The Community Management Conference is just days away, and it will be interesting to see what topics and themes are emerging in the community management space. From brand heavyweights like Google and Rogers, to rapidly growing names like Hootsuite, to individual pioneers in the community management space, it looks to be a good roster of speakers.
For those of you who aren’t really clear on what “Community Management” is, don’t worry, I was in the same boat as you before diving into the deep end! It’s a bit of a “fuzzy” concept, but deals primarily with who and how brands and other communities engage with individuals within those communities.
Community management most often deals with the online space. If you are a reader of sites or forums like Quora or Reddit, those sites are the community, and the moderators (paid or unpaid) are a type of community manager. If you’ve ever had an interaction with a brand online, a community manager may have been responsible for devising the tone, approach, and even language as part of maintaining a consistent brand while also engaging in a meaningful way with community members.
Here at Camaraderie, our awesome team of community managers (if I do say so myself) help to maintain the quality of Camaraderie’s…well, camaraderie! Our role as community managers is to make it as easy and comfortable as possible for the members of our community to use and enjoy the space, make new connections, and feel welcome in person (as we are a coworking space) but also online publicly in social media and in our private Yammer network.
To get more information, and the low-down on what the CM1 conference is all about, I spoke to Ron Tite. Ron is the CEO of the Tite Group, a content marketing firm and one of the sponsors of CM1, and he had a lot of exciting things to say about the conference and the future of community management.
To Mr. Tite, community management is a couple of different things. It’s the main distribution hub for great content, as well as being the “what, where, how” to present that content. And it is necessarily community oriented, leading with the most relevant information and content for a brand’s customer.
As well, he sees content managers as being in the trenches: they have the best insight into what people are talking about. Since customers are really driving change, even to the point of changing the way organizations are structured, the person who has the closest contact with the community naturally has the best idea of what the customer wants, what people are saying, and any problems as they arise.
He says that CM1 is important because right now people are coming into community management from very different directions, there is no education for it as a role, and there is also very little mentorship for it within organizations. As well, in organizations senior managers or VPs don’t have exposure to the community, so they don’t necessarily understand or appreciate the value of the role, or the insights that can come out of the role.
Mr. Tite wants to see the role become more sophisticated and become a career that people can actually aspire to, one which will have more oversight and control in the overall operation: “We need to have more conversation about [community management] and who is doing what- because the role is new, and we want to find good people to do it, we have to develop the role ourselves”.
He is looking forward to getting really unique insights from people like Keith McArthur, VP of Social Media for Rogers Communications, or from Gregg Tilson with Flight Centre Travel Group, which built the highest engagement Australian brand on Twitter. Or another example, speaking to Andrew Zimakas, the Chief Marketing Officer of Tangerine: “When do you get the chance to speak to someone who just led this huge transition of the company, and how they dealt with it?”
Another thing Mr. Tite is looking forward to is the increased understanding and different perspectives, “The “head nods” where people think to themselves ‘hey, I didn’t think of it this way’”.
He points to one of the main challenges for community management: “The role exists. Now what? How will we make it more important? How do we take the next steps?
“When everyone returns to their [organizations], they’re going to say – I’m going to play a more important and strategic role because of my insights and knowledge of the community. I want to be asked ‘what do you think about this’”
He says that in this highly connected environment, “If change will happen, it’s going to happen because the consumer wants it”. Community managers offer the opportunity to respond better and faster –“It’s about being appropriately responsive”.
With that introduction under my belt, I’m really looking forward to CM1. My questions going in will be how to relate a lot of the content to managing the physical community space, as well as the community space we have on Yammer and through other digital channels. I also want to know how to build on the community Skills Assessment that I did for the Camaraderie community, which is one of the tools we use here in our coworking space to help members get to know one another personally and professionally, and leverage that information to help build connections and relationships in the community.
With that in mind, I’m especially excited for three of the talks from the very extensive programme:
1. “The 10 Golden Rules of Engagement” by Clarke De Pastino, Vice President Engagement of Ipsos SMX:
What does engagement mean to the members in our coworking community and in our own businesses? I’m curious to see if there are any rules for “in person” engagement in a physical space that are different from those online.
2. “Tapping Into Your Community for Support” by Andrew Zimakas, Chief Marketing Officer of Tangerine:
This will be an interesting talk not only because it will give a bit of an insider look to what was such a huge transition for a Canadian business, but also because it should offer some pretty great information on how to use the capacity of the community to better weather change and challenges.
3. “Surprising and Delighting Your Community” by Mitchell Fawcett, Founder & Agency Director of Motive Communications
Everyone likes to be surprised and delighted in their interactions, right? I’m curious as to how this talk about customer service and social media can be translated into our space here at Camaraderie.
I’m looking forward to the event and to all the great speakers! If you’re curious about community management generally or in your own business, take a look at the program available here, follow the conversation on Twitter #CM1TO.
This is a guest blog post by Angela Bepple of Skilltree Toronto