In order for an organization to be successful, it must have a customer base and a recognizable brand. Each employee in an organization has an impact on how customers relate to the organization and its brand, but no one has more influence over this than the community manager. The community manager is responsible for creating a voice for the organization that speaks to its current and potential customers and engages them. In a sense, the community manager must piece together a puzzle that connects the community and the organization on a deeper level than just buyer and seller.
In order to put this puzzle together, the community manager must fulfill its roles both internally and externally. The easiest way to complete a puzzle is to start by building the boarder so that you have a solid foundation to build from. The foundation of the community manager’s puzzle consists of connecting the internal pieces.
Internally, the community manager is responsible for connecting the organizational puzzle pieces which consist of all employees under the organizational umbrella. The community manager must have an understanding of how each employee’s roles affect one another, as well as how they affect the brand (positively & negatively). Once the community manager understands this, they can work with each employee and department to help them learn how they can use social media channels to engage and connect with their target markets. Once the foundation is connected, the community manager can work on connecting it to the community, or the external pieces.
To connect the external pieces of the puzzle, the community manager should focus on the needs of the community rather than those of the organization. The needs of the community can be identified by monitoring and mediating online chatter about the brand, as well as “hot topics” in the community that the brand can relate to. As this information is gathered, the community manager can post content that will create a bridge between the community’s needs and the brand’s ability to satisfy them.
As the community gets engaged in the brand, the community manager can begin connecting the internal and external puzzle pieces by continuing to monitor and mediate online chatter about the brand. Any chatter can be responded to or referred to individuals within the organization in order to ensure it is handled in a way that enhances the community’s experience with the brand. To ensure the puzzle stays connected, each interaction between the internal and external pieces should focus on increasing awareness, value, and preference for the brand.
An organization that I feel could benefit greatly from the presence of a community manager is the YMCA. The mission of the YMCA is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. Along with this mission, the YMCA’s vision is to be the leader in providing programs and services that enrich the quality of life for the communities they serve. The overall focus of the YMCA is improving quality of life on a community wide level, so what do they do to engage the community?
At the local YMCA, services are advertised primarily via Facebook and the YMCA’s webpage, but neither of these seems to get much attention from the majority of members. All key employees are involved in developing content to advertise programs and services for the community at the YMCA. I am not aware of any one staff whose primary focus is to find out what the community needs and wants through monitoring and mediating online chatter. A community manager could make sure the pieces of the puzzle are connected (as described above), and they could ensure YMCA programs and services align with what the community needs and wants. Right now, the YMCA seems to be doing a great job responding to community comments and inquiries on its Facebook page, but having one staff focus on this and responding and/or relaying these messages on can make sure that topics of online chatter are the focus points of program development.