The latest of the new “web professions”, the CM -or Community Manager- manages the presence of a brand on the internet. Is this a real job of the future for “digital natives”, or a scam?
Old profession, new context
Its mission is ultimately not the most recent: to ensure the communication of a company on a well-defined medium. With the explosion of the internet, the field is now brand new: it is a question of creating and monitoring the image of a brand on the web. With the new trends forcing companies to appear on social networks, the CM has more precisely the role of uniting communities of Internet users around the brand it defends. He is then “social media manager”.
So what does the Community Manager do?
A Community Manager works for a website, an advertiser or a company. The new communities of Internet users oblige him to build and animate exchanges, conversations on line. He also communicates the messages of the firm he represents, conveying its image and values. Finally, the CM directs the comments of its interlocutors to the services requested, and ensures a form of security (protection of personal data, moderation, etc.). From a practical point of view, he will create content (publish articles, photos, videos, etc.), offer promotions, organize contests, etc. He must know how to take into account the positioning of the brand, the codes of the targeted target by mastering all areas of sharing (social networks, blogs, forums).
Where did this new profession come from?
From the community strength that can come out of social networks, of course; from racing to referencing to be able to remain competitive, of course; and the strong virality that emerges from these same Facebook, Twitter, etc. But, more than managing this new “e-reputation”, a key concept is linked to all this: the buzz, even if not all brands are looking for it. The exceptional circulation of information on the internet therefore also leads CMs to ” create the buzz “, or to manage the “Bad buzz”(i.e. a buzz created involuntarily for negative reasons). Thus, Findus did not seek such a flood of parodies and mocking revivals of the horsemeat affair; while Numericable has been intentionally sexist with its latest “download as fast as your wife changes her mind” campaign . Two situations where the role of the Community Manager is particularly important.
A job with a future or a scam?
These different reasons make it a particularly fashionable job for “digital natives”, ie the new generation who grew up with the use of digital technology. But given the youth of the profession, it is hard to find Community Managers with more than 2 years of experience; and just as difficult to measure their results as their action is immaterial, and aimed at long-term objectives. Two questions then arise: Is this a sustainable profession? Do companies have a real interest in hiring a CM? Although this profession is not yet fully recognized, various studies lead to it: commercial management, commercial management, training in information-communication professions, training in online communication, and major schools of communication / marketing / PR and journalism . The criteria and skills are therefore still rather vague, even if several branches are beginning to stand out, in which a CM can specialize: e-commerce, social-media management, communication, advertising. The result is that there is no typical Community Manager profile (do you need an HR, a communication expert, a salesperson?), which is not at the service of the profession.
Finally, everyone can become a CM?
It is still a profession that is not very internalized and very fashionable among the younger generations, which tends to answer the question positively. While yes, many companies with an audience and / or customers on the net have an interest in having a CM in their rank. Today, Community management is essential to web marketing, itself essential to marketing in general, especially among SMEs. Only, not everyone can tackle it, under the pretext of mastering social networks and knowing the codes and trends of the communities. Experience and a “university” level of learning are recommended, given the many constraints. A CM directly represents the brand, and speaks directly to customers. While everything takes place in a few moments on the net and the reactions are all the more lively, the CM must act in an extremely reactive and at the same time thoughtful way. “Everything can be held against him” because he represents the opinion and integrity of the company that employs him. His responsibilities are therefore enormous, just as much as his work. Exchanges on the internet have no time or place, which forces our man to become omniscient and omnipresent.
Community management is still a young activity, not yet useful to everyone, and whose productivity is difficult to measure. But when we observe the virtual obligation for a company to have a presence (an identity for many, a breeding ground for others) on the internet, it is certain that it is a profession that can only develop. Unlike other “fixed” positions, the CM must constantly renew itself and prove its usefulness within the company, being a profession in constant evolution. It is by essence innovative and fluctuating because it depends on the self-development of the web and must perhaps be attached to other tasks to earn its letters of nobility and its independence.