Day 4 was our final day in Austin. As I write this, we are on a plane back to DCA. I must say, I am happy to get back home to my city. I miss it. We've been reading stories of the flooding and Old Town and are anxious to see how bad it actually is. Fingers crossed.
I think I gained the most the Community Management panel, which happened to be the last one I attended. The panel was made up of various community managers with a variety of viewpoints. From the beginning, two of the managers said they were going to disagree with each other and they did! I loved it. What they showed is that there are several ways to determine success. One viewed success through pure statistical numbers and the other through impressions made.
A main point from the panel was, unlike what most companies are doing, your community managers should be a senior level person. Why? This person needs to understand your business plan, the goals, and how to generate new business. A person fresh out of college, or an intern, doesn't have this experience or knowhow to achieve this. At first, this idea kind of surprised me. As the panelist began to describe what they expect out of themselves as managers, I began to see the points at which a inexperienced person would be weak. Even worse, I started looking back at how weak I was as a manager when I first started. I had an MPA but schooling didn't teach me how to manage groups or the company's strategy.
The panel suffered somewhat from the audiences questions. The audience kept coming back to how do you develop a community. To which, one panelist shouted back "you have a database, use it". It was hysterical, but you had to be there. We had to go back to the community tells you when you have a community, you can't force it on them. I wish more people would continue to reiterate this point. You can't force the idea of community on people, it doesn't matter how much you try.
Lastly from the community panel, we heard more and more about organizations that just aren't ready to face the world that is here. Too many execs are trying to shutdown online communities that they feel shouldn't be out there or were created outside of their "walls". What these companies are missing is the community mindset. They should be embracing all communities and using great customer service principles to develop these customers.
We made it back home and everything survived the DC rains. We flew over Old Town and it looks like all the water is gone. The cats are excited we are back and Mr Darcy(one of our cats) has tried to tweet for me a few times tonight.
Thanks for joining us on our SXSW journey this year!