Being a community manager is a rather exciting, even exotic profession. In many ways, you are the mover of mountains. A CEO or project manager may be the one with the initial vision, but it’s the community managers who are actually out among the people, making it a reality.
Maybe that’s why so many people want to be community managers now. It’s marketing, but with soul – like the best of politicians who go out, door-to-door, interacting with voters to campaign for an important cause. But it requires a special something to really make a good community manager. Some of these traits can be learned. Others demand natural instinct.
No community manager will make it very far without exceptional people and communication skills. That doesn’t mean formality and politeness – in fact, it often means the exact opposite. It requires realness in every situation. Be prepared to laugh rather than argue and engage rather than shy away.
In the end, community managers need to be a friend – someone the rest of the community can talk to and relate to (at least about the topic that the community focuses on). That does require a certain amount of tolerance, however. When you get called the worst names some troll can think of, it’s best not to get in a fight or treat them too seriously.
Just about every job demands decent organization skills, but community manager is on a whole different level. Try maintaining hundreds of conversations across dozens of different platforms all while planning new initiatives and moderating other people’s discussions and you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Community managers need to not only keep track of all those interactions but pick out important lessons, identify opportunities and figure out ways to pursue those. Use whatever tech tools you have available to you to make it easier on yourself – you’re going to need it.
As the head of a community, you set the tone. This is another way that community managers are like political leaders. You set the policies and agendas for your communities and you also have to be the best example within the community. Everyone knows that how you conduct yourself is acceptable within this space, so choose your words and actions carefully.
Also, make sure you’re listening to community members. You may have a very detailed vision for where to take this group and what you hope to achieve, but your community members may feel otherwise. Consider how to integrate their wishes into your plans and remember that the community is for them, not for you. They say absolute power corrupts. Let the rest of the community be the check and balance for your thoughts.
Perhaps most important is not to think of yourself as a marketer for a product. Make the community your top priority and not your product. Have discussions about topics beyond your project and what you hope to achieve. Learn from and teach community members. This sort of authentic interaction is what makes communities an effective way to eventually sell and strengthen a product.
So, think you got what it takes? Are you friendly, excited to meet new people and discuss cool topics? Then go out there and get started! Launch your own subreddit to get some basic experience or build your own Facebook group to learn the core principles of what it means to build and maintain a community. When you get it right, everything will fall into place and that position as community manager will practically be yours.