The advent of social media completely changed the dynamic of how companies communicate and connect with their audiences.
So much so, that businesses began to hire professionals dedicated to communicating, managing, and adapting their brand message to this new, constantly connected audience.
However, despite brands understanding they need someone to fulfill the community manager role, there’s still no general consensus on how to define it, the skill set required, and the various tasks they’ll be assigned.
Which leaves many people scratching their heads and wondering, what is a community manager?
This guide is our attempt at:
- Defining the community manager role.
- What a community manager does.
- Looking at the required skills.
- How to become a community manager.
- An extensive list of social media tools.
Table of Content
- What is a Community Manager?
- What does a Community Manager do?
- Community Manager Job Description
- Community Manager Salary
- How to Become a Community Manager
- What Skills and Attributes are Needed?
- Community Manager Tools
- Want to Become a Community Manager?
What is a Community Manager?
“A community manager is responsible for building, maintaining, and protecting digital relations between brands and their consumers.”
They’re typically members of the marketing team, but possess a vast knowledge of the entire organization. This includes product development, organizational structure, main competitors, brand voice, long-term strategies, needs, as well as the primary interests of consumers.
Essentially, they are the liaisons between brands and consumers.
What does a Community Manager do?
As we’ve just established, community managers are responsible for building and maintaining brand relations.
To that end, one of the most common tasks they’ll engage in is communicating with consumers on a variety of different platforms, including social media channels, forums, internal communities (such as ThePowerMBA’s student community), Whatsapp, Slack, live events, and much, much more.
Another important function of a community manager is customer service. They’ll often be responding to complaints, claims, requests, and general concerns from the community.
Having a good set of ears also comes in handy, as listening closely across a brand’s networks helps stay on top of customer concerns and consequently, potential brand crises.
We do live in an age where a single Tweet can destroy a brand’s reputation…so rightly or wrongly, customers can never be ignored!
Anyway, let’s take a quick look at some of the daily, weekly, and monthly tasks of community managers.
Some of the daily tasks community managers work through include:
- Reviewing and replying to comments left on social networks.
- Interacting with community members on internal platforms.
- Encourage user debate with recently published content.
- Gathering and recording customer feedback.
- Creating relevant and engaging content.
A few of the weekly tasks a community manager will get through include:
- Brainstorm content ideas for posts that week (both social media and blog posts). It has to be original content that adds value to their community.
- In some cases, community managers might be responsible for curating high-quality content as laid out in the editorial calendar.
- Track the performance of posts, monitoring engagement levels. This is done by reviewing the number of “likes”, saves, comments, as well as the number of impressions each post had.
- Social listening – monitor what’s being said about the company to mitigate the risks of any crisis event.
Finally, a quick look at some of the typical monthly tasks of a community manager:
- Attend live events with customers.
- Prepare the editorial calendar based on previously defined objectives as per the long-term strategy. For example, upload 3 posts a week with “x” characteristics.
- Comprehensive competitor analysis.
- Definition (and revision) of KPIs (key performance indicators).
Community Manager Job Description
Along with community management, employers generally look for experience in social media management, content creation, PR, and customer service.
We’ve gone through various job listings to give you a thorough idea of exactly what to expect:
- Monitor online conversations relating to our brand
- Initiate and participate in online discussions.
- Respond to our community’s questions and comments quickly, and professionally.
- Create and publish content engaging content across our social media channels.
- Build relationships with bloggers and influencers active within our sector.
- Encourage debate in our online forums.
- You’ll be a brand ambassador without acting as a corporate spokesperson.
- Attract existing customers and new members to join our community and actively contribute to the discussion.
- Conduct surveys to gauge community member interest in current content and discussions.
- Assist our event management team in organizing both online, and offline events for active community members.
- Define, maintain, and execute the community plan.
- Network with other community managers outside of the organization, to stay current with the latest industry developments.
Community Manager Salary
Of course, this number is going to vary between the city you live in, the industry you work in, and the country you reside in.
For example, New York, London, and Paris are likely to offer higher salaries than St. Louis, Norwich, and Marseille to compensate for the disparity in living costs.
With that said, after analyzing the community manager position with the help of the Economic Research Institute, we managed to get a median community manager salary for a handful of different countries.
Feel free to use the above-linked ERI salary tool to get a more accurate picture of your local city/industry.
How to Become a Community Manager
As you can see from the job description above, community managers are required to don many different hats.
Some companies will be heavily focused on social media, encouraging community managers to create and share relevant content with their audience, and develop with their followers.
