• Before the phrase Social Business was coined
• When your Twitter stream was manageable and you were able to really connect with others there
• When social networking was still emergent
• Before the word community became a buzz word with too few understanding its meaning and using it correctly.
Back then Jim Storer and Rachel Happe felt the business world changing. People were doing business more with input from others. They were building relationships with their employees, customers, and partners and asking them to help make their companies better. And these constituencies responded! Today the need for community and community management in business seems obvious. But it did not seem as obvious 3 years ago. We asked some of TheCR Network members who have been with us from the very beginning about the changes they have seen in the last 3 years:
The role of community manager itself is the same in terms of what’s needed to run a successful community, what has changed is people’s understanding of it. Companies are realizing the need for strategy and an understanding of business when building a successful community. It also means that companies understand the value of community within their organization and for their customers. As social business and community evolve to be more mainstream, the internal sales pitch has changed. The conversation is starting to be less about what these important business areas are and more about how to successfully prepare and execute.
Heather Strout of Social Dymamx
Community Management is becoming a lot better understood and adopted at the corporate level. Specifically in what value social provides. People are starting to figure out how to create and measure value via social mechanisms. Before and even now in many areas, senior leaders would be worried about not doing social, so would throw some money at it. Great you’ve hired your first community manager. But without a clear path to ROI, asking for more funds to grow the social program can be very difficult. I find there are a lot more proven processes and practices that show actual results. What’s even better some of these practices are being integrated back into the core processes. At SAP, Marketing use to love sending ads out and getting people to click on them and count how many people clicked and converted (Push-marketing). Now, when I talk to Marketing they tell me that customers don’t like annoying ads. Even further SAP marketing has adopted a Pull-marketing approach at the core of what we do. Pull-marketing in this context means that SAP get customers, partners and just people to talk to each other and tell great stories and share great experiences about SAP, ultimately driving people back to SAP. So maybe not everyone at SAP knows how to fully take advantage of social but we are starting to see some serious inroads where it matters most.
Kuhan Milroy of SAP
There is much more of a focus on being process and metrics-driven. 3 years ago at a large/enterprise level company, there may have been 1 person or a very small team that handled community management strategy and execution duties. Now it seems that more companies are either integrating community management into customer service departments or
building full community teams to more efficiently manage things.
Jason Peck of Living Social
It seems like community management has become the new “it” job, especially among start-ups. It also feels like there is a big land-grab for who “owns” community management–is it marketing, IT, customer service, etc, and also for who owns expertise about it.
The biggest difference for Nigel Fortlage of GHY is that 3 years ago when he joined TheCR Network his company wasn’t yet doing social/community but they have since launched as they had help figuring it out with fellow TheCR Network members. And we know he is not alone in his experience as we have seen the great growth in those working in community and community management these last 3 years.
What changes have you seen in community management over these last 3 years?
TheCR Network is a membership network that provides strategic, tactical and professional development programming for community and social business leaders. The network enables members to connect and form lasting relationships with experts and peers as well as get access to vetted content.