What does a community manager do?

And why it's important to consider community management as a separate profession.

  • Community building

A community manager (CM) is a relatively young profession with a wide range of tasks. Therefore, it's essential to remember the purpose of these tasks and why we distinguish community management as a separate profession.

A community manager is a professional who creates, supports and develops online and offline communities.

As you know, a community is a group of people who share a common identity, goals, values, and similar life experiences. They are interested in each other and want to participate in joint activities that reflect their values and help them achieve their common goals.

(Read more about what a community is, and what its goals are.)

It's important to understand that a community is different from an audience, social media followers, or brand customers. Employees sitting at adjacent desks won't automatically become a community either – they need to communicate and find common interests and shared values. Any community is built on social connections, which can be weak, like recognizing a person by their avatar in a chat, or strong, like close friendships or inviting community members to a wedding.

The work of a community manager is aimed at creating and strengthening social ties between people in a group.

How community managers differ from other "close" professions

Since the profession is relatively young It's often difficult for companies and specialists themselves to describe what a community manager does in a short and clear way. In small teams, they may combine the tasks of a support service, SMM, event, and content managers with working directly with the community. That's why community managers are often confused with other relatively long-existing professions. This misunderstanding is frequently reflected in job descriptions posted by employers. Let's examine how community managers differ from other professions they are often confused with.

Support Manager

A support manager is responsible for providing technical support to users and customers, helping them resolve issues with the product. Their tasks do not include conflict resolution, handling negative feedback, creating creative content for product users, or communicating outside of email or specialized request processing services.

Content Manager

A content manager is solely responsible for content: planning and creating publications in various formats. Analytics, working with opinions, organizing activists, and fundraising are not part of their responsibilities.

SMM Specialist

An SMM specialist deals with content, analyzes statistics, and sometimes works with negative feedback and reputation – but exclusively online. They do not organize meetings, communicate with activists, establish strong cross-links, or engage in fundraising.

HR Specialist

An HR specialist hires, onboards, and develops personnel for the organization. They sometimes organize team-building activities, corporate events, and communication spaces for employees within the scope of their professional duties. Developing communities from corporate chats or forums requires deeper involvement and significantly more time for communication, which is often lacking.

Event Manager

An event manager specializes in organizing events of various formats, finding venues, creating scenarios, and managing the event. Most often, these specialists work in event agencies. Their responsibilities do not include communicating with event participants, establishing connections with them, regularly creating content, or providing support on social networks.

Although the tasks of various specialists may sometimes overlap in the workplace, it is important to remember that the focus of a community manager is the community and the relationships between its members.

While community managers may share some responsibilities with other roles, their primary goal is to foster a strong, engaged community by building and maintaining connections among members. This unique focus sets community management apart as a distinct and valuable specialty.

Portrait of a good community manager

A community manager's role involves extensive communication with diverse individuals, especially during the early stages of community development. Therefore, it's logical that some of the essential traits and even requirements for such a specialist are sociability and stress resistance. A good community manager needs to develop other soft skills as well, including:

  • Adaptability: Community managers must be able to adjust to various situations and people, as they deal with a wide range of personalities and challenges daily.
  • Creativity: Developing engaging content, activities, and solutions to community issues often requires a creative approach.
  • Emotional intelligence: Understanding and managing one's own emotions, as well as being able to empathize with others, is crucial for building strong relationships within the community.
  • Broad-mindedness: A wide range of knowledge and interests helps community managers relate to diverse community members and create relevant content.
  • Ability to search for information: Efficient research skills are essential for staying up-to-date with industry trends, community interests, and problem-solving strategies.
  • Sense of humor: A good sense of humor can help lighten the mood, diffuse tense situations, and make the community a more enjoyable place for everyone.
  • Time management: Juggling multiple tasks, deadlines, and community needs requires excellent time management skills.
  • Leadership and delegation: As the community grows, the ability to lead and delegate tasks to other members becomes increasingly important.
  • Public speaking: Strong oral communication skills are necessary for engaging with the community, both online and offline, through presentations, videos, or podcasts.
  • Conflict resolution: Knowing how to handle conflicts and maintain a positive atmosphere is essential for a harmonious community.
  • Intercultural communication: In today's global online communities, understanding and respecting cultural differences is vital for effective communication.

