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Community Manager vs. Conversation Manager

April 6th, 2010 Comments

As the use of social technologies begins to climb the maturity curve, new skills (until now not widely understood) such as community & conversation management have begun to move to the forefront of discussions within businesses. Most are starting to realize that they have a missing job function in their team. But which job function: a Community Manager, a Social Media Manager, a Traffic Manager or a Conversation Manager.

Considering what Nestlé’s Facebook Fan Page went through a few days ago, it is becoming important for most brands to start having dedicated resources to manage their conversations. But businesses need to understand whether they need primarily a content-oriented person or a relationship-oriented person.

John Bell in a recent blog post described both functions of Community and Conversation Managers as follows:

Community Manager
So,  do they need a community Manager? Here’s how I see the main responsibilities of a community manager:

  1. Steward a community conversation amongst a group of people who have come together to interact together presumably over some shared affinity (they all love Dancing With The Stars TV show; they are all moms with grade school-age children; they drive the same car)
  2. Help keep order with a soft touch
  3. Remain responsible to the community first

Their job is really to nurture and often grow a community of people. Now, the affinity that brings them together may be the brand. That gives the community manager license to participate in the community but certainly not at the expense of the other community participants.

Conversation Manager
A Conversation Manager is a bit different especially as we think about how Twitter and Facebook work. Even with the threaded comments available now in the Facebook Wall posts, These are streams of utterances and brief conversations. More importantly, brands are hosting their own handles and pages which feel more personal and involved. A Conversation Manager’s responsibilities include:

  1. Offering fans and followers a steady stream of valuable content and experiences
  2. Responding to visitors who want to engage with the brand or need some help
  3. Offering a pov as a brand or subject matter expert

Steven Van Belleghem believes (so do we at 90:10 Group) that ‘traditional advertising no longer works. Advertisers need to change their day-to-day working methods. The gap between the contemporary consumer and the traditional advertiser is growing on a daily basis. This era is not the end of the advertising market, though it is the end of the advertiser!‘. He explains to us this change of trajectory from advertiser to Conversation Manager in his recently published book titled The Conversation Manager and following presentation.

What about the Social Media Manager?

Rachel Happe has taken a stab at articulating the primary responsibilities of both Social Media and Community Managers. Here is how she defines the responsibilities of the Social Media Manager:

Social Media Manager:

  • Content Creation  (Blogging/vlogging/podcasting) designed to spur conversation/viral sharing
  • Responding to conversations about the brand and the content
  • Ensuring input/feedback gets channeled to the appropriate internal functional group
  • Curating and promoting UGC
  • Managing tools – mostly social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) and blogs
  • Reporting/measurement

So what do you think? Do you agree that there is a difference in these three roles? and if so, do you agree with how they have differentiated them? If you happen to be a ‘community manager’ or a ‘conversation manager’ or a ’social media manager’ reading this post, please do share with us your views on your job function and the challenges you are facing every day :)

Other related articles:

Community management: The ‘essential’ capability of successful Enterprise 2.0 efforts

A Community Manager and a Social Media Manager Walk into a Bar…

Community Manager or the Art of Ambiguity: an introduction

Co-Creation is more than just a philosophy!

March 31st, 2010 Comments

Co-creation is a powerful trend in product development that has been around for quite some time. But as I have written in an earlier blog post (Brand 2.0: when crowdsourcing becomes a must…) co-creation has recently started to gain more traction with social media bringing communities together.

We Want You

Most companies have innovation as one of their top priorities. But many face challenges in innovation management – be it ability to co-create with customers, or utilizing employee talent. To address this challenge, enterprises have to embrace open innovation, co-creation and collaborative innovation.

John Windsor’s recent blog post about his friend who runs a business in the outdoor sports market is very relevant:

He described the paradigm shift we’re experiencing really well.

My friend says that he’s at a crossroads. He currently has his agency produce TV spots to run on targeted cable channels. All in, he’s spending a few hundred grand to reach a similar number of viewers.

It’s all good.

Until he starts looking at what his fans are doing on YouTube. People, who love his brand, are making their own spots by the hundreds. And, they’re popular. A half dozen of the videos have been viewed by over 1.5 million people.

At the end of the day, it comes down to math. It’s either creating TV spots and buying the media for them for a lot of money or getting 9,000,000 viewers at the cost of $0. The decision seems easier than it really is. While the cost of the 9,000,000 viewers is 0, my friend has lost some of the control he had over his brand when he used his agency. The trick is moving from a creation mindset of controlling the message and broadcasting it to a curation mindset of inspiring and guiding the people who are creating and sharing the digital videos.

While most companies understand the power of collaborative innovation, the means to achieve it is not always available. They need an alternative to current ad agencies and crowdsourcing platforms. At  90:10, we have been working on a whole series of products that offer companies the strategic direction, engagement, connectivity, relationship management and ROI.

90:10 Group Co-Creation ProcessThe following slidedeck gives you more details about our approach.

If you’re interested in the products themselves and how they can create value for your company – let me know.

cc

Related articles:

A definition of co-creation

What the heck is co-creation?