Associations and Community Management Are Like PB&J

Whenever I read articles like this one about Community Managers for brands, I admit it--I say a little prayer of thanks that I work for an association. Why? Because being a community manager for a brand seems like much harder work than managing a pre-existing community. Talk about low-hanging fruit: associations already ARE communities.

Take a look at Facebook if you don't understand what I mean. Every day as I scroll through my feed I thank my lucky stars that I'm not a community manager for a brand. Basically they have to create an artificial community from people who are fans if they're getting something free or discounted but who mostly are there to gripe about how much they hate the brand. This quote from the Ad Age article above speaks volumes to me:
"One of the dangers of how it's being handled right now is the idea that every brand is going to have a community, and every community is going to have a community manager," she said. "The challenge is whether there's really a reason for that community to adhere."

Meanwhile, every association already IS a de facto community. True, not all of those community members are active online....yet--and "yet" is the operative word. Which would you rather--start as community manager at Brand X and have to start a community from scratch while upper management looks at their watches, waiting with baited breath to see the ROI on hiring you...in other words, WHERE ARE THE LEADS AND SALES?!...or start as community manager at an association of like-minded professionals who are already paying dues for one primary purpose: to connect with fellow members?