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The role of a community manager is one that is becoming more strategic by the day in over all digital strategy.

While different brands may have different needs and approach, the impact and benefits of opening up discourse with your community/customers is such that everyone benefits, and hence the community manager is in high demand around the world.

Since today is Community Manager Appreciation Day (#CMAD) we are releasing the fourth and final installment in our series by JD Waldow on Online Communities, as well as getting some insights into the profession and the holiday created to celebrate it from none other than the day's creator, Jeremiah Owyang.

The Q&A that follows with Jeremiah Owyang (Partner at Altimeter Group and founder of CMAD) gives a bit of background about CMAD and also his thoughts on job responsibilities and how the role has changed over the years.

Why did you start Community Manager Appreciation Day?

This day is about celebrating the front line folks who're changing the face of business every day. Often an unthankful job, these folks are balancing the needs of customers, internal stakeholders, as customer representatives.

While often overlooked, Online Community Managers are the most powerful group of individuals on the internet, they represent the largest brands, with that said, they're often not recognized for the never ending job, few resources, and tense situations they must constantly manage.

This day, like sys admin day, or administrative assistants day, is to recognize these folks and the hard work they've done.

What makes a good community manager?

A great community manager is one that focuses on these four tenants:

  1. A community advocate, who focuses on helping customers above all others.
  2. Brand Evangelist, who is the primary online cheerleader for their employer.
  3. Savvy communicator who's responsible for writing, clever dialog, and getting the answers to customers and internal teams.
  4. Gathers community input to improve products, as an innovation conduit for improved experiences with products and services. There's more on this post.

What advice can you give businesses when it comes to responding to feedback and criticism they receive online?

Think of critics as an opportunity to convert them to advocates, not just brand detractors.

These individuals can help companies understand core problems to fix, and then improve the products and services. Successful companies have created advocacy programs that include numerous highly engaged customers who evangelize, innovate, and defend the brand --all as volunteers.

How has the role changed in the past year and how do you see it developing through 2013?

In the past few years, these roles have changed in scope. Initially the title was stemming from online communities that a company or brand would host, but now, it extends to all social networks.

My post tommorow will have more data on that, but also see this graph:

Are any two community manager roles the same, or do people in the industry need to be able to adapt to the nuances of different communities?

Each community will require a different set of skills and background, in fact we found that some job descriptions seeking to hire community managers require 2.5-3 years of related industry experience of the market the CM would serve.

Our own Matt Owen, Social Media Manager at Econsultancy, wears many hats, and community management is certainly one of them, so to celebrate his unique voice and boundless energy, we've also created a Vine that displays paintings of Matt that the staff here drew for points in our last Econsultancy quiz day.

And you thought we didn't appreciate him!

Ryan Sommer

Published 28 January, 2013 by Ryan Sommer

Ryan Sommer is web veteran and recovering expat who contributes to Econsultancy on startups, content marketing and new media. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter, or add him to your circles on Google+

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