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The Value of Community Management


Elasticity Community Manager

It’s community manager appreciation day.  Or something like that — something the social media community made up to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done.  It’s a job not a lot of people understand or really value, but they should.

Let’s not rehash the standard points in too much depth.  You’ve probably read the blog post already.  We’ve been using a particular slide in our capabilities that succinctly captures what it is that community managers do on a daily basis.  It looks something like this:

Elasticity Community Managment

And though it looks like a lot of agency smoke and mirrors and us (literally) puffing out our chests (yes, we seem to be an overly healthy and rugged bunch of characters), it accurately depicts the balls that need to be juggled on a daily basis.  We DO do all of these things.

And yet, it’s rather tactical and doesn’t really hit home as to what we do when managing social media for our clients.  Here’s a better way of describing our social media practice:

We are presently managing more than $10,000,000 in assets for our clients in a high risk environment.

Every day.  24 hours a day.  365 days a year.

Obviously this will vary from agency to agency and I can only speak to what we manage. Further, it’s our job to grow that “portfolio”  much like any portfolio manager does for their clients in the financial services space.

Let me explain.

Because the assets that we manage are not stocks, bonds, IRAs, or anything like that.  We manage revenue producing units (RPUs).  We also manage non-RPUs and do everything we can to convert them to RPUs.  I know that sounds odd.  Social media is personal.  It’s a community.  It’s human.  Businesses can not treat people like assets on a balance sheet.  And it is human.  Subject to all the fickleness that comes with a roller-coaster relationship. (Although I do suspect that there will soon be balance sheet items in the future that account for social media communities.  Mark my prediction right here.)

But think of it this way.  Social media brings people into a human conversation/relationship with a brand.  There are plenty of studies that then kick in to show that people that interact with brands in social media have a higher likelihood of purchasing from that company.  And that people that have positive interactions with a brand in social media are more likely to be repeat customers of that brand.  Just Google it. I don’t have wi-fi on this flight so I’m not documenting my research here.  But it’s out there.  I promise.

Let’s take that one step further.  Companies value their customers.  Some have internal calculations of “lifetime value” of a customer.  Others literally pay “bounties” to affiliate sales partners based on their internal calculations of customer value.  Whatever the company, and whatever the method, just about every company places a value to a customer (new and repeat).  So from here, the math is simple.   Calculate your engaged audience and reach, determine your percentage of customers and non-customers, and place your companies value to them whether it’s a new customer, repeat customer or otherwise.  (And if you want, there is more research online that says a “like” is worth around $70.  If you “like” that math, run with it.)

But that will give you a dollar value.  And that, my friends, is an asset.  A revenue producing asset that any company values more than the other assets they list on their balance sheets today.  Do your desks produce revenue?  Does your inventory refresh itself everyday and tell other inventory not familiar with your brand that they should buy from you?  Probably not (unless you are selling talking rabbits).

But here’s the trick.  With one click, that asset base can disappear faster than the stock price of bank specializing in high-risk credit defaults.  And that’s where a good community manager earns their stripes (and their fees).  They don’t lose those assets.  They nurture them.  Engage them.  And encourage them to help grow the asset base further.  And that’s the real beauty of this.  No other asset can grow as fast in value as this unless you’re an IPO or cheating the system worse than Bernie Madoff.

But remember, social media is a high risk environment.  If you think wall street is a roller coaster, think again.  Any trader down in the pit would get nausea in their first 20 minutes of work if their stocks were trading in social media.  So here’s my question:  Would you trust a real 6 or 7 figure asset and give it to the intern to play around with in the most volatile market on earth?  Would you trust your agency?

I’m off to go petition the GAAP board….

(not khakis…. Generally Accepted Accounting Principals)

Geez…I need some wi-fi on this flight.

One Response to The Value of Community Management

  1. Pingback: The Value of Community Management | Elasticity | Community Manager

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