Daily Archives: May 10, 2013

Skills and Tips for Future Community Managers

Several weeks ago, I served as the weekly moderator for #CMGRclass’ Google+ community.  The weekly topic was “Social Media Management vs. Community Management,” and among the external resources that I shared was Vadim Lavrusik’s 10 Tips for Aspiring Community Managers.  Oops – or well done.  It turns out that this article was an assigned reading during the last week of the course focusing on “The Future of Community Management.”

While the piece is over two and a half years old, it still contains practical, actionable skills and tips to help a hopeful community manager get started in the field of community management.  Interestingly, these attributes reflect many of the key topics covered during #cmgrclass and together represent the progression of the course throughout the semester.  Here, I present a summary of Lavrusik’s tips.

  1. Evangelize your product.  The most effective community managers have in-depth knowledge of and are passionate about the business or organization they represent.  Often, they brought these attributes to the table before landing their CM position.
  2. Show empathy.  It’s not enough to know a company inside and out; it’s also important to understand the perspective of its users.  This includes knowing their passions, both positive and negative, about the brand.
  3. Communicate through engagement.  As Jenn Pedde writes in The Best (and Worst) Community Management Job Descriptions, the goal of community “is to connect people with people.  Period.”  Effective communication is vital to achieve this.
  4. Be present online, including being active on social media sites and having a blog about your industry.  It demonstrates that you’re social, you can effectively communicate and engage with an audience, and you have knowledge in your business sector.
  5. Be authentic.  To paraphrase a key concept that has arisen during every class I’ve taken in the iSchool’s CAS in Social Media program, people talk to people, not businesses; they engage with faces, not with company or organization logos.
  6. Showcase (or acquire) multiple skills.  It sounds obvious, but more skills are better for a prospective community manager, especially when targeting smaller companies.  If you don’t have them, get them, and always be on the lookout for new and emerging tools and platforms.
  7. Listen - ky_olsonListen.  Perhaps one of the most important traits of an effective community manager is the ability to listen.  As Lavrusik states, “It’s important to listen to the conversations taking place around your company, industry, or product.”  Not only will this listening practice provide insight about what customers are saying about a brand, but it can also help guide the type of content to make the community more impactful.
  8. Build relationships online and offline.  Another important learning from #CMGRclass and other iSchool courses, in-person encounters will help to strengthen and deepen relationships initiated online.
  9. Demonstrate vision and flexibility.  Not only do successful community managers excel at handling individual projects and tasks, they are also big-picture thinkers.  They are able to set and execute strategy, and are also quick to learn new tools and technologies.
  10. Empower others.  Perhaps the most important of Lavrusik’s tips is the need to develop ambassadors from within.  Without momentum from team members and buy-in from management, a community manager’s  efforts can be at best wasted or at worst fruitless.

The Community Manager as Connector

The role of the community manager is here to stay.  As Erin Bury describes in Community Manager Job Description, A Definitive Guide, he is she incorporates “online tools and in-person networking to create relationships and ultimately build the company’s brand, both online and off.”  Ultimately, an effective community manager delivers value to his or her community as well as the business the community represents.  He or she has identified the appropriate audience and the platforms it uses, listens to what it cares about, planned appropriate content, measured efficacy with regard to organizational objectives, and revised as necessary.  With careful resourcing, planning, and execution, for-profit and non-profit businesses alike can realize the benefits of a community manager to their ultimate goals.

Which of Lavrusik’s tips most resonates with you?  Why?

(“Community” image from Vadim Lavrusik’s 10 Tips for Aspiring Community Managers.  “Listen” and “Quality and Value” images from Flickr users ky_olson and wetwebwork.  Featured image by Flickr user Helico.)

Community Management: To Infinity and Beyond!

This final week of #cmgrclass has circulated around the future of community management. Considering the exceptional growth this field has seen over the past few years, it’s reasonable to assume that its growth will only excel in the years to come. As recently as 2009, people like Dawn Foster were giving talks entitled “Online Community Manager: Yes, It’s Really a Job”. Now, only 4 years later, this career path has taken a commanding and fertile root in companies worldwide.

While the future growth of community management is all but guaranteed, the field itself continues to evolve as the full potential and benefits of well-crafted community management is realized.

In her post Community Manager Job Description, A Definitive Guide, Erin Bury shares how she went from not knowing what the job title “community manager” meant back in 2008, to becoming gainfully deployed as one, and then gives, as a title implies, a definitive guide to what she perceives is the role of a community manager.

In broad terms, Bury defines the role of a community manager as “the face of a company, managing communications in both directions. This digital-savvy employee is responsible for all communications, PR, social media, events, and content creation, among other things.”

Prefacing the list with a brief disclaimer that each and every day as a community manager is different, here are the items she found crucial to the job:

1. Content creation

2. Social media marketing

3. Events and event planning

4. Public relations

5. Customer relations

6. Communications/marketing strategy

7. Analytics

8. Business development


Taking it a step further, Rachel Caggiano and Matt Kelly do a bit of community manager forecasting in their post Rebranding the Community Manager – The 7 Skills of a Community Director. The concepts presented in their post build on a foundation of Bury’s definition, and go on to state how it’s currently changing and speculate how it will continue to evolve.

They found that “today’s community manager needs to be a fan segmentations specialist, an ad and content targeting expert, a crisis radar technician, and a leader of multiple content creators across the organization. A real business director with the necessary gravitas to get the most out of the community, as well as the brand, to really drive value,” and dub this highly skilled individual as something new but in so many ways the same…the Community Director.




This graphic from Ogilvy details the 7 skills of a community director as detailed by Caggiano and Kelly, which is a career path that I best understand to be a community manager with a really productive growth hormone. Whether this is where the future of community management, or, ummm, community directorship, will take is remains to be seen, but the fact remains that the future of community [insert productive noun here] remains bright.