Hats Off to Community Managers

Today is Community Manager Appreciation Day, although I suspect few community managers will be given a holiday.

Truth be told, they should get a holiday given community managers are the workhorses of social media. While Facebook Pages, Twitter and Old Spice ads get all the attention, community managers are toiling away behind the scenes to make sure that tactical execution happens on a day in, day out basis.

It’s a job that isn’t that glamorous because it involves a lot of work, energy and focus. At the same time, social media is a 7/24 activity, which means community managers – or their teams – are on the clock all the time.

In many respects, community managers are like centers in a football game. While the quarterback, running backs and wide receivers get all the attention, the center controls the game. It’s the center that has to recognize different defensive strategies and then make sure his teammates are prepared. If an offense does well, center doesn’t receive any accolades, even though their efforts are crucial in the scheme of things.

Despite the hard work and not enough glory, being a community manager can be a fascinating gig. The most attractive part is community managers have multiple roles that involve content creation, customer service, business development, marketing and sales.

For many companies, community managers stand on the front lines, and can often become a face of the company. They’re the ones people start to associate with a brand. Maybe the best example is Frank Eliason, who provided Comcast with a public identity (no small task for a cable company) when he headed up social media engagement.

The biggest risk facing community manager is how engrossing the job can be. Social media never stops so the demands can be significant. As a result, burn-out is a real danger, particularly for people who are one-person operations or part of a small team.

It means companies need to be realistic about their social media activities and goals to be sure they are aligned with the resources put against them. Community managers are important but they’re not Superman or Wonder Woman.

So here’s to community managers (including Sysomos’ Sheldon Levine), and the important role they play within the social media ecosystem.