Considering that the whole ”field” called community management is relatively young, and didn’t exist until recently; including and positioning community managers into organizations brought some problems. Logical position of community manager would have to be in marketing or PR departments, but in reality, a lot of people realized that they don’t belong there.
This problem was best described by Thomas Baekdal in his article ”The Community Manager Disconnect”. When we are looking at a certain company, the problems that they have don’t develop in the marketing department. It is usually the other departments to blame for the problems that can arise in everyday business life.
With the fact that community manager ( along with customer support service) is in direct contact with the users of service/product, he is the one who has to ”take the shots” of angry customers. And if he is not able to directly communicate with the departments in which the problem occurred, then he cannot solve the problem, which makes customers dissatisfied and angry. The solution to this problem is a ”radical” one, and it is positioning community managers between the users and all relevant departments in the organization.
This way, the community manager can listen to the needs of customers and work on fulfilling those needs by collaborating with other departments; and react directly to solve the problems that the customers have.
This process is not easy (especially if community manager is outsourced and not working full-time in the company), and it takes understanding and support of all people involved in the process. People working in departments can usually have a certain degree of resistance, considering that they would need to include one more person in the communication canal that is going to trouble them with e-mails and calls. CEO has to explain the role of the community manager to everybody and convince them that this way of work is good, and that is going to help the company in the long run. If things are set up correctly ( mandatory mutual meeting of all heads of departments with the CEO and community manager!) there should be no problems, and after a while, everybody will get used to the community manager and consider him a part of the team.
What do you think? What are your experiences working as community managers and what problems did you have working for a company?