Some community managers will see chocolates on their desk when the roll into the office, other will get kinder-than usual instant messages throughout the day, and the lucky ones might even get taken to lunch.
However, I have long thought the thanking your online community manager or showing your appreciation by buying their coffee needs to be re-thought for two reasons.
In the same way that most employees would rather like their job better than get paid more, most of the community managers that I work with would rather get more help with their jobs than be taken to lunch. You have a unique opportunity to thank your online community manager in a way that can significantly help your business at the same time.
To put some action behind this idea, here are some things you can do to both recognize your outstanding community manager and help your organization.
You have been busy. When was the last time you bounced around your online community to see what is new? Start by logging in and checking on your customers and their activity in the community. Take note of what your customers and partners are asking in the discussions. Become familiar with new files and videos that have been uploaded.
You can also look at the new product feature requests. Analyze the most active parts of the community, in relation to less active topics. Taking a self-guided tour of your online customer or member community will give you an appreciation for your community manager and spark ideas for how you may be able to help them.
One of an online community manager's toughest jobs is advocating for the community inside the company and spreading the word about what is going on in the community to customers, employees, and partners.
On this Community Manager Appreciation Day, make a concerted effort to talk to your colleagues about the benefits that your company is seeing as a result of your private online community and the great job your community manager is doing to bring your social business strategy to fruition. You can also take some time to reinforce the value of the community to the customers and partners that you work most closely with.
Online community engagement revolves around exclusive content. This takes the form of documents, articles, discussion posts, emails, and multimedia. While online community managers are responsible for the content plan to ensure that there is a consistent stream of valuable content being added to the community, the community manager usually does not write the content. That is done by other employees, partners, and members of the community.
Community managers often have to use their clout to get people to commit to producing content and meet their content deliver deadlines. Assuming that you are already meeting the deadlines to which you have committed, you could show your appreciation for your online community manager by volunteering to write more content or produce a video. The willingness to assist with a major part of their job will likely come as a breath of fresh air to your community manager.
Online community managers are very close to your market. Often times they see problems, trends, or opportunities that the organization does not have the capacity to address. Set up a meeting with your online community manager to listen to what they are seeing as it pertains to your role in the company and find new ways to integrate the community with your piece of the business.
This could be an eye opening experience that will show your community manager how much they are valued, as well as result in actionable ideas for improving your division's business performance.
In many executives' minds, online community managers straddle the line between vital to the company and an outsider to the traditional order of things. This means that community managers need all the help and support they can get inside the organization. Talk to your community manager and find out about the tops things they need in order to be more successful in their jobs (and help the company).
It may be that they are a part-time community manager and need more non-community related tasks taken off their plate (because we all know that online community management demands full-time dedication). It could be that a specific part of the business it underutilizing the customer community and your community manager needs assistance bringing that department into the fold. Use your connections and influence to help them move toward making those changes.
Obviously, a simple thank you goes a long way with your colleagues. However, it is rare that you have an opportunity to express your gratitude and benefit an integral part of your business's success. Take a step back this Community Manager Appreciate Day and think along the lines of the suggestions above to engage your community manager in a way that will pay dividends for your organization and make their lives easier for months to come.