While soft skills are essential for a community manager, hard skills are equally important to excel in this role. These skills can be divided into three main categories: personal, managerial, and technical.

Personal hard skills

  • Social psychology: Understanding how people behave in social situations, group dynamics, and the factors that influence human behavior is crucial for building and managing communities.
  • Basic personality psychology: Familiarity with different personality types and how they interact can help community managers tailor their approach to individual members and create a more harmonious community.

Managerial hard skills

  • Project management: Community managers often oversee multiple projects, such as events, content creation, and campaigns. Strong project management skills ensure that these initiatives are well-planned, executed, and evaluated.
  • Team leadership: As communities grow, community managers may need to lead a team of moderators, content creators, or volunteers. Effective leadership skills help delegate tasks, motivate team members, and ensure everyone is working towards common goals.
  • Event management: Organizing both online and offline events is a common responsibility for community managers. This includes planning, promotion, logistics, and post-event follow-up.

Technical hard skills

  • Copywriting and editing: Creating compelling, error-free content is essential for engaging community members and maintaining a professional image. Community managers should be skilled in writing for various platforms, such as blogs, social media, and email newsletters.
  • Basic image and video editing: Visual content is increasingly important in online communities. Having basic skills in creating and editing images and videos can help community managers produce more engaging and professional-looking content.
  • Social media and web platform proficiency: Community managers must be well-versed in the features and best practices of the platforms they use, such as Facebook Groups, Telegram, Slack, Discord, Discourse, custom-built or all-in-one community platforms, etc.
  • Metrics and analytics: Tracking and interpreting community metrics, such as engagement rates, growth, and sentiment, is essential for making data-driven decisions and demonstrating the value of the community to stakeholders.

Although a community manager doesn't need to be an expert in the field they work in, it's essential to strive to learn more. If they are building a brand community, it would be beneficial if they used the company's products or services, were loyal to the brand, and believed in the mission according to which the community is being built. It's also crucial to be able to get along with people and enjoy creating interesting experiences for them.

Experienced professionals describe a good community manager as someone who possesses a unique blend of soft and hard skills, a genuine interest in the community's focus, and a passion for fostering meaningful connections among members. By combining these qualities, a community manager can effectively build, grow, and maintain a thriving community that benefits both its members and the organization it represents.

Community manager responsibilities

Creating a community can be part of a marketing or management strategy or it can be a means of spreading social influence. Depending on where the community is located within the organization's structure, the responsibilities may vary slightly.

If the community manager is part of the user relations department, including a dedicated community management team, their tasks usually include:

  • Creating a community from scratch or supporting an existing one.
  • Developing and maintaining one or more communities around different company products (e.g., several games) on various platforms, both online and offline.
  • Resolving conflicts between users within the community.
  • Creating and implementing a content plan, including producing various content formats or assigning tasks for content creation.
  • Organizing and conducting various activities, contests, and events.
  • Providing technical support to users and assisting with product-related issues.
  • Working with influencers, opinion leaders, partner communities, and companies.
  • Collecting and analyzing feedback, preparing reports on survey results, and community management outcomes.
  • Working with a volunteer team of community members to help develop the community.
  • Collaborating with the PR and marketing departments on joint activities and creating strategies to attract new members to the community.

If the community manager is part of the marketing department, their responsibilities may focus on attracting new members to the community and product, conducting marketing events, managing reviews, brand reputation, and customer loyalty. The list of tasks will be similar to those mentioned above.

In the corporate communications department, the emphasis will be on developing internal communities among company employees, enhancing their competencies, facilitating knowledge-sharing processes, organizing team-building activities, and retaining specialists.

A community manager's workday is usually divided as follows:

Community manager’s workday

Here are a few examples of responsibilities from job listings of various companies:

Community manager position

Community manager position

Community manager position

Community manager position

In summary, a community manager's responsibilities are diverse and multifaceted, requiring a balance of strategic planning, content creation, user engagement, and cross-functional collaboration. The specific focus may vary depending on the department the community manager belongs to, but the ultimate goal remains the same: to build, grow, and nurture a thriving community that benefits both its members and the organization.

Published: Apr 26, 2024