conjunction with TheCR Network members.
- Launch of Community Performance Benchmarking, a service which allows us to consistently assess and make recommendations to community teams regarding their progress and their opportunities.
- Announcement of our first TheCR Network Champions, a program that highlights experts who help us lead interest groups within TheCR Network.
- Delivery of internal and external community management training assets to partners, which include on demand videos and worksheets that enable participants to complete a community strategy and plan.
- Publication of the first report from a new research platform – the Community Management Salary Survey
It was a heck of a year and what encouraged us the most is the progress our members have made in their own programs – and the support they are getting from senior executives to extend their work.
Looking forward, we are excited to dig in and extend the way we collaborate with clients to demonstrate the value of community management. For us, 2015 includes:
- Kicking off with CMAD (Community Manager Appreciation Day… or as we like to refer to it, Community Management Advancement Day) in collaboration with Higher Logic with events in Boston, New York, San Francisco and Milwaukee and the launch of the Community Manager Handbook, which will profile some of our community management superheroes. Sign up here!
- The 2015 State of Community Management, which we will refine based on what we learned last year especially from our benchmarking projects where we were able to dig in and see where organizations were most in need of guidance so that community management processes result in reliable value creation.
- New training assets for advanced community management topics.
- Content to help executives understand the language of engagement and how they can get value out of participating in communities.
- Making our training assets available to individuals as well as to enterprise clients and partners.
- Enabling community management centers of excellence through our content, training assets and advisory services.
- The 2015 Community Manager Salary Survey. We learned a lot in the first year of this research, which we’ll incorporate into next year’s research while keeping some longitudinal data consistent so we can report on trends.
As it is every year, our focus will be on making our clients and members successful by continuing to demonstrate the value of community management generally and their value specifically.
I would love to hear your thoughts on community management – do you see things the same way I do or do you think community management is like social media and its heyday has passed?
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