Community Management Enterprise Social MediaCompanies are spending significant amounts of time and money to build their enterprise social media strategies. If you’re reading this, you might be working for one of them. You might be hiring consultants, going to conferences and creating internal policies and councils. You might be approaching cautiously. Or maybe you’ve jumped in feet first.

But no matter what you do, your social media efforts will fail if you don’t have the right people to put them into practice.

Who are Community Managers?

For many companies, the people on the social media front lines are community managers. A job title that didn’t exist a few years ago, “community manager” applies to the people who respond to customers online, engage with influencers, manage groups and forums, and share with and learn from the extended networks of people who surround a brand and its activities.

It takes a unique set of skills and attributes to make a great community manager. Customer focus. Solid communication skills. Imagination. The ability to think clearly and act decisively. Compassion. Empathy. A sense of humor. A sense of adventure. A rebellious streak. Incurable “shiny object syndrome.” And a near-compulsive need to know what’s going on out there at all times. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever excused yourself from a family gathering to sneak a quick look at your smartphone.)

Some of the best community managers I’ve met have come from customer service backgrounds, others from PR and marketing and marketing communications and some from journalism. Some of those folks have found themselves at times feeling their skills were undervalued. When times are tough, departments like marcom are often one of the first targets for cuts. I’ve experienced that personally. Twice.

But with the speed of social media bringing an unprecedented immediacy to crisis response, customer communication, sales and marketing and brand stewardship, the folks with that eclectic combination of soft and hard skills are ideally qualified to bring value to companies of all sizes.

Spend all the money you want on advertising, on customer satisfaction surveys, on focus groups—your community managers are the people making your brand every day. They create your reputation anew with every interaction. And when things turn bleak, they have the power to turn hate into love. I’ve seen it happen, and that’s something I could never say about a press release or an annual report.

Community Manager Appreciation Day

Take the time today to thank the people who manage your company’s community, whatever community might mean for you. If you haven’t already, one day you will look back and wonder how you ever got along without them.

And on a personal note, since today is Community Manager Appreciation Day (#CMAD), I’d like to thank the community managers I work with—the finest team of online communicators I’ve ever met. I learned about Radian6 long before I came to work here not because of the platform, not because of the functionality, but because of the community team, the content they create and the way they represent the company online and in person. They embody what we call our “Radian6-ness” and share it with the world.

To the Radian6 Community Team: Thank you. We couldn’t do it without you.

Throughout today, Radian6 is supporting Community Manager Appreciation Day (#CMAD). Check back at this blog and on Twitter (@radian6) for more content around this day. Also, tweet to @radian6 why you think community managers rock! Don’t forget to use the #CMAD hashtag.