Other brands might be more interested in their community managers engaging local communities in real-life events (though COVID has pretty much put a stop to that 😥).
It’s not surprising to hear then that the paths community managers take to landing the role can be different, too.
Community managers have backgrounds in journalism, finance, law, engineering, product development, sales…you name it.
This is fantastic news if you’re looking to move into the role because being successful as a community manager requires mastering a series of soft skills, rather than obtaining a specific degree. Ultimately, it’s a customer service-based role, and therefore the ability to listen, respond, and demonstrate empathy goes a long way to building lasting relationships with consumers.
It’s also not necessary to have prior work experience as a community manager. You can start by working on your own personal brand, and experiment with different communication channels.
For example, you might have a background in swimming, triathlon, or personal training. You could try leveraging social media to provide relevant, useful content to people wanting stroke technique advice or exercises to help improve their running form.
Once you’ve gained some traction (and with a little patience, you will!) and influence on social networks, you will be a much more tempting profile for any brand looking to hire a community manager.
Additionally, it helps to keep abreast of any changes happening within the industry. To do this, you should subscribe to influential digital marketing blogs, take updated courses, download social media eBooks, listen to podcasts, attend industry webinars, events with colleagues in the profession, join forums and groups, etc.
As you will see, you must be a fairly restless and proactive individual!
That being said, there are some superb online programs available now (such as ThePowerMBA Digital Marketing) that massively help professionals transition into a more online marketing, community management role.
This knowledge will certainly give you a leg up over other candidates.
What Skills and Attributes are Needed?
Despite popular opinion, community management isn’t merely about managing a few profiles on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Rather, it requires the mastery of certain soft skills
Community managers have to plan out, develop, and implement strategies for each of the individual social platforms they wish to be active on.
They could also be heavily involved in content curation, posting, live events, and webinars, etc. There’s a lot going on, and the position requires someone with a LOT of discipline, organization, and time management skills.
Industries are constantly changing, with new ideas, strategies, and models being implemented and tested on a weekly basis. There are going to be a lot of topics up for discussion within your community.
For you to be able to moderate, direct, and encourage this engagement you’re going to have to be abreast of what’s going on. That’s why the position favors the naturally curious types who like to have their finger on the pulse.
Whether dealing with a potential crisis situation, answering comments, or following a debate in an online forum, communication is going to be key.
Additionally, all curated content uploaded to the community must clearly convey the desired message, values, and brand voice and of course, be error-free!
Passion is contagious, and even more so in an online community environment.
If the community manager can transmit that across their platforms, they’ll find enthusiasm spread throughout the community. Debates become more and more lively, with people increasingly getting involved in discussion.
We live in a world saturated with information (and disinformation…) making it crucial to check, double-check, and triple-check the authenticity of your content before hitting the publish button.
This is especially true if quoting statistics or comments from industry experts.
It also ties in with what we said earlier about proactivity. Community managers should always be on the lookout for key events, announcements, and other industry-related news that could be of interest to the community.
Community managers are often responsible for curating and uploading content to different platforms.
This is going to require you to get creative in coming up with new ideas for content such as infographics, short guides, and potentially videos that can be shared on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.
High-quality content can generate good engagement within the community.
All content published on social networks and other communication channels has to be carefully analyzed.
This way, community managers have a great idea of which formats resonate best with consumers, the best times to publish, as well as the most interesting topics to cover.
Effective analysis means decisions can be more objective, backed by data, and hopefully lead to better engagement within the community.
Managing a community isn’t always going to be easy!
Sometimes people will be angry at some of the decisions made by the brand, maybe the publishing of content they feel is controversial or offensive…
What’s important is that community managers keep a calm head when responding and dealing with a potentially tricky situation.
Also, flexibility is essential in the sense that social media never rests. It’s a 24/7 round-the-clock beast that can sometimes mean community managers are required to work outside of traditional working hours.
A brand community isn’t created overnight. It takes a lot of hard work, persistence, and above all time before members begin to see the value your brand brings.
Therefore, community managers must remain patient and not get discouraged when they don’t see an immediate uptick in results.
Arguably the most important trait of community managers is empathy. In other words, someone capable of putting themselves in customers’ shoes and assess their needs accordingly.
Empathy will also help community managers when responding to customers. They’ll better understand how to communicate the brand’s values effectively to the audience
Community Manager Tools
To finish off, we’ll run through some of the key social media management tools community managers should be aware of.
They’ll help with everything from monitoring social networks, curating content, answering customers, and analyzing the performance of your most effective content.
