Not just non-profits

The Second Coming of the Online Community Manager:
[Via NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network –]

Flickr Photo: varnentFlickr Photo: varnent
Your job isn’t going to exist in a few years, and it ain’t the economy’s fault. Blame it on social media.

If you’re implementing social media smartly at your organization, you already know it raises more issues for nonprofits than it solves. Chief among them: who does it? If social media is about individuals conversing authentically with a community, who’s in charge of the conversation?

You’ll find most people responsible for social media in marketing departments. But shouldn’t program staff be involved, as well? How about leadership?

I’m fascinated by the ways social media is changing how organizations structure themselves — and in particular, how social media is redefining job titles in our sector. To whit: the second coming of the online community manager.

ReadWriteWeb has a new report out, “The Read Write Web Guide to Community Management“, that marks the ascension of the online community manager (2.0). They do a great job summarizing exactly why the role is so challenging:

The job is part customer service, part marketing, part public relations, and part web savvy. Some of the skills required are timeless and some are very new and unique to the web.

Yeah, what they said.

We used to organize our jobs by who we were talking at: people with problems (customer service), the population we want to engage (marketing), the media (pr). Now, we don’t have the luxury of simply talking AT people. Those same people are talking to us, and each other.

We all need someone to be part of that conversation.


It may be important for both non-profits and for-profits to have one person whose job entails servicing an online community. This person serves as a focal point both for the outside community and for the organization’s community.

But it can not only be that person who is involved. There need to be others helping create a vibrant community that models a human social network in the digital realm. It is very hard for just one person to be responsible for ALL online social interactions. In many cases, their personal voice becomes the voice of the group, which may not be a very useful thing for diverse organizations.

There need to at least be guest ‘speakers’ from all parts of the group, adding their own voice to help balance things out and provide a much richer ‘voice’ to the outside world. The online community manager must also evangelize the technology to those on the inside, getting them to participate. By doing so a much stronger community can be created.

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