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Is Community Management the future of marketing?

There’s a reason that I want to integrate a role as a community manager into my normal public relations duties. As more and more marketers profess the equal ground that social networks create between marketers and consumers, marketers have to redefine themselves.

Jeremiah Owyang answered his own question on how marketers could stay relevant in a recent post.

Question: Many consumers loathe marketers, now consumers can bypass marketers with social media tools, the power has shifted to the participants, how do marketers stay relevant?

Answer: Marketers must participate, or let consumers participate on their behalf, it’s a new world.

The best way to participate is to become what is today defined as a community manager.

Just like Larry Hryb became the face of Microsoft’s Xbox as Major Nelson and Frank O’Connor became a “Content Monkey” for Bungie, community managers have taken on the role of passing information to the community and letting the community do what they will.

This model works best with brands where a large fan base already exists on the Web. It’s not as strict and defined a communication format as traditional public relations, but it is one that more consumers and fans appreciate.

Community managers produce original content and writing for the community rather than issuing press releases directly to the press. They overcome a greater challenge in establishing a relationship of trust with the consumers since they are affiliated directly with the company they represent, but those marketers that pass on a consistently honest message to the consumer reap the reward of developing a brand community out of their marketing efforts.

By bypassing the media, niche brands can also see rewards. Even though they may be too small for industry journalists to take note, they can develop a cult following through their own blogging and community development.

This passive marketing of the future puts the community managers on equal ground with consumers and allows them to interact and participate in a meaningful way. It will be the most effective marketing communication method in the future, so it would benefit every PR practitioner to integrate community management into normal PR functions in order to stay relevant.

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