In the 1990s, “build it and they will come” was the mantra for the dot com boom when businesses were launching their own websites and merely praying traffic would arrive. However as businesses adapted by actively driving traffic using web advertising, they soon learned that you couldn’t simply buy your way to success.
Today, the same mantra is also short-hand for describing best practice around making sure your Enterprise Social Network (ESN) delivers value. Some ESN projects have not delivered the ROI promised by vendors because both the vendor and the customer have either been too laissez-faire about driving adoption or haven’t understood the need for a strategy to ensure success. Perhaps the most significant component of an ESN adoption strategy, and often the most overlooked driver of success, is the development of a strong Community Manager program.
Organisations need to partner with ESN vendors to activate activity on any newly deployed ESN. Training across the organisation, for instance, is an essential part of adoption, as well as senior executive sponsorship. We’ve written before about how to program effective change management around an Enterprise Social Network deployment and believe strongly in such a structure as the backbone to ESN success. However, in addition to training and executive sponsorship, the appointment of an individual or team that actually owns adoption success means nothing is left to chance.
The role of Community Manager is one of the fastest growing professions in this new world of Social Business Collaboration. Community Managers are critical to internal Social Networks as much as they are to Corporate Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. The task-set of a Community Manager is diverse, but revolves around four core functions:
- Developing and executing a compelling content strategy that inspires engagement and discussion from employees;
- Monitoring activity within the ESN, engaging with all employees, posting updates, sharing information and guiding people to make it all it can be;
- Working across the business to identify process owners that may be interested in migrating their workflows to the ESN, thereby driving productivity and business value; and
- Conducting ongoing data analysis to adapt the strategy and report success regularly back into the organisation to maintain momentum.
This post on Mashable is an excellent guide to what skills you should look for when appointing a Community Manager. Two qualities that jump off the page are Dedication and Passion and this relates to probably the most important characteristic of a Community Manager: self-motivation.
Commensurate with much of modern HR practice, many think that just as with every other role, Community Managers are best kept honest by a series of KPI measurements. Community activity, process migration or overall traffic might be metrics most businesses would automatically use to keep a Community Manager accountable. However, just as these are good indicators to help inform adoption strategy, at Mumba we have seen that a good Community Manager will be mainly motivated by their own interest in engaging a fledgling community from inception and nurturing it through to a bustling hive of activity.
Community Managers get their kicks out of driving a thriving community - they are in it for the satisfaction they derive from creating and inspiring social richness. Too much of an emphasis on the KPIs and metrics will dilute and dull this passion and ultimately dent their dedication. Organisations can make the mistake of misunderstanding the motivation of a good Community Professional and will negatively impact the success of their ESN by doing so. Rather than focussing on designing a scorecard for this role, organisations should instead look to harness the passion, dedication and self-interest of these people and a thriving internal social community will follow.