The Joy of Community Management

by Dave Michels

Daddy, What’s a Community Manager?

Sounds like a great question from my kid to me, but actually, they have a better idea than I do. I wonder how I would explain it to my father. The site launched and we are off – the CIO Collaboration Network (say that three times fast) is a new community about collaboration solutions and technologies. My blog (you are here) evolved over time. Other sites where I contribute were already built-up before me. It is fascinating watching IDG accelerate this new site into maturity.

Aspects of this role I accurately expected:

  • Lots of posts. I’m posting here and other sites – and a lot over a the CIOCollaborationNetwork.
  • Propagation. I am maintaining three separate Tweet streams (@CIOCollab,  @DaveMichels, and @TalkingPointz). The tweeting itself is obviously easy, finding things to tweet takes some effort.
  • Commenting and conversations. This one I underestimated. I always  have an opinion to share, but it takes effort to read everything. I read everything.
  • Facebook and LinkedIn. We have a page at Facebook and a group at LinkedIn. I have not really figured out how to engage folks at these sites. I’ve started some conversations there, but I’m not fully clear on how to differentiate the content between these sites yet. Any tips?
What I didn’t expect:
  • The most frustrating thing so far is Constant Contact – for the newsletter. This is like the thorn in the lion’s claw, who would have thought it could be this hard. The formatting tool on this service is incredibly frustrating. The editor seems to be some diabolical experiment in human perseverance.
  • Little things. In my world, projects start and finish – first things first and second things never. But as a Community Manager, there are tons of little things. Lists, reports, site bugs, formatting, photos, etc. New ones come up every day. I think there are a lot more little things than I am even aware of , but my staff takes care of that (see below).
  • Collaboration: Collaboration is a slippery term. The UC guys are using it more and more (UC&C) and that’s ok as I get that perspective, but it is also used by the Enterprise 2.0 guys as code for social networking or the social enterprise. I think social is a part of it, it’s a part of everything especially since now email and blogs are considered social. These two areas are morphing together, but musicians and Governments also love to collaborate. Running web searches on the term has a poor signal to noise ratio.
  • Work/work balance is proving more difficult than I expected. A bit behind on some projects, still blogging at multiple sites, lots of stuff to manage.
Coming Up:

Video blogs and podcasts. I’m ok with podcasts, but video is a bit intimidating. I’ve been playing around with some new technologies to try to make this more comfortable. I think there is a huge market forming for consumer grade home video equipment – lighting, teleprompter, backgrounds, etc.

What I like Best: 

I enjoy UC&C, but I’ve become very vendor focused. TalkingPointz research and so much of the news coverage is centered around the vendors. What I’m loving the most is the customer perspective. I got a dose of that with the Innovation Showcase at Enterprise Connect – most of the judges were CIOs. There was one company in particular that I really liked. I thought they were very innovative, but one of the CIOs said he wouldn’t touch them – no way, no how. He saw they were immature and was looking at them from a support perspective. CIOs look at the whole solution. I’ve been there and get that, but it has become easy to forget. I so easily get caught-up in the features. This gig is providing some necessary balance.

My People:

It’s been an interesting experience. IDG is great  – it’s nice to have people again. My people are working on  things right now. They have been very supportive. They are living what we are talking about – I’ve never met any of them in person, they are scattered on both coasts, and yet everyone is largely on the same page and productive. Their conferencing technology is stuck in 1987, but unfortunately that’s reasonably common. Avaya, the site’s sponsor, has been mostly invisible to me, my interaction is primarily with IDG. Avaya has arranged some great content from Forrester, and some Avaya staff are now starting to blog on the site. The site’s messaging is about the issues and opportunities, not about the products.

Your Turn:

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