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Learn what community managers do, including core roles, how they relate to other community jobs, and qualities of great a community manager

Can you recall your favorite brand? 

Maybe you love it because of great customer service, excellent quality products, witty ads, or because your friends love them. No matter the reason, there’s a whole community of people who admire that brand too. 

Communities may be the new buzzword but they’re a game-changer because they increase brand awareness and enhance customer loyalty. 

79% of organizations believe that investing in communities has had a positive impact on their objectives. 

Think of brands like Apple, Lego, Airbnb, Coca-Cola, Sephora, Red Bull, PlayStation, or even Rod Stryker. Red Bull, for example, attracts a community of athletes, adrenaline enthusiasts, and sporting spectators. 

If not for strong communities, these brands wouldn’t be as successful as they are. 

In the context of brands, online communities came into existence because their primary goal was to serve their customers. 

Today, communities help build genuine relationships, understand customers’ interests and pain points better, educate them, and— of course— listen to their needs to eventually deliver better products or services. 

However, some communities today simply exist to bring together a set of people who are passionate about similar ideas—like the NFT communities. 

Whether you are an entrepreneur, an online tutor, or a niche expert, investing in community-building efforts will give you an added advantage in a hyper-competitive ecosystem. 

Let’s take another example of Harley Davidson. Back in 1983, Harley Davidson went bankrupt. 25 years later, it was listed among the top 50 global brands and had a whopping valuation of $7.8 billion. When asked, it attributed its success to building a community, “a group of ardent consumers organized around the lifestyle, activities, and ethos of the brand” as puts it. 

Fast forward to today, it has been discovered that 76% of internet users participate in an online community. 

Data cannot lie. People love being part of a community where everyone shares similar passions. (And that community could be yours too!)  But managing communities is not child’s play. That’s where a community manager comes in. 

In the ever-evolving digital space, the role of a community manager is evolving too. 

This article discusses what a community manager does, and enlists qualities that make for a ‘good’ community manager. 

Related: How To Build An Online Community

Download The Complete Learning Communities Toolkit: Download Now

Who is a Community Manager?

Community managers are the middlemen or women who are responsible for building and maintaining genuine relationships between the brand and its customers.  They are the voice of the brand and moderate and grow the community by supporting, and engaging with customers. Eventually, their goal is to turn customers into loyal fans by offering them immense value, and an inclusive space to foster relationships. 

Roles and Responsibilities of a Community Manager

While there could be a bit of variance in the roles and responsibilities of a community manager depending on the industry—here’s what it generally entails;

  • Ideate, and implement community-focused  campaigns and strategies
  • Create snackable and engaging content like daily/weekly product updates, short videos, group discussion topics, or other types of content as required
  • Respond to customers and be valuable, all in friendly and a timely manner
  • Monitor and track metrics and report them on feedback and online reviews
  • Boost brand awareness by organizing and managing events and  webinars 
  • Liaise and coordinate with other departments like marketing teams, communications teams, customer support teams, sales teams, development teams, and content teams
  • Build relationships with industry experts and invite them to collaborate 
  • Stay up-to-date with digital technology trends and explore innovative ways to engage the community
  • Lays down strict community guidelines to promote an inclusive and safe space. (check out a community guidelines template here)
  • Plans and executes community-engaging like giveaways or contests 

Related: Successful Online Community Examples (+What Makes Them Great)

Difference Between a Social Media Manager and a Community Manager

Sure, there may be a lot of responsibilities that overlap between a “social media manager” and a “community manager”. But the role of a community manager doesn’t revolve around acting as the brand and promoting its products or services on social media. It is much broader. Because their specialty lies in understanding the community as a whole. 

Community managers need to track down the ideal customer persona, understand how they speak, who they follow, what interests them, what their pain points are, and find ways to fit the brand in that equation. Community managers need to be active on the platform where the community is hosted, be it Facebook or Slack groups.  Furthermore, a community manager always manages the community from their own accounts, not the brand’s.

What Does a Community Engagement Manager do? 