If you’ve spent any time at all working in social media then in all likelihood you will have come across Hootsuite.
It’s the industry standard-bearer for managing various social networks and profiles simultaneously.
It’s incredibly intuitive, and one of the easiest to use platforms you can get your hands on.
The tool’s strongest features include planning, publishing, and monitoring posts as well as the performance of advertising and digital marketing campaigns.
Probably the most popular alternative to Hootsuite, Sprout Social is even easier on the eyes and includes all the typical features of social media analytics tools: planning, scheduling, campaign analysis, aggregate post feed, etc.
Social Sprout also allows users to reply to incoming messages directly through the tool.
While its customizable reports are good and certainly give you insight into the effectiveness of your campaigns, we feel Hootsuite has a slight edge when it comes to the depth of analysis.
Think of TweetDeck as a global dashboard or timeline of all your followers’ tweets.
It’s a fantastic tool for keeping track of everything that’s going on related to your brand, industry, but most importantly your community.
TweetDeck allows you to view selected tweets, retweets, and keywords in customized streams all from that easy-to-read dashboard.
This means that as soon as something relevant pops out related to your brand you can react immediately. Whether that’s a negative brand mention, a retweeted blog post, or a general industry-related question.
Another great feature is the flexibility in which you’re able to organize your dashboard columns. You can set it up to monitor brand mentions, hashtags, followers, etc.
Honestly, one of the best tools out there for monitoring and building your brand community.
Brand 24 is a tool that allows you to monitor all the information being published about a brand, as well as keep a close eye on what your competitors are up to.
This allows you to react quickly to comments or respond to a dissatisfied customer instantly before the situation escalates and gets out of control.
With Buffer, you can upload and schedule publications to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
It also makes possible the analysis of the statistics on the interaction and the monitoring of the accounts.
There’s also a really handy graphic creation tool (called Pablo if I remember correctly) that’s perfect for touching up posts before scheduling.
Ok, it might not be Photoshop, but Canva is a handy little design that’s saved many a community manager’s life when a last-minute post needs a dash of creativity.
The platform’s primary strength has to be its out-of-the-box templates. Community managers have access to a variety of pre-sized Facebook banners, cover photos, Instagram story templates, YouTube banners – almost any network format imaginable.
What’s more, these templates can be customized quickly and easily. It doesn’t require you to have years of experience operating Adobe suite to navigate the platform.
Adobe Spark is the easy-to-use, graphic, and video design platform brought to us by the creators of Photoshop, Indesign, and Illustrator.
Like Canva, it comes with ready-made templates for nearly all social networks, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter cover photos, Instagram and Facebook ads, Pinterest boards, etc.
Spark also allows community managers to produce an image slideshow that renders it into a short video. Once parameters are set out within the template, users are prompted to upload their images and layer voice and sound over the slideshow to create a short, interactive video.
Animoto lets community managers create professional-looking videos quickly and easily.
It has a subcategory labeled “marketing” that’s extremely useful for companies, allowing marketers to easily create videos, image carousels, and slide shows, all with custom templates for different social channels.
There’s also an extensive library of both video and audio content that can be used to generate ideas for new posts or used directly within your content.
Videos are uploaded directly to your social media channels without having to be exported to your hard drive.
Remember earlier in the post where we mentioned how important it is to remain organized as a community manager?
Trello is absolutely perfect for this.
This free tool helps you organize your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks using the Kanban Board method.
You can create calendars, tasks, and work cards that can be assigned to different members of your team.
Rounding out the list is perhaps one of the more unknown community manager tools in NapoleonCat.
This handy tool collates all social media comments, brand mentions, messages, and reviews in real-time. What’s more, community managers can reply directly to these mentions straight from the dashboard.
Another feature of interest is the performance monitoring of uploaded/shared content. You can identify what’s resonating with your community by comparing likes, shares, comments, and feed this back into your editorial calendar, making adjustments accordingly.
There’s also an auto-reply setting (that we haven’t tried yet) that allows you to program specific responses on social media triggered particular phrases.
Want to Become a Community Manager?
If you are seriously considering a career change and think community management would be a great fit for you, then we highly recommend checking out an online digital marketing course, especially if you’re new to the scene.
Because there’s so much overlap between social media, online marketing, and community management having a 360-degree overview of the key tools, knowledge, and methodologies will give you a huge leg-up over other candidates.
Combine that with a willingness to master the soft skills listed throughout the middle of the guide and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful community manager!