What do community managers do, exactly?
Short Answer: No one seems to know…exactly.
Medium Answer: Lots of things. Pretty much anything that has to do with managing a community. But probably not what a social media manager does, maybe. Unless they do.
Long Answer: The community manager wears many hats. Which is already confusing. Even more confusing is that a community manager will wear different selections of hats depending on the community they’re managing and why they manage it. These hats will differ based on the topic of the community, whether they’re private or public communities, and whether they’re just communities of common interest or the increasingly popular brand communities.
Let’s look at just a few things that community managers do.
Being a moderator means that the community manager monitors community interaction to make sure it stays civil and within the established guidelines of the community. A moderator just generally helps foster a good community culture. A moderator may delete posts, weed out spam, talk privately to members causing trouble, or, as a last resort, bring down the ban hammer.
If a community is mainly based on something like Twitter, the community manager is unlikely to do a lot of moderating. But on forums, Facebook pages, listservs or other communities that are more discussion-based, the community manager (or possibly other employees hired specifically for this job) will need to moderate. Moderating is an important part of keep a clean, welcoming community.
In any community, but especially a new community, the community manager will need to be an encourager. What do community managers do as encouragers? As an encourager, the manager may start discussions, post content for comment on, or poke others into participating. They may run contests or start polls. Basically, anything to make a community active and to get members excited about communicating.
What do community managers do as ambassadors? Well, ambassador is a hat specific to brand communities. In brand communities, the community manager is often the face of the company. They may answer questions or address concerns. They may contribute to a conversation, unprompted, in order to give the brand a voice in the community.
A brand ambassador strives to give the community members a positive experience with the company.
In a small community, especially a forum-based community, the community manager may need to be the techie. They’ll need to solve technical problems the members may have with the community platform.
And they’ll also need to keep the community platform up-to-date and working correctly. They may need to keep up with spam filters or react to changes in the community by adding new features.
A community contains a lot of information and the community manager will need to analyze so that they know how to best grow their community. This information includes statistics, of course. But it also includes just the general feel and attitude of the community.
Does the community feel hostile? Does it feel welcoming? Is one part of the community contributing something that another part of the community would be interested in? The community manager needs to keep their feelers out at all times.
These are just a few of the many hats a community manager wears. Basically, if it has to do with keeping a community growing and healthy, a community manager probably does it.
What do you think community managers do? What do you do as a community manager? Tell us in the comments below.