2010: Community Management predictions

the crystal ball - large square
Image by mira d’oubliette via Flickr

As is traditional at this time of year, we’ve been looking back over 2009 and all the enormous leaps of innovation and learning that have happened in the social media space. For some of us old, creaking community managers that have been around longer than broadband, it’s slightly dizzying that the role of ‘community manager’ is creeping into the general lexicon. My mum suddenly understands what it is that I do!

So if 2009 has finally galvanised the concept that online community spaces need managers, is 2010 going to be the year when the role is formalised and ranked as highly as other CRM roles? Will the old broad term ‘community manager’ be split into various roles with tighter definitions and remits?

What will online communities look like in 2010? What will community managers be talking about? What legal changes are bubbling away? We asked some fantastic community managers for their 2010 predictions, and if their thinking comes true, 2010 is going to be a very exciting year.

Roles and responsibilities

Vincent Boon, Community Team Leader at Sony Computer Entertainment agrees thinks roles and responsibilities will become more targeted and defined: “The role itself will become less broad, with community managers trying to cover all the bases, but instead companies will employ different community managers, for their different areas of communication.”

Vincent suggests new roles will spring up around:

  • Social Media
  • Forum Specific
  • Creative Media 
  • Conflict Resolution 
  • Shaping Conversation/Interest 
  • Age group specific 

“Maybe my categories are incorrect, or you can think of many more, but with the role of Community Manager maturing, I believe the role itself will diversify into areas of expertise. Although whether this will happen in 2010 already, might just be wishful thinking.”

Wendy Christie from eModeration tweets: “Earlier involvement/consultation/hiring of CMs in new sites/products, maybe? I’m starting to see that, I think.”

She expands by email: “I think we’re starting to see a more widespread involvement of Community Managers at the early stages of project development. So rather than “we’re most of the way through developing the site which will involve some sort of interactivity – oh bugger, how do we manage that side of it?” we’re starting to see more cases of CMs identified from the beginning as vital members of the team.”

Community and moderation company, TemperoUK, agrees: “Trend = CM will take on a bigger customer service/CRM role”


Tempero’s founder, Dominic Sparkes says: “For social media management, 2010 is going to be a year of realising moderation is vital, sentiment tracking will prove ROI (hopefully!) and platform integration will be second nature.”

Ilana Fox, head of Social Media at ASOS says more retailers will be getting into social media. She tweets her prediction for “more personalisation on news and retail sites. Google will cause problems.

“Issues with UK sites launching international versions in terms of moderation and media law.”

Community in Enterprise and Research

Stuart Glendinning Hall points me to Dion Hinchcliffe: “I reckon that Dion Hinchcliff may be right in seeing the role of community manager becoming increasing important in Enterprise 2.0 projects in 2010. Particularly in markets which are already leading on E2.0, such as Germany and the US.”

Andy_buckley tweets that he sees a: “Blurring between panel and communities.” He expands, “as more later adopting clients think about having a community I think they will want both qual (community) & quant (panel).”

Community as a force

Ed Mitchell, Network and Community expert, sees: “Purposeful communities – active groups using collaborative tools to do stuff in their neighbourhoods – like the hyperlocal stuff, transition
towns etc.”


A favourite community manager of mine, Alison Michalk from Fairfax Digital predicts: “The rise of social media monitoring is going to have an impact. I’ve already seen reps start jumping in to respond to statements in my forums.

“I think ‘platform-neutral’ brand involvement is on the rise (clearly there are benefits towards this approach over attempting to build their own community) – and just how this impacts communities is yet to be seen… will we need ‘protected spaces’, how will the merging of people’s personal/professional roles impact the online space in years to come…”

My prediction

I agree with our experts here, 2010 will be the year of more roles, with distinct remits, and a more ‘conversational’ approach within all but the least enlightened organisations. I believe that a studious approach to community will deliver greater understanding of how to measure success and monitor effects, and I believe there are likely to be more community-based roles than real experience out there to fill them.

But at risk of sounding like a doomsayer, my real prediction for 2010 is one of caution. This last year has been great fun, community is (rightly) at the forefront of the best of the web, conversations and connections are starting to be taken seriously and proving their worth at enhancing so many other areas  of business.

Now it’s time community grew up.

All eyes are on us, and there are still grey areas to be ironed out. Every community manager, publishing, curating or editing content from users, needs to have a handle on all the relevant laws and liabilities.

Every community manager needs to understand the business aims of their organisation, and how community fits to them. To be a community manager within an organisation is not to be a renegade, it’s to be a diplomat.

For me, 2010 is going to be the year that we took ourselves more seriously, tooled up legally, and set clearer principles for moderation, and expectations from us and of us.

Agree? Disagree? We’d love to hear your predictions for 2010.