Community management is a hot topic in social. In fact, there are 48,258 people who list Community Manager as a title or Community Management as a keyword on LinkedIn.
So it’s a hot space – I know this because I work with clients everyday supporting community management. I’ve got a bird’s eye view, so here goes my rant about what is a community manager.
Community managers have been around for years. Really, people have been managing digital communities in some form or another since the dawn of message boards and chat rooms. Not until the mass adoption of Facebook, Twitter and the like has it become a defined profession – and rightly so.
An active social media program in an organization disrupts traditional departments and silos. No one feels this more acutely than the community manager. Everybody (and their dog) has their own definition of what a community manager does because there are a number of demands and responsibilities that fall within the community management title.
According to the Community Management Round Table (in their State of Community Management 2011 report), the top attributes of a Community Manager are “The desire to be helpful, someone who is concise and credible, a sense of humor, curiosity, fearlessness, influential, persuasive, diplomatic, patient and mature. The expertise required for the role of community manager is strategic business acumen combined with exceptional communication and people skills.”
What do I think? A community manager is a passionate strategic thinker who is a content creator and a moderator, a listener and informer. Essentially, it is someone who encourages conversation and engagement around a product, brand, issue or cause. I asked my Twitter and Facebook networks to tell me their definition of a community manager. As expected, quite varied:
- @jeremywaite: A community manager should be in-house. No one else will be as passionate about your brand
- @Sparkle_Media: in-house community management is a goal: a person/role to add to client team; interim & freelance CM’s can add bandwidth
- @nav_een: CM should be patient, thick-skinned, creative, wordsmith. I agree with @sparkle_agency that CM should be in-house.
- @heyneil: The catalyst for conversation in brand social spaces, the moderator of objectionable content and the person who escalates questions or issues to appropriate people within the organization. Also, the person who filters the brand team’s request for activity in the social spaces using best practices.
There’s so much juicy stuff in those comments from folks in my network. What’s your take? Is Community Manager a profession that’s here to stay or just a trendy job title for something else? When should (could) Community Management be outsourced?
With so many companies now creating internal communities as well as external ones, I would say that the community manager is the archetype for the modern manager. A manager where teams are increasingly remote and not motivated by financial carrots and sticks. A manager for whom fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing will be key to organisational success.
These are all things that community managers have been doing for years.