Have you (virtually) hugged your Community Manager today?

Industry recognizes those individuals that bring people together and keep discussions fresh on the 2nd annual Community Manager Appreciation Day.

For the second consecutive year, the industry is recognizing Community Managers for the work they do and the environment for discussion and collaboration they create.

Establishing interesting conversations, fostering healthy discussions and stimulating ongoing participation from a diverse or unknown group in the virtual realm of online communities could represent quite the challenge for those tasked with the job. Yet the rewards can quickly outweigh any efforts made by Community Managers when the sense of collaboration, camaraderie and accomplishment of solving a problem or connecting peers takes over.

Learn more about CA Technologies communities here and watch the video embedded below.

Every fourth Monday of January represents Community Manager Appreciation Day when companies and community members recognize the work of those responsible for keeping online forums active and dynamic havens for members to discuss pressing product issues or industry topics. For many, online communities offer a resource to learn how to fix common problems with technology or provide a meeting place for like-minded peers to discuss a whole host of topics.

Mary Greening

Mary Greening is one of many Community Managers at CA Technologies tasked with keeping the conversation going in the company's online communities.

For Mary Greening, principal of customer programs at CA Technologies, managing communities for the company also means keeping customers satisfied and engaged with CA’s products and programs.

“I am responsible for keeping the conversation going and encouraging participation amongst the users of the forum. We have a lot of listeners in the communities and it is important to keep driving the conversation forward, to keep it interesting,” Greening says. “I also work to keep the group up-to-date on opportunities at the company for education, Webcasts and other events that might be educational and interesting to our customers and community members.”

The reasons behind fostering such communities go beyond keeping CA Technologies in the minds of its customers or providing a list of scheduled events, according to Greening. She explains the online communities also give customers the opportunity to network with others in similar positions and solve problems through discussions on their own.

“Studies have shown that people who solve problem on their own feel more satisfied. One reason is that they find others like themselves to work through issues with and another is they solve whatever problem they might have encountered without having to open a ticket or make a support call,” Greening says. “That drives customer satisfaction and enables good will for the company — not to mention the opportunity it affords the company to add features customers are discussing in the forums. The communities help drive product enhancements the customers want to see from CA Technologies. It’s a win-win situation.”

Yet managing an online community for a large software and services company isn’t without its challenges. For instance, the number of community members that actively participate is far less than the number of members in the group. Greening says those members “present but not participating” keep her job interesting as she tries to devise ways to prod participation. One tactic that seems to work is having company product managers weigh in on discussions because providing that hands-on expertise to the community seems to draw more members to participate.

“The thing I find most rewarding is watching someone ask a question and other users pile on to answer it. Watching people help others is very rewarding. I love to watch that happen,” Greening says. “We have had an enormous increase in participation since CA World 2010 when we announced the new platform, and there is more and more awareness from the company as more and more users log in to the system and join the communities.”

What value to you find in online communities? How would you like to see companies enhance the online communities they support? Please leave a comment here or share your thoughts with me directly via e-mail at Denise.Dubie@ca.com.

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Denise Dubie

About Denise Dubie

Denise Dubie (@DDubie) is Principal of Strategic Content in CA Technologies Thought Leadership Group. She is charged with creating content relevant to today’s most pressing technology and business trends for industry leaders and IT professionals. Prior to joining the company in 2010, Dubie spent 12 years of her career at Network World, an IDG company, covering the IT management industry and all of its players (including CA Technologies and its competitors) as well as high-tech careers, technology trends and vendors such as Cisco, HP, IBM and Microsoft. As Senior Editor at Network World, Dubie also authored the publication's twice-weekly Network and Systems Management Alert newsletter and contributed to the Web site's Microsoft Subnet blog. Before IDG, she served as Assistant Managing Editor at Application Development Trends, managing writers and the monthly publication's production process. Dubie started her professional journalism career as a Staff Writer/Reporter at The Transcript, a small daily paper in Western Massachusetts.
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