Community Engagement Managers are often hired by large businesses and they directly report to the Executive Director. Unlike a community manager, a community engagement manager’s role is external facing, like overseeing fundraising activities or brand engagement efforts towards local or regional communities. Ideally, they need to be well-versed with public policy. 

Related: How to Build a Community Around Your Brand (+ Brand Community Examples)

Community Management Best Practices

  • Create an ICP (ideal customer profile). Coordinate with marketing teams to understand the audience thoroughly. For instance, their likes, dislikes, pain points, podcasts they love— basically, everything under the sun that will help build a community that’s more about them and less about the brand. 
  • Decide where you would like to host the community. Today there are plenty of platforms to choose from. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Slack, Discord, or even Reddit. Identify where your target audience hangs out the most (or a platform they prefer the most), and establish your presence there. If you want it to be an invite-only exclusive community then Slack groups are a good option. Or if you are looking for a platform where anyone can join with ease, then open Facebook groups are a good way to go. And online educators, for example, can host a community on Thinkific. 
  • Set posting schedules. Plan and establish posting schedules so that your audience always knows when the next post will be up. Set certain days for certain types of announcements. For example, AMAs on Wednesdays with industry experts, and product updates on Thursdays. 

Additionally, a community manager needs to always maintain a brand voice to make sure that the essence of the brand is never lost. 

Related: 30+ Community Engagement Strategy Ideas

Qualities of a Good Community Manager

Building long-lasting relationships lies at the helm of community building. But efforts need to be put in from day one. Here’s a list of skills that will help a community manager build successful communities; 

  • Passionate about communities. Community managers need to have an inherent passion for communities. Their role is to create a safe space where the members can foster genuine relationships, and interact in a hassle-free manner. Passion for people is requisite because only then you can make sure that each person involved has a positive experience with your brand. 
  • Be the go-to person for the community members. Gone are the days when 1:1 communication between brands and their customers was a rarity. Today that happens almost instantaneously. A community manager needs to establish a rapport of being the go-to person for queries, or any help in general. That can be built by offering value. 

As Cierra Loflin, the Community Manager and Content Marketer at Superpath puts it ‘being a community manager is more than just being a friendly face. You need to dedicate a certain amount of time every week (or even every day) to post thoughtful replies to topics you feel qualified to answer. Try to share helpful articles or tools when you come across them. “

  • Good communication skills. Community managers are a brand’s ambassadors. Anything they say directly affects the reputation of the brand. So strong communication skills are a must. More importantly, they need to have a knack for empathizing with the audience. They need to be efficient at relaying information, creating crisp and engaging content and have the know-how to tackle any conflict or crisis that may occur within the community.
  • Ability to make data-driven decisions. A community-centered brand still needs to generate revenue, and a community manager needs to be wary of that. 

Either on a quarterly or annual basis, it is important to establish KPIs and plan efforts accordingly. What’s the eventual goal of the community? 

A few questions to ponder upon are;

  • Do you want to increase engagement? 
  • Do you want to educate?
  • Do you want to upsell? 
  • Do you want to drive more sales? 

A ‘good’ community manager understands the brand’s goals and analyzes data generated from the community to evaluate what’s working and what’s not. While a lot of day-to-day decisions would require personal judgment or gut feeling, in the end, those decisions should be optimized to reinforce business objectives. 

  • Niche expertise. A community manager who understands the ins and outs of your industry, in general, will always outsmart a generalist community manager. It is safe to say that they are the eye and the ear of your brand. Online communities give brands real-time insights about industry insights. In fact, communities prefer to interact with a community manager who has a solid understanding of the brand’s product or services, and—of course— the industry in general. 
  • Valuable. A community manager should always focus on providing value more than anything. You need to reassure your community members that you are there to back them up. But you don’t have to have all the knowledge in the world. 

Share simple things that you feel would be of value to your community. 

“Quite recently I shared a Text-to-Speech tool that I use to proofread my articles in the final editing stage, and the post got lots of engagement—so hopefully, it was helpful for other people too. 

Managing a community means being active in that community, and sharing tidbits of knowledge consistently”, says Cierra.

Looking to build a powerful community of your own to educate your audience or help them with ongoing queries? Thinkific lets you create a community in super-simple steps.  Try it today