Summary: The Community Roundtable has just issued the second edition of their report on the State of Community Management. It’s the result of thoughts, experiences and analysis from the most famous industry experts and the most skilled practitioners. This year’s issue shows that this field is becoming more mature, delivers a strategic vision as well as lots of practical advice.
Last year I wrote the community management bible was online. This year it comes back in a more mature edition as underlines a part of its title : “from exploration to execution”.
This is an essential document, that relies on 3 pillars :
- a maturity model that helps any organization to find its way along the adoption path
- a strategic vision of the purpose of community management and how it articulates with “real” business
- best practices to turn the vision into action
Compared to last year’s edition and, most of all, with many things we can ear and read, the first thing that can be noticed while reading the report is a more mature, business operations focused, most of all with the mention of three pillars (process, management, technology) and the need for applying community logics to business operations.
As a matter of fact it’s becoming more and more obvious that’s the vision according to which it’s all about making people converse within communities is dead : community management is about articulating specific levers ans tactics to meet business goals in a defined context. The coming of the “process” dimension in this context is not anecdotal at all and it’s becoming obvious that there is not one community management model but a lot of specific submodels depending on many factors.
In the end, it’s clear that it’s all about transforming business models, something that’s still not obvious for many people who still prefer to refer to an idealized world of conversations disconnected from reality and operations (to reassure themselves or reassure others ?).
But the authors acknowledge that some things have still be more precisely defined and explored. For instance, knowing whether community managers are operationally involved in the life of the community or if they are at a higher level, driving the system. It’s only a matter of wording but it’s still confusing for many people. One may also wonder if social business relies only on community management or if community management is only a part of a wider approach. A discussion that may be very “cultural” since the concept of community is very different depending on countries and culture.
That’s a point. Some will notice that the report relies on a north-american cultural influence and that the concept of community and its meaning for people is sometimes very different on both sides of the ocean. For some it’s a part of their culture, of their day to day lives, has deep rooting in the culture of their country while it’s only a vague word for others. As someone reminded me last week, in the US people who are neighbors often consider themselves as a community, act and self-organize as such while, here, a neighbor is only someone who lives close to you and a good neighbor is someone you never need to interact with. But the document does not fail into this trap, and takes enough hindsight to avoid the cultural bias and provide anyone with what’s needed to make progress.