“The best community managers are like a good party host mixed with a fine restaurant host.” Author/blogger Chris Brogan

Community managers are sort of like tonsils. No one quite knows the role they play in your day to day health, but we know they’re important and we don’t rip them out at the first sign of a sore throat anymore. Ok, we’re having a little fun here (community managers are notoriously good humoured – fact). It’s also fact that if you Google “Community Manager” you will find a never ending number of definitions and descriptions for who they are and what they do.

Author Chris Brogan nailed it with his quote above. Party = personal. Restaurant = business. He breaks it down like this – a great party host is the glue that connects, the person who warmly welcomes their guests and makes sure they’re having an amazing time. When the party’s over, said host sends them safely off into the night with a smile and a wave. The restaurant host does much of the same, but since their guests are paying customers, they have a couple of added responsibilities. They must keep an eye on the kitchen to ensure valued guests are getting what they ordered, how they ordered it, and in a timely fashion. Plus, they have to be ready to roll up their sleeves and pitch in with the rest of the staff (waiters, bar staff, busboys) for the greater good of the restaurant. As Brogan says, community managers need “…both skill sets in equal space.”

At Social 2011, we are bringing some of the best community managers together to talk about what they do and how they do it in even greater depth. Rachel Happe, Principal & founder of The Community Roundtable; Jennifer Hughes, Social Listening Manager at Ant’s Eye View; D.J. Waldow, Director of Community, Blue Sky Factory; and Pierre Abraham, Social Media Producer with Beachbody will be digging into how the social web has helped create and define the role of community as an important part of connecting with customers and building business. They are also going to examine how the role of the community manager is evolving, and how you can change up a business strategy to include social media and community.

Whether your goal is retention, awareness, acquisition, or all three, one thing is for certain – your community manager/community team will be a vitally important piece of your social media strategy puzzle.

Do you have anything you would like to add? Do you agree that community managers are key? If not, tell us why. And let us know if you have any questions or comments for our crack team of panelists. As always, we value your feedback.

D.J Waldow muses on all things social at www.socialbutterflyguy.com. Rachel Happe’s thoughts on same can be found here www.thesocialorganization.com. And Jennifer Hughes writes about social media listening on the Ant’s Eye View web site.