Online community roles: 3. the Member Services Manager

In my previous posts about the roles and tasks within an online community or community-based social network, I discussed the roles of the Community Editor and Community Facilitator. Both these roles, but particularly that of the Community Facilitator, are really a combination of roles, but it helps to categorise the tasks according to the three levels of the Cohesion Model for Sustainable Online Communities and Social Networks.  The first two of these levels, the Public and the Community levels, have been dealt with (briefly!) in the previous posts.

The third level is the Private or Individual level. This is often the level at which you’ll find the “jam” – the motivation for an individual to join a community.  Although a community is a place for communication and sharing, and the value of a community may ultimately be at that collaborative level,  everyone’s an individual at the point of joining, so it has to be worthwhile for them. There must be something that every member can get out of the community, or why would they bother? There are any number of communities and networks that we can all belong to and we haven’t time for regular engagement in more than a few core communities and online forums.  So every community or network has to offer real value.

This where the Member Services Manager comes in. She makes sure that the members are properly catered for.

Some of the tasks of the Members Services Manager (direct or delegated) could be described as follows (there are many more!):

  • source special offers and member benefits
  • manage subscriptions
  • know the technology back to front
  • monitor and maintain technology (hopefully with an excellent technical team!)
  • monitor and maintain usability and accessibility
  • deal with support issues
  • provide help materials e.g., help texts, manuals, tutorial videos as appropriate
  • make sure that members feel and are made welcome (though it may be, e.g., the community facilitator or members themselves who do the actual welcoming)

As with the other two roles these are just some of the tasks that fall in this area.  For a small community such as for a sports club one person can take on most of the tasks with the support of the members, but if the community is professional, international or has more than a few dozen members, then invariably the jobs begin to expand if the community is to be a success.  We’ll look into these roles further  in future blog posts.

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