I stumbled across Dawn Fisher’s blog posts on gigaom.com this week as I’m researching online community management. Since joining the CA Clarity Global User Community and later being elected Communications Officer, I’ve been very interested in pursuing online community and social media driven opportunities. In a short amount of time I’ve seen companies who really understand the value of online communities and other companies that don’t. I know success must be measured to some capacity but I believe a communities success isn’t always tangible.
The best community managers are the ones with several years of experience under their belt and the scars to prove that they’ve been around for long enough to have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t, but we all have to start somewhere. Community management isn’t one of those traditional careers where you get a degree and start work in your chosen field. Most good community managers have a diverse background with good communication skills, organization or project management background, and some specialized experience and a passion for the type of community being managed (hardcore gamers managing gaming communities; people with technical backgrounds managing developer communities, etc.) In fact, many of us transitioned into online community roles out of other related careers.
Lucky for me she says, we all have to start somewhere, and I think I’ve passed a starting point but I need to jump into the trenches and gain some quality first hand experience. My next step is to peruse Idealist.org and possibly reach out to a few local contacts and volunteer my services for online community management. I do love technology and am inspired by service management, portfolio management, cloud computing, collaboration, and the gaming industry. Maybe I’ll get lucky and can gain some experience in one of those areas. I feel very fortunate to be in my current role, I love solving problems, I love strategy, integration, and continually learning new things. Above all though, if I have one life to life, I need to ensure I can provide what my family needs but at the same time, I have to be passionate in what I’m doing. Researching this somewhat new and innovative role has really inspired me to go further.
Does anyone have any pointers on how to measure community success? What about numbers, statistics, and analysis. What do you measure? As a community manager what do you present to upper management to inform them on your progress and status?
01/18/11 Update: My Idealist.org challenge on volunteering in order to gain experience in community management has taken a back seat for now but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to help yourself or help someone else!