iPhone Version

Here’s a short clip of Second Life‘s Director of Enterprise Business Systems, Chris Collins, commenting on the importance of building communities online.

Recently, someone asked me my thoughts on what the role of a Community Manager. should. It’s a question I’ve heard seen put to other people before, but one I’d never had much cause to give any thought myself.

Well, I chatted with my roommate about it, and he thought that a Community Manager sounded like being a punching bag: (1) the users demand certain features, (2) you pass that on to the developers who then tell you that they’re already two months behind on the last scheduled build and it’ll just have to wait, (3) meanwhile the users get impatient, so (4) you go back to the developers who tell you to stop bothering them with front-end details while they’re trying to keep the site running, but (5) you insist that without these features we won’t have enough active users to bother having a site for, and so on… Basically, to him it sounded like getting shit on from two sides at once.

Personally, I think it depends a lot on how much the community is tied into the product. If they’re a community that existed prior to the product, then fine: the product is an added value component that has its own development cycle that the users don’t sympathize with and can live without.

If, however, the community didn’t exist before the product, and actually formed around it, then IT’s priorities are pretty much going to be dictated by user-experience, and the Community Manager will be the bearer of good news rather than a messenger that gets summarily executed day after day after day…

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