Community Manager

What is a Community Manager?

A community manager is an individual who oversees an offline or online community that is centered around a shared interest. This role typically involves creating and managing outreach opportunities, organizing events, and fostering positive interactions among group members.

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In business, the core function of a community manager is to act as a liaison between a community and an organization. This requires engaging with community members individually or as a group – and finding new reasons for members to interact with each other.

Responsibilities

Community managers need both hard skills and soft skills to carry out their responsibilities. Soft skills are personal traits that determine how an individual interacts with others.

Soft Skill Community Manager Responsibilities
Leadership Is able to invent new ways for community members to engage.
Communication Can communicate effectively through multiple channels and convey information to community members clearly through the most appropriate communication media.
Problem-Solving Knows how to proactively address community concerns.
Empathy Can understand conflicting points of view.
Influence Knows how to encourage community members to follow established guidelines and best practices.
Conflict Resolution Is able to mediate disputes within the community.
Adaptability Can pivot in real-time to respond to changing situations and community needs.
Patience Is able to maintain composure in challenging situations.

Community managers also require hard skills. Hard skills are specific abilities and technical proficiencies that can be taught, measured, and objectively demonstrated.

Hard Skill Community Manager Responsibilities
Marketing Knows basic strategies for enhancing community visibility and engagement.
Project Management Is able to organize, plan, and manage community-related projects.
Event Planning Can coordinate logistics with event planning software.
Data Analytics Can interpret social media metrics to gauge community engagement.
Reporting Is able to share community insights with data-driven reports that use key performance indicators (KPIs).
Technical Troubleshooting Demonstrates a basic understanding of bulk email, community forums, HTML, cascading style sheets (CSS), and other relevant technologies.
Legal Can implement and enforce risk management policies to protect the community from potential liability.

Types of Community Managers

Depending on the community’s size, funding, and objectives, the manager could be a full-time employee, a part-time coordinator, or a volunteer.

A full-time professional community manager for a large corporation, for example, might work in online marketing and be required to have a certification or relevant university degree. In contrast, a part-time community manager for a homeowner’s association might only need basic computer skills and be required to live in the community.

In some cases, community managers are unpaid volunteers. These individuals are often passionate about the community’s focus and dedicate their time and skills without financial compensation.

In other cases, volunteer managers may be compensated for their time and effort with perks like free products or exclusive access to premium services. For example, a cryptocurrency project’s community manager may be compensated with the project’s cryptocurrency. This form of compensation can be a significant incentive, especially if the cryptocurrency increases in value because it aligns the manager’s interests with a project’s success.

Sometimes, an individual might find themselves in the role of a community manager by default or necessity rather than by choice. For example, a person who starts an online group or forum based on a hobby or interest might become its community manager simply because they created the platform. This type of manager is known as an incidental community manager.

In certain communities, especially smaller or more informal ones, the management role can be shared or rotated among members rather than being the responsibility of a single designated individual. This type of manager is known as a community-led manager.

Community Manager vs. Social Media Manager

In many small to mid-sized businesses, the community manager may also be tasked with managing social media.

In many large organizations, however, the community manager’s focus and primary objectives are different from the social media manager’s focus and objectives — and the two job roles have distinctly different metrics for success.

This distinction ensures that both marketing and community engagement are effectively managed in alignment with the business’s broader objectives.

  Community Manager Social Media Manager
Focus Build and manage an online and/or offline community. Monitor a brand’s presence on social media platforms.
Engagement Directly engage with community members. Engage with customers and potential customers through content creation and curation.
Goals Create a loyal, engaged community. Increase brand awareness and sales leads.
Skills and Tools Strong in conflict resolution, empathy, and communication. Adept in content creation, data analysis, SEO, and digital marketing trends.
Metrics Subjective, quantitative metrics for community health and member satisfaction. Quantifiable metrics for engagement, community growth, and conversion rates.

How to Become a Professional Community Manager

There’s no single career path for becoming a professional community manager, but many full-time managers have university degrees in communication, marketing, public relations, or business.

Some organizations do not require a degree as long as the candidate is certified in community management and has relevant work experience.

This can be achieved through various means, including completing an internship, managing a large Facebook group, establishing an active social media following, or having experience in a related field like customer service.

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…