Who is a Community Manager today?
The premise here is extremely simple. The role of a community manager has expanded in the digital age, beyond the initial tasks of moderating online forums and organizing in-person events, to include digital marketing and social media. That’s it. That’s the whole game here. But at this point, you’re probably thinking —
“Wait, aren’t most of the community managers already know of the expansion and scope of the CM role?”
“For readers who are current or aspiring CMs, you should know how to assess your skillset and work style right?”
“And similarly if you’re a brand, you must also define the type of community manager role that meets your needs. That’s equally important too.”
“So what’s so different about this story, then?”
Well, to put it succinctly — not all communities are created equal. The title community manager (CM) is almost a misnomer. Strong communities are not actually “managed” even though the role’s name suggests otherwise. It sounds weird, sure. But that’s precisely what it is.
However, let’s stick with convention and use the term “community manager.” A person in this role can contribute in very different ways depending on the needs of a brand and the community within it. This means a hiring brand needs to choose carefully in more ways than one, in addition to filling the role with the right person, the brand also needs to clarify what type of community management is needed. So, in this story, we’ll help you define what community management is for your brand and how to find that magical person who’ll take care of your community.
Actually, I’d like to start with debunking some myths about community management as it’s very important for us to begin with the right direction. Let’s see what community management is NOT:
A purely digital marketing and communications role
Just posting Facebook updates and Tweets all-day
Something that can be added to customer service to triage complaints
A role that can be passed off to the optimization people hiding out with the tech team
A job that should be handed to any “digital native” (meaning that, no, not every community manager should be straight out of college and under 25).
Now that you know what community management is not, let’s define community management for your brand.
Defining community management for your brand
Think about this for a moment - what does your brand specifically need in terms of a community manager and what characteristics are most important to your brand. Then, let’s combine these two perspectives together to identify how to define the CM role for your needs—and then pen it accordingly.
Quick Note: Sorry for the interruption, but this is really exciting! Next week, we’ll be having our Episode 3 of the Community Unfold series with none other than Brian Oblinger. He is a community “veteran” in many ways who has been there, done that and seen the rise of communities from close quarters. We’ll talk about how the community is shaping up in the SaaS world, business values, vendor selection, and much more. I am pretty excited and couldn’t wait till next week to tell you all about it. Stay tuned! Till then, let’s love and support our community and get back to where we were. ✨
What should the role look like?
Okay, so coming back to the point, let’s look at the different ways a community manager can drive value for your brand.
The community manager’s tasks can include but aren’t limited to, creating all community content (such as photos, words, videos, and/or other shareable media), Facebook posts, blog posts, articles, podcasts, Twitter posts, LinkedIn posts, Quora posts, link building, responding to community, escalating issues, working as brand advocates, creating social media marketing-led campaigns, and engaging with customers - uffff! Keep in mind that these tasks are all done with the goal of maximizing a brand or company’s marketing impact and reach.
However, the primary responsibilities that form the foundation of a community manager are listed below which can be a good starting point for you while writing a job description. You can obviously refine the role and tailor it to your brand’s needs.
Managing customer relationships (acquiring, retaining, facilitating, activating)
Gathering insights by putting the customer first and understanding their wants and needs
Acting as a connector and ensuring customers are heard
Acting as a conduit between the customer and the resources, access, or knowledge they need from your brand
Understand that there’s a lot at stake when you hire a community manager. It’s a risk that could blow up in your face if you do not take it seriously or assume anyone with 1,543 friends on Facebook will know how to handle the job properly and effectively. Do as much planning and diligence as you would when hiring the head of marketing. Placing this level of importance and rigor to the hiring process with a role that is often considered junior to mid-level will help you avoid the pitfalls of assuming any digital native will be able to do the job.
How do you find this magical person?
Well, I think skills can be acquired, the experience can be gained, but the instincts to be a good community manager are innate. At the end of the day, the most important thing community managers bring to the table is their ability to connect people, ideas, opportunities, and insights (both within and outside of the brand).
And, for Community Managers...
Whether you’re an aspiring CM or already holding the position, it’s important to understand your core competencies, how they apply to the job you’re doing (or want to be doing), and how to acquire the additional skills that you need to do the best job possible.
Speaking of social media, use it! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or whatever cool thing that just launched. This is the world that CMs inhabit, so live in it. Get familiar with the different ways people interact on each channel. This understanding will guide your communications and strategy, helping you to reach out to your audience with authenticity.
That’s it for this week. Let us know your thoughts by replying to this email or dropping a comment. If you liked what you read, please share it on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter - wherever you love to spend most of your time spreading knowledge!