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On Community Management: Current practice, possible futures
On Community Management: Current practice, possible futures Youmna Ovazza September 2011 Key points and illustrations from the eponymous article available on www.butter-cake.com
SummaryFor most businesses today, community management is only a cosmeticinnovation, in both reputation and practice. Appearing to be a new functionbecause the medium is new, it has reproduced the traditional organizationalmodel of the business, which offers each category of consumer a singlecentralized point of contact with the business.The potential development of the role is nevertheless rich in possibility,from the integration of different departments of the business to an ongoingrole as an intermediary between individual consumers and individualemployees.A business that recognizes the potential for the individuation of itsemployees in the process of internal community management opens theroyal road to true integration of “Web 2.0,” though inevitably this willrequire fundamental reorganization to obtain real benefits in customerloyalty and innovation.
The « relational bottleneck »:the traditional model of business organisation in its relation with its audiences
At the most basic level of business, thedirector/freelance is in direct contact with his client andother target audiences (suppliers, partners, customers,opinion formers etc.) Clients Opinion Partners leaders Director / Freelance Independent Suppliers Etc.
The relational bottleneck: the traditional model of business organisation in its relation to its customers THE CUSTOMERS THE BUSINESS In the background: Behind: Upfront: The rest of the The crowd of Upfront: Certain key anonymous anonymous Representative functions/Publi workforce consumers organisations X cly identifiable X personnel X X X X X X Associa- PR X X tions X XX X X Com X X X Lobbies Customer X X Relations X X X Support X X X Sales Unions … X X X … X X X X Personalised X X X Patterns of and X collective X individualised exchange and X patterns of influence exchange
The internet and Web 2.0 have disrupted this control of this relational bottleneck
Web 2.0 has disrupted this control of the organisational bottleneck THE CUSTOMERS THE BUSINESSThe crowd is no longer anonymous and Employees are has become visible. New kinds of no longer groupings emerge anonymous U Y Formal representation is Social overwhelmed B R T V networks A C Associa- PR X G tions Q S A W B Com C P Z Discussion Customer Lobbies D O Blogs Relations groups D G A Support J N E Sales Etc. … H Unions… M B F K E I C L E F Individual and D collective exchanges E become possible at any level
What is the role of the community manager in this newly reorganised world?
Community management today: new pathways in business relations THE CUSTOMERS THE BUSINESS U Y B Social R T V networks A C Associa- PR X G Communit Q SA tions y W B Manager Com C P ZDiscussio Customer D O Blogs Lobbies Relationsn groups D G A Support J N E Unions Sales Etc. … H … M B F K E I C L E F D E
Community management, as it has evolved, encompasses the traditional business functions of:Tasks PR Communi- Marketing Sales After-Sales Customer cations (Research/I Service Relations nnovation)Coordination of the brand’s presence on social X Xnetworks and community spaces (Facebook pages,Twitter accounts, YouTube/Dailymotion, Flickr,forums/discussion groups…)Editorial planning, content production, or Xcollection of internal content for repurposingResponding to incoming questions and/or referral X Xto the right people/correct internal serviceBrand monitoring and intervention on behalf of X Xthe brand at discussion sites not owned by thebrand: forums, comparison sites etc.Identification and coordination of a « community » Xof influencers and opinion leaders (journalists,bloggers, etc.)Pre-sales or coordination of sales (putting Xpromotions and direct sales online etc.)Coordination of projects of co-creation or Xinnovation with consumers www.butter-cake.com
How to « fix » this function, what are the potential options?
4 possible paths of development forcommunity management within the organisation of the business
Possible organisational developments Option 1:The community manager as an outpost of the business, as coordinator of relations with consumers and clients, liaising with different functional teams within the business and different audience groupings THE CUSTOMERS THE BUSINESS A C R PR Q W Com A The public: P Consumers, customers Community Customer Z Manager Relations and opinion leaders G M Support A D Sales … H K N
Possible organisational developments Option 2: The community manager integrated into a functional team which corresponds to the dominant function of the job THE CUSTOMERS THE BUSINESSA C R C M Q WThe public: A PConsumers, customers Zand opinion leaders G M A D H K N
Possible organisational developments Option 3: The community manager integrated into each functional team: As a relational extension of each function of the business THE CUSTOMERS THE BUSINESSA C R C M PR Q W C Com AThe public: M PConsumers, customers Z C Customerand opinion leaders M Relations G M A C D M Support H K N C Sales M …
Possible organisational developments Option 4:The community manager as an intermediary between individual consumers and individual employees, i.e. as much an internal coordinator of experts as of the external « community » of consumers and opinion-formers. LES CONSOMMATEURS L’ENTREPRISE A C R RP Q W Com A The public: P Consumers, customers Z Community Manager and opinion leaders SAV G M A D CRC H K N Ventes …
ConclusionFor a majority of businesses, the title of community management is currently only acosmetic function, newly devised in response to the use of interactive digital media. Itsuse within the organization, or worse, its outsourcing, reflects a reproduction of thetraditional organizational model of a "relational bottleneck:" but now faced by the newgroupings of consumers made possible by the social networks and forums of the web.The rich possibilities created by web 2.0 will only be truly exploited by businesses whenthey are fully integrated into the structure of the business, as a factor which requiresexisting functioning and attribution to be reconsidered, rather than as a foreign bodyimplanted by modern tools. The function will then be fully realized as communitymanagement per se, with respect to consumers—and also to employees—with majorbenefits for the business, in terms of quality of service and its resulting impact oncustomer loyalty, in terms of the quality of insights and the impact on the developmentof new business, and in terms of internal management and the satisfaction, motivationand loyalty of collaborators. 17