Internal charts are usually idealistic and irrelevant.
I don’t care where the community manager sits within the organization. We’ve worked with community managers from HR, innovation, marketing, PR, tech support, customer service, CEO’s office, fundraising, and more. It doesn’t matter nearly as much as you think.
I care whether the community manager can build internal communities to support the external community.
We had a revelation two years ago. The majority of successful communities we worked on were developed by a ragtag band of believers.
They came from throughout the organization.
Here is an example, at one organization it was Julia and Andrew from customer support, their friend Karen from the web team, two interns (one of whom literally didn’t have a defined role), and Sayid from legal. We gradually used their informal contacts to increase the support and steadily grow the internal systems to support the external community. By the time it appeared on the executive radar, most of the organization loved the idea.
This is how traditional community building is done. You identify potential supporters and gain their support. The big meetings, the pitch to the CEO, the mass messages explaining the benefits of the community, and the top-down commands to participate aren’t anywhere near as effective as building up your ragtag band of believers.
This is either terrific or terrible. It depends on your perspective.
For some, it removes their excuse for failure. Two people we interviewed last week complained their community failed because they didn’t have support. No, their community failed because they couldn’t get support.
For others, community building just became much easier. Skip the big wins. Find people that might be interested. Have a coffee with them and bring them round to your way of thinking.