33 things to know about those who make your online social spaces live


I wrote a lot about community management these last month for a simple reason: there’s so much confusion about a topic that’s said being strategic that heading for disaster and throwing the baby with the bathwater is a really actual risk. But by dint of thinking about it again and again, it seems to me that some guidelines are slowly emerging.

• That’s not because there are social medias in the workplace and that employees use them to do their work that the person in charge of managing their use is a community manager.

• A group of people doing things and interacting through social is not necessarily a community or a social network.

• A corporate social media strategy has to be driven at several levels which are often embodied by different people who have specific roles, responsabilities and objectives. These individual works has to be coordinated and articulated.

• Ca n’est pas parce qu’il y a échange entre des individus en utilisant les médias sociaux qu’on à affaire à des communautés. Ni à des réseaux sociaux d’ailleurs.

So, here’s a few things to know about all these players…

The community manager

• he’s a true manager, an experienced person who knows the company, its products, its culture and has also a deep understanding of collaboration tools (of any generation) and is legitimate to discuss with a lot of internal departments.

• he’s in charge of piloting at a systemic level a plan that aims at helping the organization to create value through social-media-based initiatives both internaly and externally (and cross-boundaries).

• He has to articulate the organization’s social and traditional activities, the in-the-flow and the above-the-flow in order to avoid overlapping, internal quarrels about time allocations and (human) resources hijacking.

• he’s in charge of governance and alignment : he has to provide a global framework and co-build, with managers, the processes that will ensure that employees’ activity on social medias (as well as partners’ and clients’) will be funneled to be turned into value and tangible benefits.

• He can’t be outsourced or externalized.

• He’s evaluated on mid-term (activity) and long term (value) criterias.

• he has to build a strategical plan that includes human and technical sides, budget and align it with the organization’s strategy.

• he has to build an internal expertise center in order to provide any unit, department, team with a customized value proposal and help them to implement it.

• he does not push social medias in the workplace but adapts a value and usage proposition that’s co-built with business people on these medias.

• he relies on an ecosystem of relays that is made of social media managers and managers.

The social media manager

• he’s the interface between the community manager and the groups, communities, social spaces. I should say “they are” because one social media manager is not enough in large businesses.

• he’s in charge of managing, piloting and sometimes enliven the social spaces (in fact nearly all these spaces….more details in the next points…)

• he also hepls manager who need some accompaniment to implement new practices within their team in the context of their management activities.

• he must not invade the manager’s area when the social group is a formal entity with known and shared objectives, with in-the-flow activities. He has no legitimacy try to get people’s attention and ask them to do such or such things instead of their manager. In one word : social media managers must not compete with managers to get a group/team’s attention.

• If needed, he can request help from the community manager or any manager at any level to face difficult issues.

• He can be externalized but, in this case, time will be needed to integrate him in order he can “live” the organization, understands its codes and values. He will never be left alone without a co-driving period.

• Il peut être “outsourcé” mais dans ce cas il faudra prendre garde à l’intégrer au mieux dans l’entreprise afin qu’il la “vive”, en comprenne les codes et les valeur. Et il ne sera jamais lancé dans le grand bain seul avant une période en “doubles commandes”.

• he reports to community managers and, when relevant, to the manager/department who requested his help to run a social space.

• he’s focused on member’s recruitement, communities enlivenment and turning social activities into business value outside of the social space (made conversations actionable).

• he’s mainly in charge of “open” communities (anyone can join, sometimes with approval).

• Il s’occupe en général de communautés “ouvertes” (n’importe qui peut les rejoindre, éventuellement en remplissant certains critères)

The manager who uses social media with his team

• he does not care about recruiting members because his social space is “organically” made (it’s a formal group that relies on the the organization’s formal structure) but about accelerating the way things are done within the group.

• he thinks “in the flow”

• he’s major concern is micro-coordination, problem solving and best practices formalization through day to day conversations

• he manages a closed social group, a given team. That does not prevent members from participating into open social groups.

• he relies, at least at the beginning, on defined usage scenarios (social routine) that makes nearly all interactions and contents actionable by default.

• he can request help from the community manager or a social media manager to train his team, to teach “good practices” and be himself coached to adapt his management behaviors. But no external person has the legitimacy to speak in front of the group and take leadership instead of him.

• unlike social media managers who often start from scratch and have to make usages and conversations emerge into groups that have to be built, he often starts by making his staff doing things they were already doings but with new tools and channels.

The member

• he can participate into one or the other kind of social groups. In one case because it’s his work, in the other because he’s interested, he feels like participating and can see some benefits he can take from his participation.

• his drivers are less complicated than we often think ; sense and alignment. Don’t even think of making them do anything that put him into dangers regarding to his evaluation, image, exposure.

• he needs to know the rules, the limits to his autonomy, the purpose of each group he’s in as well as what’s expected from him in terms of behaviors and actions.

• he needs to understand how it will make him more efficient today (regarding to things and tasks he knows) before being ready to make new things.

• he’s not dreaming of becoming a star in the organization.

• there is no link between his social practcies on the web and in the workplace. A “facebook addict” may protect himself in the organization while less social people on the web may find helpful to socialize at work.

Some more posts

How to understand and position enteprise 2.0 in the real enterprise

Community management Vs Socio-Collaborative management : how to make the right choice

What place for communities in collaboration ?

The conversational enterprise : opportunity or dead end ?

The community management bible is now online

Sometimes you need a community manager. Sometimes a manager is enough..

Community management in France : a rocket, an engine but no cockpit

NB : what we have to keep in mind is that we need to make all these players live and work togetger, each one having his goals and constraints. So it’s necessary to articulate their work, border their field. The way we call them does not matter, community manager can be used instead of social media manager and the highest position can be a “Social initiatives manager’ (I found the word this morning and I love it)…it does not matter. What matters is to understand and articulate these roles.