Should you hire a community manager?

About a year and a half ago, in addition to running Concept Hub, I also started working with eRollover as their Community Director. What I enjoy most about doing both jobs is the ability to get a 360-degree view of integrating social media into an organization. I have years of experience helping a variety of clients as a consultant, and with eRollover, I get the experience of working inside an organization.

A couple of weeks ago I had an epiphany. The companies who need community managers the most are typically larger companies that are faced with the challenge of changing human behavior internally. Smaller, more agile companies and especially start-ups can create a culture that embraces social media as part of everyone’s job. I suppose I came to this conclusion because of how quickly eRollover is becoming a social company from the inside out.

As I pondered this, I came across an infographic published by Mashable that suggests an integrated approach gets more results than having a dedicated social media team. Their examples compare larger organizations with different approaches to social media.

Of course, the integrated approach within a larger organization has many challenges. How do you keep everyone on message? How do you harness and distribute the valuable information that can be gathered from social media? How to you keep everyone involved in social media up to date with what seems like daily technical changes happening on the social web? How do you keep people focused on their core job as opposed to getting distracted by the social web? When, how, and what should be measured on the social web?

A community manager should be managing the entire community, both internally and externally.  Perhaps a community manager is not so much a “social media expert” but someone who specializes in change management and organizational development.

Should you hire a community manager? As I ponder that question I now believe that depends not on the size of your organization, or the maturity of the organization,  but on the expected rate of change your organization is facing.

What do you think?