Have you thanked a community manager lately?

Computer mouse in the shape of a heartThis Monday is the fourth annual Community Manager Appreciation Day. Officially, it’s a chance to recognize the folks who help keep the online conversation flowing smoothly, and the virtual bowls of Cheesies and beer cooler well-stocked.

But it’s a lot more than just 21-thumbs-up salutes and parades in cities across the world. (Note to self: confirm parades are happening before building that float.) It’s a chance to learn from each other, and share our experiences in community management.

This year, the festivities are world-wide, from Oracle’s Community Manager of the Year award to events in Vancouver, Japan, Finland and France.

But maybe your best chance to join in is the 12-hour Google+ Hangout hosted by HootSuite and My Community Manager. The lineup of participants is impressive… and while it skews toward the business sector, there’s a lot that non-profits, unions, advocacy groups, campaign organizations, political parties and governments can contribute to (and gain from!) the conversation.

And that conversation is an important one to join. A lot of us talk about how communications is shifting from a broadcast, command-and-control mindset to a more conversational, participatory approach, and how your brand is now in the hands of your members, supporters and stakeholders.

But community managers live and work at the front lines of the social web revolution. Whether they have that title officially, or just do the job because they feel so strongly about it, they’re the ones who turn engagement strategies into actual engagement.

They identify openings for conversation and jump in; put out little fires before they become flame wars; and turn lukewarm supporters into enthusiastic fans. The good ones keep conversations civil but authentic, playful but productive, making a small contribution to meeting the social web’s participatory promise.  The great ones help direct all of that talk into positive, progressive action.

And whether you’ll be joining the hangout or not, we hope you’ll join us on Monday in thanking them.

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