I managed an invitational-only customer design validation online forum. There was simply an expectation that this task would get done - it fell under the "...other duties as required..." heading.
I think there is a difference between an individual champion at a company who understands the value of social community and an enlightened management who reward and nurture these individual champions. I think it is still rare for corporate cultures to acknowledge and embrace the social revolution that products like SBS are producing.
Agreed. I think its certainly a challenge to put an exact dollar figure on the ROI that being a Community Manager/Social Media Manager brings. I spent a lot of my time showing the feedback we received directly from our users. My previous company spent a lot of money on focus groups and other targeted surveys even though the people that cared greatly about the brand were already talking about it online.
I am a firm believer in listening to consumer feedback, especially if you have a product that is free and gives the consumer no reason not to switch to the (also free) competition. The consumer is always going to be looking for the company that listens to them and addresses their needs. The company that listens will always win.
The Community Manager that can show a consumer opinion that is a trend in the marketplace, can prove to management how to retain their loyal customer base, and attract new customers if those loyal are already vocal about your brand. If that's not a great ROI, I'm not sure what is... but attempting to attach a dollar figure is a whole other can of worms.