You have probably picked up by now that the twenty-first century is the century of social media. The majority of content ends up in one medium or another, and, once out there, it takes on a completely new, viral dimension.
The more things people post every day, the more traffic is being created. Chaos comes as a natural consequence of this process, which is, naturally, bad for the business. Therefore, Community Managers are the key figures in internet marketing, because they organize this content, they keep it maintained, and, of course, grow the tribe.
If you are not sure what Community Management is actually about, here are a few things you need to know.
A short history of Community Management
Online Community Management hit the job market as early as the mid-1990s, with the advent of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games (MMORPG). Since then, the roles of a Community Manager have changed a bit, taking pace with the ever-growing advancements in the IT industry. At first, these roles included management of social media, marketing, and support. During its first 10 to 15 years, Community Manager gradually reached the top of the hottest job positions, and by now it finally became one of the massively wanted occupations in web development.
As a form of gratitude to the effort all Community Managers devote every day, in 2010 the first Community Manager Appreciation Day was held, and now is established as a tradition. It was started by Jeremiah Owyang, the founder of Crowd Companies Council, and now occurs on the 4th Monday of January every year. On this day, the viral community sends sincere thank you notes with #CMAD and #CMGR hashtags as a way of loyal support to their online Community Managers. Not only that it can be followed via its official website, but this event also found its place in the offline world with social media businesses from San Francisco, Boston, and Austin (USA), as well as Nairobi (Kenya) and Tampere (Finland) organizing actual in-person meetup events.
Community Manager vs. Social Media Manager
Community Managers are often confused with Social Media Managers. Even though they both work in the same area (their work demands pretty much the same set of basic skills, like organizational and communication skills), there are differences between the two. For instance, Social Media Managers represent the company brand on social media networks. Their main responsibilities include the creation of content, giving answers to questions, responding to comments related to the brand, and especially communicating with the clients via social media.
On the other hand, Community Managers create their own social persona on social networks and actively get involved with potential customers, all in order to advocate the brand. In the majority of cases, Community Management involves working on boosting awareness of the company and communicating with potential clients and people who have not yet heard of the business.
So, to sum up, both types of managers work in the area of social media, but the main difference between the two is that SMMs take care of the existent clientele, whereas CMs aim at reaching a new audience by enhancing visibility and working on the prospects of the business.
What defines a Community Manager’s Job?
Community Managers multitask. According to WikiBrands.com, they are responsible for the following things (ordered according to ranking):
- Content creation
- Customer support
- Brand evangelism
- Hosting events
- Community evolution
- Internal rallying cry
- Technical responsibilities
- Moderate disputes
- Product education
This looks like a hell of a lot of responsibilities, and it is interesting that they all seem logical and interconnected once you get the hang of it. These responsibilities can be organized into three categories based on the roles Community Managers take up in their companies.
- Internal roles: brand evangelist, rallying cry (client stir stick), internal trainer, product educator;
- Bridge roles: content creation, hosting events, strategy/community evolution, program manager /administrator;
- External roles: customer support, facilitation/moderation, recruitment, technical.
Communication, metrics/research, and training are always on the borders between all these three kinds of roles and are demanded during the entire workday of a Community Manager.
All in all, Community Managers are people who facilitate communication between the company and the community, analyze their needs and send signals to the management in order to improve the business and make better prospects for the company.
Tasks and responsibilities
Forbes prescribes the four pillars of Community management, being the following:
- Listening – The listening pillar assumes a lot of statistics. It is through numbers gained via social media metrics that Community Managers ‘listen’ to what the community wants, by analyzing feedback (either directly or by polling on the social media, email, phone, etc.). Based on the results of social media analytics, Community Managers measure online community presence and see if the business is doing its job properly.
- Growth – The biggest challenge Community Managers face is growth. They are in charge of growing the community, taking care of its needs, and increasing popularity and the number of social media followers, which in turn reflects in more work opportunities for the company.
- Engagement – Companies and brands are not organic, so it is the role of Community Managers to be involved in the world of social media and maintain the communication. This engagement subsumes creating and sharing content, as well as replying to forum threads, making personal connections and hearing what they have to say on a regular basis.
- Improvement – Since all communication is based on responding to people’s needs adequately, a good Community Manager has to know how to work out a way to act as a middleman between the target audience and the company’s development team which improves their user experience. Since one of the tasks of a good Community Manager is to monitor the competition, it is required to follow and keep up with the latest industry trends and provide customers with the best possible service.
A good Community Manager’s traits
Even though many people think that good Community Managers need to have at least five years of experience, this is not the case, especially today since the marketing business evolves so quickly that people do not even have the time to keep up with its pace.
Internet marketing and creating media content basically require the ability to communicate the message and get a positive feedback. This ability is, of course, the result of many years of learning, so vast knowledge of the world is desirable. Content Managers must also possess the willingness to acquire all new kinds of knowledge, so the more you know, the better.
Community Managers are translators of information – they use one media to interpret the message and get feedback to improve the future, so they need strong communication skills. This means being there for the community, having strong people skills and a truckload of understanding and empathy towards their needs.
After that comes the core of management – being organization. Organization skills are essential to this job especially, since they demand multitasking while doing the job properly at the same time. Since Community Management involves a lot of responsibilities, Community Managers need to find a way to adapt to the current situation and be dedicated to the work. Social media know not about the clock, so this means even answering the phone at 2 AM.
And finally, what is work if there is no passion? Exquisite Community Managers should be passionate about the brand. Finding inspiration is not easy, so a certain amount of creativity and making good calls about the business are the skills this type of work demands.
Since you now have a better picture of what Community Managers actually do, be prepared for the #2016CMAD (which will be held on January 24, 2016) and think of a nice note you can send to our Community Manager.