Self-sustaining online communities do not exist.
For your community to flourish, it needs to be nurtured with passion and coordinated with intentional, strategic actions.
A community itself can’t properly welcome a newcomer. Nor can it moderate content, properly process feedback, reply to questions with empathy or encourage meaningful conversation. Sure, there have been some pretty exciting developments regarding communities and AI, but you still need a human(s) to run your community.
What Is a Community Manager?
In a nutshell, community managers are responsible for managing, engaging, and growing the community. Think of the community as a flower. The community manager ensures it blooms.
When starting out, Reddit’s founders created hundreds of fake profiles. They knew that they needed to show activity for people to join — no one wants to be part of an empty community. A community manager creates this activity as early as possible and ensures the community is a vibrant hub where people want to be. They ensure members get value and keep coming back.
Great community managers also ensure that the community sticks to the strategic roadmap and supports the overall organization’s goals.
What Does a Community Manager Do?
The role is often not fully understood internally. In fact, there are a lot of myths about community management in general - read more about that here. This can lead to unrealistic expectations and frustration.
So what exactly does a community manager do? The role can vary from community to community. However, the majority of positions include the following:
- Content creation and curation: The community manager creates and shares targeted content to delight members. They also connect users with resources to get them involved in the community.
- Engagement: This is all about nurturing the members throughout their lifecycle and building a relationship with them. The community manager starts discussions, encourages interactions, and answers questions!
- Strategy: The community manager has a clear view of the community roadmap and understands the role the community plays in the wider organization. Based on this, they can analyze the results of their community efforts and adapt their strategy as necessary. They also look for ways to improve the member experience by gathering community feedback and keeping an eye out for trends and challenges in the community — information that can be super useful to the organization!
- Technical: The community manager must be able to effectively use all features of the community management platform, from configuring widgets to employing personalization.
Community managers are also responsible for spotting and flagging bugs or errors and the platform. They also understand how the data is managed and keep an eye on any integrations to ensure data is flowing correctly!
Why Do You Need a Community Manager?
Your community has the potential to bring tremendous value to your organization!
DEWALT, the power tool company, saved $6 million in research costs by launching their community. And the University of Michigan found that customers spent 19% more after becoming a member of a brand’s online community.
If you believe that a community will bring value to your organization, it is worth taking the time to ensure that it is run properly. By hiring the right community manager(s) to support and grow your community, you can increase your organization’s bottom line.
What Makes a Good Community Manager?
Bear in mind that one person may be able to run the community at the beginning. However, as your community grows, you will need to recruit others!
But how can you spot a good community manager?
Community managers need powerful soft skills. They must be good communicators as they need to articulate messages and ideas in creative ways for multiple mediums.
Community managers must be flexible. They wear many hats, including marketer, PR person, and support agent!
Empathy is crucial. Community managers deal with a bunch of different personalities. If they're not able to put themselves in those people's shoes, they won't effectively communicate with them. Passion is also crucial — you don't want someone who is just going through the motions! You need someone excited about your community's mission and dedicated to its success!
Analytical skills are also a must. As the saying goes, what can't be measured, can't be managed. Your community manager needs to measure engagement metrics to see what is working and what is not to keep the community strategy on track!