We get it: no one likes to put labels on things. (Though… that is your girlfriend, right?) But it’s pretty important to define the important role of community manager on your marketing team.
Community managers are the all-stars responsible for fostering engagement, building relationships, and maintaining the integrity of online communities.
In the mile-a-minute world of social media, they are the crucial bridge between brands and audiences.
And while community management may not always be the easiest task, it’s an impactful one that brings value both to brands and the people who love ‘em.
So it’s time to clearly define, explore, and, yeah, celebrate the humble community manager label. Today, we’re breaking down exactly what a community manager does (and how they differ from social media managers), and what the future holds for this thrill-a-minute position.
What is a community manager?
A community manager is the caretaker of a brand’s online presence, the “digital custodian,” if you will.
Community managers are responsible for curating and nurturing communities around a brand, product, or cause. They’re the party hosts with the most, there to strategically make sure everyone’s having a good time.
If you’re here on this social media strategy blog, you’re probably most interested in community management for platforms (like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter/X), but online communities can also live on forums or blogs.
Wherever your fan community hangs online, a skilled community manager understands the interests and needs of that community, engages with members, and ensures that it remains a positive and productive space. In other words, community managers are guardians of the vibe.
What does a community manager do?
A community manager is in charge of responding to comments and DMs on social media. They’ll provide answers to questions and offer customer support.
They may also be proactive about fostering a sense of community on a social media platform: crafting content that prompts responses or conversations, coordinating contests, or producing other interactive content.
The goal, overall, is to build both the engagement rate and your customer loyalty. (No pressure.)
The less fun aspect of the job is moderating and dealing with any issues or troublemaking trolls — in a polite and professional way that upholds your brand’s values, of course.
Community manager vs. social media manager
Community managers and social media managers work side by side to make a brand’s social media presence the best it can be. But their focus is pretty different.
A community manager’s focus is to build relationships within online communities. They create, curate, and moderate content specifically designed to engage followers.
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Community managers answer questions, review comments and DMs, and resolve issues to keep the community vibrant (and ideally harmonious).
On the other hand, a social media manager will concentrate on executing the overall content plan. That means crafting and scheduling posts, advertising, and analyzing metrics to enhance brand awareness on social platforms.
Key skills for community managers
A successful community manager will possess a variety of skill sets, such as…
Are you responsive and talented at expressing the right tone? Are you known for your top-notch communication skills? This might just be the job for you.
You’re gonna be typing up a storm in this role, so the ability to clearly express yourself (and the voice and values of the brand) is absolutely essential.
But communication isn’t just an important skill to have to connect with the community. You should also be able to clearly communicate with the internal team about what exactly is happening online at any given moment.
A community manager doesn’t just spend all day swappin’ memes and running contests. Sometimes, they have to deal with issues and conflicts (uggggh).
Having the ability to problem-solve effectively and efficiently is super important. You’ll have to navigate all sorts of surprising situations with grace and professionalism and be adept at finding solutions that satisfy community members and align with the brand’s values.
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A good community manager is patient and kind. After all, the job really is about being a good pal and making your followers feel both welcome and heard. Understanding the needs, concerns, and emotions of community members is crucial for building trust and rapport.
As important as it is to be a shoulder to cry on, sometimes, a community manager needs to lay down the law.
Without moderation, a comments section can quickly turn into a toxic free-for-all. Strong community management requires a little bit of enforcement — managers need to follow through on any community guidelines and policies to help ensure these online spaces feel welcoming and safe for all their fans.
Some of these “skills” are definitely on the softer side, but having an analytic brain is important for successful community management, too. What’s working? What’s not? How can success be quantified? Community managers should be able to thoughtfully analyze engagement metrics via tools like Hootsuite Analytics in order to refine their strategies and measure their impact.
Community manager job description
Obviously, a community manager’s job description can vary wildly, depending on the industry and company size. That being said, a community manager’s role typically includes responsibilities like:
- Developing and implementing community engagement strategies
- Moderating discussions and content
- Responding to community inquiries and feedback
- Collaborating with marketing and support teams
- Analyzing data to assess community engagement
If you’re creating a community manager job description for a job posting, you might want to seek out a candidate with an education in online marketing or marketing communications, but a degree certainly isn’t necessary for success in this role. It’s more important to find someone who can demonstrate skills like communication, problem-solving, and analytical thinking.
Community manager salary
Like any position, the salary for a community manager varies by location, work experience, and industry. According to Glassdoor, in the United States, entry-level community managers can earn anywhere from $41,000 to $65,000 per year.
Of course, professionals with more experience or those working for large companies could earn even more, with some online community managers on Glassdoor reporting annual salaries of $115,000.
For more details on salaries in the social media marketing industry, including salaries for community management roles, download our Social Media Career Report for 2023.
Community manager performance metrics
To evaluate a community manager’s performance, consider the following metrics:
- Engagement rate (likes, comments, shares)
- Growth in community size
- Response time to community inquiries
- Net promoter score (NPS) from community members
- Sales conventions
Ultimately, a community manager should be evaluated on metrics that align with your brand’s overall social media goals. If growing your community size isn’t important to your business objectives, it doesn’t really make sense to focus your time and attention on racking up the follows, right?
Community manager role over time
Like everything else in the social media landscape (RIP, Nexopia), the role of a community manager has evolved significantly over the past decades.
Initially, the role of a digital community manager was to respond to comments, monitor social channels for negative sentiment, and moderate content. Today, a community manager is expected to practice strategic planning, customer service, and data analysis, too. It’s about going beyond being reactive and being proactive, intentionally encouraging engagement and building loyalty along the way.
We’re at an interesting time in Internet History, with this new influx of accessible AI technology. The future of community management will likely be shaped by this sort of automation. It’s possible chatbot technology will take a big leap forward in the next few years to provide even richer, multi-platform customer support that goes beyond answering FAQs.
But while AI can absolutely assist in data analysis, common questions, and routine tasks, we’re confident that a human touch will remain essential to quality community management. No matter how convincing AI may get, it’ll always take a real person to foster genuine connections and resolve complex issues for your (human!) community.
In the future, it’s likely the role will evolve, and we’ll see community managers handling the bigger-picture ideas. They might use AI to help with more mundane or repetitive community management tasks and spend their time practicing more strategic decision-making and deeper integration with overall business objectives.
But whether they’re working in the trenches or dreaming big, as technology advances, community managers will always continue to find new ways to connect, engage, and create meaningful experiences for their communities. Um, excuse me, are community managers both party hosts and heroes? The facts don’t lie.
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