Posted by: Andrew Hemingway | November 18, 2010

Help for the CIO Managing Online Community Managers

I know… the title of this piece will make many of my readers start with skepticism. But hang on…I trust you will find my thoughts on this helpful.

In many corporate settings today there is the growing need for multiple online community mangers. I realize that less then 20% of Fortune 500 companies have even 1 at this point but the early adopters is where things are happening. I am also seeing a very real change in the attitude of the C level towards online communities. I think this is due in part to great community managers doing an amazing job, but also the younger a C level exec is, the more they believe in social media to begin with. This is a trend that will not go away.

More than likely the CIO will be charged with the ultimate responsibility of the Community as a whole. This would encompass each and every sub community within the Brand or multiple brands. Down from that you will have many different structures but ultimately you will get to the position of Community manager, Twitter manager, Social media manager or something like this. All the titles really mean is that manage a sub community or neighborhood in the bigger brand community.

In this post I want to address a growing problem for CIOs, and Community mangers. There seems to be a great gulf between the two positions in the idea of what a community manger does and what their objective should be. The CIO is pressured by the CEO and the Board to deliver quantitative data on every aspect of his position proving a healthy ROI on every dollar spent. The Community manager wants to grow a strong healthy community regardless of the size.  Thus, we have a conflict.

The conflict is very very common. So how do you manage the managers to yield the results you want and grow a large community. The answer is simple, but not easy.

The CIO must understand the right numbers. Looking at just the number of followers or friends will not give the CIO an accurate picture of the community, or allow them to accurately evaluate the performance of the manager.

Here are some numbers that will proved the CIO with a better picture:
1. Number of Active members in last 7 days
2. Number of interactions with community manager
3. Number of members mentioning brand outside of community
4. Number of interactions between members

*There are of course other numbers to be looking at, but a report with these numbers listed on it will give you a much clearer picture of the effectiveness of your community manager and the overall health of your community. These are the areas that need the most attention and will yield to you and the board the ROI you need.

The Community Manager needs to give the right information to the CIO. It is really easy to duck this one as a community manager, to play on the ignorance of the CIO, and to hide behind propped up numbers and artificial reports.

They need to give them the data they need to do their jobs, and you need to educate them on what are the real factors of your performance. You also need to recognize the pressure they are under and try to accommodate their requests regardless of how the results paint your efforts.
Be ready to explain your actions and give case studies of how your way yields greater results than their way.
Give them numbers they cannot argue with, and you will win them over.
The relationship between CIO and Community Manager should not be a strained one, but so often it is. I hope that these very few simple tips will help.


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