Not Your Mother's Community Manager - Welcome 2nd Generation Community

We've moved from 1st Generation social media "You realize that social media marketing is still marketing right? ~ @brewborn" to 2nd Generation social media which is about building trust openness and community. That is from being "just another channel" to push out the same guff - social tools as a process - to being about engaging people in building a culture.

We've always had online community managers - or not?

Did I say community? Haven't we always had community and it has been around since the 1990s and Bulletin Boards and Sysops and SIGs as described in Wikipedia? So why would it change now?

The answer is simple. It's changed now because we did not have social tools then, except in the trivial sense, nor were they mainstream and integrated into business strategy, nor were they capable of social and cultural changes we can now achieve. With apologies to IBM, Extreme Networks, Zappos, Atlassian, DELL, EMC and other leaders most companies have simply applied their old siloed thinking to adoption of social tools as just another process to be given to the troops "to manage". 

And, leaders aside, most first generation community managers are operating in a blinkered operational support role - trained in "social media" and usually made a community manager because of their enthusiasm for what can be an interesting job for them hanging about in social. The Wikipedia description of an "Online Community Manager" pretty much spells this out. Bottom line - first generation community manager is an expense to be managed by sales or support.

Second generation community is your business

Where we are today is that community is your business - that's the second generation community.

That's a transformation and to be blunt your first generation community manager is not going to take you there. The second generation community is where you take passion and purpose and fully communicate it externally as a position and personality in order to attract and engage a community that is committed to your business.

Start breaking that last sentence down and you'll soon see that it is a big transformation. A fundamental transformation. Of course it is the transformation to social business, but let's put those words aside and just think about the "new" community. 

This is social technology used for people, not process.

This is about social collaboration, and social culture.

This about community for everyone, all employees in particular.

Social culture and second generation community go together

Second generation community is about having a great culture, built on positive behaviour and a mindset around abundance - mindset. This is the foundation of 2nd generation community, and I'm sorry but it just not going to come from the current set of community managers not the least because of their legacy.

Vala Afshar says "we empower employees at all levels—from our leadership team to our frontline employees—across all departments to provide the best customer service in the market. This is the secret sauce of successful customer-centric businesses—aligning all employees, regardless of title or role, to deliver exceptional customer service. Customer centricity is achievable only if there’s a deep culture of knowledge-sharing and collaboration across the company, a breakdown of organizational silos, and a companywide sense of responsibility for driving better customer relationships".

This type of community building extends from within to outside the enterprise by igniting passion and purpose, injecting it into your organisation's culture, and bringing it to the market in a strategic manner.

That requires community building from a strategic point of view, which will require 2nd Generation Community Managers with that viewpoint and the ability to take their organisations on that journey. They'll need to bring the community mind-set to the whole business, and to have all stakeholders come together around shared ideas, and to engage around common purpose and to build deeper relationships based on value received.

That's building community as the business.

Walter Adamson 

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