Over the past decade, social media channels have blossomed into major customer relationship platforms that have completely changed the relationship between businesses and individuals. In recent years, big brands have successfully used social media to humanize the business and shed the cold, "faceless corporation" image. Brands such as Wendy's, Netflix and Denny's have used social media as a bridge between the company and its target audience.
The role of community managers has become crucial over the past few years, as they are the key to build and maintain the connection between a brand and a customer. We'll examine what a community manager is and what qualities and skills are necessary to succeed in this increasingly important position.
What is a community manager?
Community managers serve and represent your customers. They are your first line of defense to ensure your business is providing a product or service that benefits your community. A community manager gathers feedback from customers and acts as a point of communication between consumers and your business.
"A community manager is a liaison between customers, usually online, and the brand," said Shane Green, founder and president of SGEi. "They are the ultimate brand ambassador and insider who stimulates conversations between customers."
Community Manager Appreciation Day is every fourth Monday of January, which is Jan. 27 this year. The day serves to recognize the efforts of community managers to improve the customer experience.
What does a community manager job description look like?
While every business looks for different skills unique to their needs, most community manager job descriptions include the following requirements and responsibilities.
Community manager job requirements
- Past experience as a social media manager or community manager
- Past experience in customer service
- Excellent writing and communication skills
- Extensive knowledge of online marketing channels, processes and funnels
- Hands-on experience launching community initiatives (newsletters, online forums, marketing campaigns, etc.)
- Ability to understand and act on website analytics and key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Bachelor's degree in marketing or a related field (communications, journalism, etc.)
Community manager responsibilities
- Stay up to date with current industry, cultural and tech trends.
- Establish a consistent posting schedule across all social channels.
- Track and grow follower count across all social channels.
- Create and post creative text, image and video content for social media accounts.
- Monitor and respond to comments in a timely manner.
- Build relationships with followers, journalists, influencers and industry professionals.
- Direct customers to the appropriate channels (customer support, sales, etc.).
- Coordinate campaigns with marketing, communications and PR teams.
- Coordinate product launches with the development and sales teams.
- Track and measure social media analytics.
- Identify new online channels to build a presence on.
The ideal candidate for a community manager position should be a "people person" who has the ability to moderate and appropriately respond to both online and offline conversations. A community manager is often the face or voice of a brand, making this position crucial to the success of a business's marketing efforts.
One of the most important things a hiring manager should look for in a community manager is excellent verbal and written communication skills. Consumers increasingly judge a brand based by its online presence, and a brand account that regularly publishes posts with typos, neglects comments or, worse, responds poorly to users can expect to lose followers, which may impact the bottom line.
It's important to note that community managers must work closely with other departments, so hiring managers often look for individuals with experience in PR, marketing or even sales. Past experience in one of these departments isn't mandatory for most companies, but a candidate who can demonstrate their knowledge of these fields will rise to the top of the list.
At the time of this writing, the average base pay salary for a community manager in the United States is roughly $46,000. For comparison, a social media manager can expect an average base pay of $50,000.
The 3 best qualities every community manager needs
These employees have a critical role in a company, and it's important to hire a community manager who appropriately represents the members. Business.com spoke with community managers, including our own, to learn what qualities and skills successful community managers possess.
1. Great communication skills
All community managers should have excellent communication skills. They need to be skilled at initiating and holding conversations in person and online.
"As an online community manager, it can be easy to become more comfortable behind a computer screen, where you have time to think through each response," said Taylor Perras, community manager at business.com. "But it is just as important to have confidence in public speaking."
Jonathan Bass, content marketing manager at RevenueWell, agrees that communication is key, because community managers need to advocate for the brand to customers and for customers to the brand. "Almost like a double agent," he added.
In addition to sparking online conversations, community managers should be skilled networkers who can build their company's community.
"The more people they can reach out and touch, the more prospective brand advocates they can reel in," said Bass. "Networking is also important to see what works in other communities and how it can be implemented in their given space."
2. Creative and analytical thinking
"Being a creative and analytical thinker will get you far in this role," Perras said. "Creativity [is essential], because you'll need to come up with new, original ways to engage members."
Being rational, Perras added, is also critical, "because you'll need to understand why engagement strategies did or didn't work."
Community managers need to effectively listen and interpret what people are saying about the brand. Once they understand what the community wants, they can effectively communicate that sentiment to other team members. This allows a company to stay nimble and respond to emerging concerns as they happen.
"They must understand their customers and what is expected of the brand," Green said. "They must also be able to translate customer feedback, data, and sentiment into stories and digestible overviews for every level of the organization."
3. Understanding of community etiquette and respect
Along with effectively striking up conversations, community managers should understand social media platforms and online community etiquette.
"Because they have such a strong online presence, their community networking skills and familiarity with social media etiquette and nuances are important," Green said.
To community members, community managers are usually the face of the company, so it's important to be respectful and gain the trust of members.
"Show empathy, stay knowledgeable, prove to be genuine, be timely in your responses," Perras said. "These and other skills are key to developing meaningful connections with your community members."
Good community managers have a hand in everything from market research to brand development, Perras said. Bass agrees, adding that community managers are typically jacks of all trades.
"A great community manager can walk into nearly any meeting in an office and carry weight," he said. "They are inside the brain of the customer and use that knowledge to help drive a brand forward."
Saige Driver contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.