Bartender - Photo by sheilaz413

I participated in a webinar earlier today focused on building B-to-B communities. There was a question about how to manage a community, and Jeff Sandquist of Microsoft gave an answer that I really liked. He said that managing a community is like bartending. If you’re a good bartender, you should be a good community manager.

Here are some thoughts on why:

  • - Both need to know how to engage people that are lonely
  • - Both need to know when to step back and just listen
  • – Both need to know when to send someone home/away that is disruptive and harmful to the experience of others
  • – Both need to know when and how to restore order and calm disputes
  • - Both need to be approachable and welcoming
  • - Both need to work at making people want to come back again and again
  • - Both need to clean up after others
  • - Both need to know what “the regulars” want/like the most

Can you think of any other competencies that good bartenders share with good community managers?

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I thought this was an excellent quote by Yihong Ding, found in this RWW post about the value of Community Managers:

“As we know, most of the Web 2.0 companies are built upon user generated content. Philosophically, User Generated Content is embodied human mind. This embodied mind is generally the fundamental asset for the company. Maintaining a proper community so that users may embody their mind with high quality is thus a central issue for the growth of the company. The duty of community managers is to supervise and maintain the high-quality production of the fundamental mind asset used by the company. Therefore, I would say that community manager is a critical job title for most of the Web 2.0 companies.”

This holds true for any company, not just Web 2.0 companies.

Every company today needs to recognize this.  While user generated content may be a core component of many Web 2.0 companies’ business models, the conversation and “content” provided by a company’s users/customers is of the utmost value to all businesses.

Therefore, ensuring that it is sought after, provoked, nurtured and communicated appropriately and applied correctly is of immense importance.

Still not satisfied?

I’ll give you one question: Who in YOUR company is responsible for listening and engaging your community?

If you have to think about it, you’re in trouble.  It’s time.

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