Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Knowing When to say Goodbye to Community Management

There's a time and place for everything...and sometimes you're in the right place at the wrong time. Like if you're a community manager in all but a handful of companies today. Community management is the "it" job right now--it sounds so hip and glamorous and like a great career move. After all, isn't the future of business social--so what better way to poise yourself than as the quintessential social business practitioner: the community manager?

But as many are finding out the hard way, community management may not be all it's cracked up to be. Many--if not most--companies are not culturally ready for social business--which means that if you manage to get a job as a community manager, you may well be getting into a situation where not only are there job-related stresses like dealing with constant customer complaints, but you'll probably also have to deal with organizational culture issues as well, such as the C-suite having no idea what you're actually doing and being only vaguely confident that there's an actual need for your job. You may feel like a one-armed paper hanger, tasked with more jobs than one person can reasonably handle: communications, customer service, content creation and curation, web development, data analysis, systems management....the list can and does go on and on for many community managers.

Not to be all Debbie Downer...there are plenty of community managers out there who are blissfully happy with their jobs. Two articles I've come across recently, though, make me think about the ones who aren't happy:

  • When Choosing a Job, Culture Matters--I think this is especially true for community manager jobs. Culture is absolutely everything when it comes to whether a community manager job will be a dream job or a nightmare.   
  • The Art of Letting Go--You've worked so hard to score that community manager job...leaving is unthinkable. But for some--actually, probably many--community managers, I'll bet that a point will come when they decide to just let go and explore other career options. Are you working 24/7 and encountering cultural resistance inside your organization--AND taking a beating from community members on top of it all? At what point do you just decide enough is enough and let go? And do you let go entirely and switch careers, or seek out possibly more of the same in a different organization? 
Update: I just wanted to clarify that this is not a post about me leaving MY community management job! Is it frustrating at times and are there days I contemplate totally switching gears? Absolutely. But is that day actually here? Nope....for me, it's not....but I'm willing to bet cash money that for every community manager who's sticking it out for now or even for the long-haul, there are others who are either in the process of transitioning or thinking damn hard about it. Feel free to leave an anonymous comment if you're at the end of your community management rope--I usually don't allow anonymous posts because I find they encourage trolling, but in this case, I and others reading the post would be interested in hearing your take and of course we understand if you need to be anonymous in this instance.

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