Advancing community in 2020

Community Manager Appreciation Day was spearheaded by Jeremiah Owyang in 2010 to improve the visibility of community professionals working hard, usually behind the scenes.

Falling on the fourth Monday each January, CMAD has become a fixture in the community industry calendar, with in-person events and virtual hangouts connecting us globally in reflection and celebration of our peers.

But next year will be different, as Appreciation levels up to Community Manager Advancement Day on Monday Jan 27, 2020.

Trading appreciation for advancement

We asked Jeremiah about the move, and why it's happening now.

"It's been a decade of CMAD, so it's time to evolve," he says.

"This recommendation came to me from Rachel Happe of The Community Roundtable about a year ago, and it really stuck with me.

"Community Managers need to advance the conversation towards the business side of the house, and get to the leadership table.

Right now, many communities are relegated to "lower-cost customer care" but it's capable of so much more, including advocacy, product innovation, and customer engagement."

It's a dead-on read of where we're at globally.

Swarm 2019 focused on elevating community to the boardroom and unlocking its strategic, transformative capability. CMX Summit 2019 adopted a similar theme and both events focused on the capacity of community professionals as organisational and social change makers.

The Community Roundtable's 2019 State of Community Management report tracked the ascension of communities in value and potential, making the critical observation that:

"Community leaders are often still isolated from business decision-making and those involved in business operations often don’t understand communities. As communities become more integrated and influential this disconnect is creating ever greater risk."

And closer to home, the annual ACM survey similarly found that while community professionals and their programs are making waves, there is much more room for impact, particularly at senior levels.

We're exhausted by the same conversations and know it's time to move onward and upward. This work falls to us.

Self-care in the spotlight

One of the most popular workshops at Swarm 2019 was Jennifer Beckett's 'Self-care for community professionals'. Anyone working in the space knows how foundational wellbeing and resilience are to success, yet community professionals still face major challenges around burn-out and misaligned employer or client expectation around availability and performance.

It's fitting then that the theme of CMAD 2020 is self-care.

"We're all burned out", agrees Jeremiah.

"But more so community professionals, who are expected to be "always-on" and constantly dealing with grievances. They need to learn how to self-care, as this is a critical role as the face of the online company, who's expected to give community members an important impression. If the professional is not taking care of themselves, it's a lot harder to care for others in the community."

Jeremiah warns that if we don't commit to addressing this systematically, 2020 will see matters get worse.

"More burnouts will happen," he says.

"Political, environmental social woes are all surfacing online and infiltrating every community, which is causing more tension and stress."

Without self-care (spanning both wellbeing and resilience), we can't realise community management potential.

ACM will be marking Community Manager Advancement Day with a series of special events, accessible to all. If you'd like to host an event or get involved, get in touch!


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We acknowledge the Wadawurrung people of the Kulin nations, the Traditional Owners of the land on which ACM is convened and organised. We pay our respects to the local people and to their Elders: past, present and emerging. We have much to learn from first nations cultures.