Are Community Managers Lobbyists?

This way... please.

This way… please.

Tried and true lobbyist have a new title – Community Manager. Well it’s not really a new title as in the U.S. many community managers are indeed lobbyists, but up here in Canada you can clearly see a transformation of sorts regarding the profession of social media/online community managers.

In his book, Government Relations for Canadian Associations; How to Be the Voice of your Members with Government, public affairs expert Huw Williams explains,

‘The internet is revolutionizing the way the public interacts with government… Associations are putting detailed advocacy positions online… available to anyone including government policy decision makers.’

Huw goes on to say how technology has made policy development a much more open and available forum to discuss or argue when developing positions and association goals. Thanks to the availability of online tools and channels, lobbyists can now successfully tweet a position statement tied back to an e-book detailing the statement paper on which the position was gleaned from. How about posting a ‘brief’ on a constituent’s Facebook page? Don’t forget to cut and paste a press release on a community blog. Let’s hold a good old Town Hall – online of course.

Welcome to public affairs and building affiliations in 2014. Sound familiar? It should. After all, are affiliations not communities?

In my research, the advancement of today’s online or social media community manager is focused on much of the same. The prospecting, initial development and shepherding of key influencers to gain opinion or behavioural change on behalf of their client’s needs. Done by working with other aligned professionals towards developing strategic plans to execute a public relations and communications campaign. Marketing Magazine columnist Russ Martin reports in October of 2013,

‘Today smart, forward-leaning brands have brought on qualified community managers with backgrounds in digital marketing, public relations and communications.’

Arguably, their accountability will lie in social media key performance indicators but still use traditional lobbyist methods when developing and fostering communities towards advancing policy or gain.

Wether a theocracy or democracy, community leaders have always used communities and groups to advance their cause. Why is today any different.

What are your thoughts? Let me know on my blog :

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