Ditch the Community Manager. Hire the Community Analyst

Chuck Hemann HeadshotToday's post is by Chuck Hemann, Director of Analytics at WCG, a global communications company with offices in San Francisco, New York, Austin, London, Washington and Chicago. Over the last seven years, he has provided strategic counsel to clients on a variety of topics including digital analytics, measurement, online reputation, social media, investor relations and crisis communications.


Ask people who only loosely pay attention to the social media echo chamber what their definition of “community management” is and you’re likely to receive several different versions. The most likely of which would include something about answering a customer’s complaint on Twitter. I’m not a community manager by any stretch of the imagination, but even I know that is a very narrow definition of what a community manager does. At a high level, they are your company’s first line of defense and often how a potential consumer knows about your company in the first place.

After you’ve asked that group of people for their definition of community management, ask them what their definition of “analytics” would be. Or, better yet, ask them to describe an “analyst.” You’ll probably get the same variation in responses, but you would likely be able to sum it up in two words: “data geek.” In the past that might have been seen as a pejorative label, but the explosion of social media has made those data geeks high-priced commodities. Social media has created so much data that brands and agencies alike are in a race to find people who can crunch numbers and create actionable insights.

You are probably wondering where I am going with this. Community manager and analyst probably both make sense to you. Chances are good you have one, if not both on your team already. The bigger questions, and really the crux of this post are:

1.    Are you bringing your community manager(s) and analyst(s) together?

OR, and even more important…

Are you looking to fill both roles with one person?

Lets discuss each of these individually.

Your community manager is likely on the front lines for your brand every day. He or she sees posts as they come in, routes them or responds appropriately and then catalogs them for eventual use in reporting. That’s the ideal scenario, right? Where does your analytics team come in? Are they involved in reporting? Do they do the listening and feed conversations to your community manager? Whatever the setup, are your analytics and community management teams talking to each other? There is a better than 50/50 shot, at least in my experience, that they are not. Why? You both have something of value to offer each other. Why not take advantage of that? At a minimum, you should be looking for ways to foster more collaborative work environments with these two people (or teams, if appropriate). The best-case scenario has you sitting and working in close proximity to expedite workflow and make your content smarter.

The second question posed above is really where I think social media needs to move. Even though I have made the first solution sound like an easy fix the reality is that working in teams is hard. We often have different goals, even though our goals should align with what the company is trying to achieve. Now, the right approach is finding a person who is comfortable with the numbers and able to be your company’s first line of defense in online communities. I realize this is a rare breed of person, but think about the efficiencies and value this person would lend to a brand or agency. A person like this would be able to gather data, crunch data, develop insights and create content all at a pace more in line with the pace at which social media moves. There’s a good chance you have hybrid people on your staff already, it’s a matter of deploying them in the right way. If you don’t have these hybrid people, start looking for them.

Companies need more people who know numbers, and they need people who know how to engage a community. Companies also need those two people (or teams) to work more closely together. I’m a believer in the saying that says “two heads are better than one,” but the blending of these two brains offers infinitely more value.

What do you think? Crazy concept?

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