Social Media Club hosted its second annual "Community Manager Day" yesterday, a time for celebrating those who have to work the front lines with consumers on behalf of their companies. For those living in a cave, a Community Manger is a person that, on behalf of their company, spends time curating, creating, listening and strategizing where, who, what, when and how to talk to people online. Think about that last statement for a second: they are responsible, sometimes without agency or internal staff support, for looking at every single conversation online that mentions their company and its products in order to ensure that what's being said is accurate and fair (in addition to many other things). On a daily basis these brave souls have to deal with disgruntled customers while balancing brand messaging, internal politics and procedures, legal, establishing credibility and having a personality - not to mention a life.
The down side to this equation is, well, pretty much everything. They're the hero to those consumers they can help, an online celebrity to their peers at industry conferences, and the goat to those customers they can't respond to within minutes because they made the callus decision to take a shower today. They plan content calendars for a brand's Facebook page, only to have it hijacked by coupon trolls hunting for the latest bargain, a fiery customer complaint or any number of things that happen outside of their purview but always end up in their lap.
These are the folks up late, rise early, respond to a company's constituents at all hours of the night and have to put up with a lot of internal political and budgetary tug o' war to get simple things done, like agree to spend money on a monitoring solution. Sure the job can be exciting and the highs can be high, but it's not an easy job by any means and the lows can be low. Insomnia, acid reflux and stress are all part of the job if you let it get to you. One former community manager I know actually landed in the hospital with a bleeding ulcer. The web is a stressful place, where anonymous (and sometimes not so anonymous) cowards can hurl personal insults and put downs and one-sided, bull-headed arguments without recourse. Community Managers also get to work with those that love the brand, so it's not all bad. They get to play with the latest technology, gadgets, web 2.0 tools and network with some pretty cool people in Austin. That being said, there's a constant trade off of positives and negatives.
If you're a marketer working with a Community Manager or an agency that has Community Managers internally, I highly recommend you stop by and say "thank you for everything you do" on a regular basis. And don't ask for a coupon.