So you want a community manager, huh?

What does a community manager do?

Gavin picked up an old post of mine with some great questions.

Gavin:  Jye and all,  I picked this post up through my paper.li today and was intrigued to discover what these ‘Community Managers’ actually do and what the communities they manage are.  I’m afraid I’m still at a loss.  Perhaps someone can enlighten me a bit more?

Jye: People who look after your social media profiles and interact with the community as and when needed. They act as the mouth piece, the peace keeper and the facilitator between an organisation and their customers and stake holders.

G: I imagine for many organisations (I can think of my own, for example) this is managed in house, but for those who are smaller or may not have the capability or the time to manage their own brand they will need someone else to do it?

J: Yes, I think both models work – in-house and agency.  The advantage of the agency model is you may be able to tap into wider communications experience (issues and crisis management, demographic experience etc.).  As long as the price does not exceed the return, then it’s a strong model.

G: Are these roles normally provided by Agencies for third parties as part of a full service, experience?

J: Yep – we’re seeing more and more of them.  I set them up at my previous agency and at the one I’m working for now.

G: What about those who can’t afford that, are there people who offer this as a professional service?

J: I’d assume there would be.  But agencies shouldn’t be mutually exclusive of a cheap rate.

G: What’s the experience for small business when you have a ‘for hire’ consultant doing this for multiple organisations, when you have no other stake in the business? I’m thinking of Jason Fried’s position on the handing off of your organisation’s conversation with the market to others, for example.

I think the experience varies for small business – including agencies as a hole – I’d make sure that whichever agency of individual that was working on community manager – a customer facing role representing the whole brand to a large community – has some stake in the business and is passionate about their clients.  It sounds like a utopia, but I’ve definitely experienced it.

Jye Smith is currently Senior Vice President, Head of Strategy & Operations, Asia Pacific at Weber Shandwick. Ranked in B&Ts 30 Under 30, Jye a regular keynote speaker and workshop facilitator who specialises in digital and social media strategist.

There are 9 comments for this article
  1. Alison Michalk at 9:32 am

    Hi Jye & Gavin – I’d be happy to answer any questions as I’ve been working as a Community Manager for sometime (most recently at Fairfax Digital for 2yrs on Essential Baby) and now I run Quiip, a business that offers outsourced community management & moderation services. We work with a range of public & private sector clients including ad agencies.

    Community management tends to be something CMs are very passionate about so I feel that emotion lends itself to working with any community. They are also an employee (albeit it external) so they are very much invested in the success of the community – perhaps even more so as our job ceases if the community isn’t active! As they work with a team of other CMs at Quiip I also feel they’re a lot more supported in their role than they might be internally.

    It’s always hard to explain the role of CM, it varies so much. There are some great posts out there by @cbensen @blaisegv and @jowyang . I tend to say the essence of the role is balancing the objectives of the business with the needs of the member, and overseeing risks in social media including legal liabilities, brand reputation & user experience risks.

    I also blog about community management issues if it’s of any help/interest to people new to the role.

  2. @DanielaBolzmann via SocialSkoop.com at 6:07 pm

    Great questions and great answers. I can relate to this from both sides as I am a community manager for Symbaloo and I also freelance managing online communities for restaurants and retail in Orange County, CA. I chose to focus on restaurants and retail because I have a strong background in those areas. Because I know these areas well I am able to understand my clients needs and speak in their terms. This is definitely something I suggest to businesses looking for a community manager. Find someone that is passionate and knowledgeable in that field. One of the biggest mistakes I have found is businesses that hire a high school graduate and pay them min wage to manage their Facebook. Just because a person knows how to use facebook with their peers doesn’t mean they know the proper etiquette for a business. Furthermore, the person/s representing your company online should carry the same voice/tone/persona of your brand. For instance, someone with surfer tone and language wouldn’t likely be the right fit for a golf course or hotel (unless it was on a beach with great surf, lol).

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