Community Management Reflections

by Dave Michels

After completing an eight month community management role with IDG, I have some revised thoughts on the role. Despite the popularity of the term, many people do not understand what a Community Manager does.

Online communities are becoming prevalent. We work, shop, socialize, and entertain ourselves online. In the early 90s the web was pretty basic – static home pages and primitive ecommerce sites. Then came more personalization and customization. During the mid-2000s the big thing was personal branding which was followed by online interaction. Now we regularly interact online, and lots of communities naturally formed. Consider, eBay, Second Life, Amazon, or even facebook and Twitter. Each of these has a form of reputation, and interaction. Now, many brands are now establishing their own communities.

A community can be a powerful thing. Many customers put higher credence into the consumer reviews at Amazon than those from professional reviewers. The basic premise is like-minded people connect best. This type of forum and its associated interaction is new and it provides an opportunity for brands to connect with patrons. This is why many brands are committing to rich, deep online communities (expensive community managers). Corporate communities can be a great sounding board (invaluable, thus not easy or trivial to create).

Key roles and responsibilities of a community manager vary as each community has unique objectives, tools, members and other nuances. Though one consistent theme is to drive participation and membership.

We are beginning to implement more of these community management techniques at UCStrategies. Specifically, for the past month, I’ve been leading some changes and here’s the results:

  • Visits increased 176%
  • Unique Visitors increased 193%
  • Pageviews increased 136%

These changes were primarily behind the scenes, and largely related to the new “UCStrategies Staff” content, but we have lots more changes planned – including live blogging of events, more content, more Twitter interaction, more conversations with movers and shakers, an editorial calendar, and expanded coverage of channel specific news including promotions, big wins, and other events. We plan to ramp-up these changes over the next few months.

Additionally, the site is shifting to be more chanel related. We want more content regarding channel programs, UC channel news such as big wins – for the vendors, distributors, and VARs. We define the channel as key influencers, so this includes consultants too.

There’s going to be some huge changes in the UC channel in 2013, cloud, webRTC, likely consolidation, ongoing convergence of technologies, etc. We should have plenty to talk about.