What is a Community Manager?

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash
Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

What is a Community Manager? And do I really need one?

If you are trying to build, grow or manage a community, the you need a manager.  If you are just getting started then YOU may be the community manager – so it’s a good idea to find out what the community manager is supposed to be doing!

If you are growing a community, at some point you may want to hand off the responsibility for managing the community to someone else.

What Does a Typical Community Manager Make?

Whether you are interested in becoming a community manager or hiring one, you might want to know what the average community manager makes – and what other skills and experience they bring to the table.

In 2010, the average community manager was 30 years old, with 5+ years experience in marketing, and earned $62,000.  About a third of them work from home (at least part of the time).

What Exactly Does a Community Manager Do?

According to Wikipedia: The online community manager role is a growing and developing profession. People in this position are working to build, grow and manage communities around a brand or cause.

Looking at job postings for online community managers, you may get the idea that the primary job responsibilities include posting to: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  It seems that in many people’s mind “community management” and “social media” are the same thing… and they are people doing the hiring.  But how much does social media really have to do with community management?

A community manager is responsible for keeping the conversation going in your community.  For some organizations that may look like someone standing up on stage and talking… and talking… and talking.  Too often that is what social media efforts look like. You tweet every blog post, you share them on Facebook and LinkedIn.  Then you write another blog post.

A better way to look at social media is as two-way communication.  You need to engage people, and sometimes that means being interested in what they are tweeting and sharing too.  At a basic level, the community manager needs to be able to engage in a 2-way conversation.

But that is only the beginning if you are looking at community management.  A good community manager doesn’t just talk to people – she gets people to talk to each other. Like a master networker, great community managers don’t just connect with other people, they help other people connect with each other. When that happens, your community will begin to grow itself.

What is the Return on Investment for a Community Manager?

It’s hard to measure the return on your investment with social media and even more so with community management. With traditional advertising coupon codes and special promotions can help to measure in exact dollars and cents what kind of return you are getting.

How much difference does a community it really make?  It depends on your goals and how well you manage your community. An online community is often the best fit for clubs and organizations (like churches) that aren’t focused strictly on sales. Your goals may have to do with the number of members, or how involved those members are with your group or cause.

In that case a good community manager can help by making sure all your members feel like they are noticed and appreciated.  When your members feel more engaged, then they are likely to be more responsive to sales or fund-raising efforts.  If your community manager is really great, then your community will have the added advantage of growing more and more advocates for your product, service, or cause – most of whom will be spreading the good word for free.

About the author


Karen Freeman-Smith lives near Portland, OR with her partner, two grown children (in and out of the basement), and a cat named Shiva. Karen maintains two personal websites as well as several topical websites about: Programming, Web Development, Foreign Languages, International Students, Fiction Writing, and Typing.
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