Community Manager: The New, Hot Job For Those Who Love People.
July 7th 2022
Community Manager: Where Did This Profession Come About?
Community Manager. This job requires quite a specific set of skills (more on that later in this article!). However, if you can meet the criteria, this choice can lead to a highly rewarding career. So, what does Community Manager even mean?
Officially, Community Manager means “the liaison between a brand and its followers on social media.” No wonder the trend for hiring a person who is assigned specifically to communicate with the clients and followers on the team, was born in the early days of social media — in the 2000s when Facebook, YouTube, and other leading social media platforms kicked off.
The startup culture naturally adopted community management as part of the game. After all, every startup needs a proper hustler. Plus, community building is a natural way of building a brand and scaling the business — usually much cheaper than paid online ads. No wonder that within a few years, all reputable businesses incorporated teams of Community Managers into their operations.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Typical Community Manager?
First, there is nothing like a “typical” Community Manager. All Community Managers wear many hats and rotate tasks from day to day. Every Community Manager needs to flexibly follow the current demand in the project they represent and adapt every day. Every position is different — a Community Manager at a “company A” or “community A” might have a different day-to-day routine than someone working at “Company B” or “community B.”
Just as the name states, a Community Manager will be appointed to any task that involves a community. You might be asked to promote brand awareness, manage Public Relations campaigns, create (social) media content, moderate chat rooms or online forums, communicate with the users, organize and moderate events, maintain social media presence, acknowledge the customer base, or other things of that nature.
In most cases, your scope of responsibilities and the nature of your job as a Community Manager will greatly depend on the kind of community you will be asked to manage if hired. Not all communities are active online — but since we are online here, we will be focusing on online communities.
The first type of online Community Manager would be a Social Media Manager. There are big companies that have taken great leaps in connecting with their audience. An example would be Wendy’s Twitter which has embraced meme culture and poked fun at its competition for the entertainment of its Twitter community. It is a unique form of community management and possibly the easiest for young people familiar with social media.
Another kind of Community Manager would be a Forum Moderator. Typically, online forums and groups on Facebook/LinkedIn/Slack/Discord/Telegram/Reddit and other online platforms develop active online communities around a niche topic like gaming or technology. A Community Manager in this scenario would learn about the topic of conversation to participate in and facilitate community conversation.
When it comes to online forums, there are inevitably some bad apples in the bunch — trolls only looking to cause mayhem. And with the bad apple, the Community Manager would be in the position to decide what level of punishment to dish out. Many forums can suspend a user for a while or ban them.
Of course, these are just examples. In reality, especially in the startup culture, a Community Manager typically needs to take all the community-related tasks on their chest.
The Features of Top Community Managers.
How to start your career and build your professional development plan as a Community Manager? Well, the good news is that there is currently such a high demand for Community Managers that you don’t need any form of higher education to start. Of course, studies or courses in Media or Media Design would be helpful but are not a requirement.
Having that said, you might think that working as a Community Manager is easy. Nothing could be further from the truth! It is a complex job that requires many levels of competence. Let’s review the top 10 skills and traits that Community Managers need to represent:
1. Communication Skills.
First and foremost, the most important skills necessary to succeed in becoming a pro Community Manager, are communication skills — whether talking to a community and representing a brand carefully yet fun or talking to a coworker or supervisor about the work that needs to be finished before the deadline. As a Community Manager, you need to be able to vocalize your thoughts promptly and succinctly, changing the tone depending on the circumstances.
The ability to type fast and learn subject-specific jargon is also most welcome. As a Community Manager, you need to understand what your audience is talking about. For instance, in crypto- and NFT communities, the word “degen” typically means a degenerate trader who thoughtlessly follows the trends and influencers in their trading decisions, and risks way too much.
Lawyers worldwide developed the whole informal jargon language called lawyerese. It contains terms such as “fishing expedition” (to describe the non-specific search for incriminating information) or a “Kangaroo court” (to describe a court that ignores recognized standards of law or justice).
Corporate employees developed their jargon as well. It includes terms such as “land and expands” (meaning, to sell a small solution to a client with the goal of upselling in the future”) or a “cubicle farm” (meaning, a section of a workplace that contains many cubicle workstations).
If you embark on the path of community management and you have any trouble understanding your audience’s jargon, Urban Dictionary usually can help you!
Of course, emojis and memes are also popular online. As a Community Manager, you need to know the most iconic memes and the most popular emojis and emoticons that are currently in use. Please check out our article “Emojis in the Workplace AD 2022: Hot or Not?” for more information about the principles of using emojis and emoticons at work.
In addition to this, online communities are quite good at creating their own, local neologisms and new language and thought shortcuts. So, you need to stay on top of things, observe how your community members speak to each other, and keep on learning.
Of course, diplomacy, the ability to understand different points of view and solve conflicts, require empathy. As a Community Manager, you need to be able to naturally mimic other people’s tones, and develop a genuine interest in people coming from various cultures. If you are naturally empathic, please also check out our article “7 Amazing Careers For Empathic People.”
Community management requires constant contact with people. This implies that as a Community Manager, you should be the type of person who, in general, accumulates rather than spends energy in presence of others — namely, as an extravert.
So, are you an extrovert? You can check that hypothesis, e.g., by taking a personality test based on the “Big Five”, or, the OCEAN model. If it turns out that you are an introvert rather than an extrovert, there is a wide range of attractive careers you can consider instead – some of them listed in our recent article “Top 23 Careers For Introvert Persons.”
4. Multitasking / Time Management.
A good Community Manager needs to have an excellent sense of time management. While some community management jobs are very lenient about the amount of work or time to complete the agreed tasks, this is not typical and should generally not be expected unless told otherwise by an employer.
In most cases, you can assume that for at least a part of your day, you will be pressed to multitask to fulfil all your duties. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, it is better to develop self-knowledge and functional self-management strategies way before you decide to embark on this journey. Multitasking and time management should be part of your personal development.
5. Business Intelligence.
Community Managers should have a natural understanding of online business to be able to develop a functional online community. As an example, they need to understand the importance of engagement. Passive follows required via airdrops or paid ads do not mean real users but rather, dead likes.
The Community Manager also has a larger impact on the business side of the project than one might think. Every person coming to the community is a potential client, an investor, or a strategic partner. Community Managers need to be well informed on the current and future business operations in the project to know how to streamline people in the community, and how to make the best out of the coming possibilities.
As mentioned before, a Community Manager needs to adapt daily. Sometimes, a troll will spoil your day. Sometimes a brand comes under fire for some reason and you will have to be quick on your toes, take over the Public Relations and find out what happened and how to respond. And sometimes, the whole market sector breaks down and you need to think about whether you should stay in the same market niche or branch out to something else.
Being creative is also a great asset. For example, if you know how to edit videos, you can take the initiative and capture great moments from your project and deliver them directly to your customers’ eyes via the power of the Internet. Since there is no real one specific thing a Community Manager does, you can be a jack of all trades and try multiple means of communication. Most project leaders — especially in the startup culture — will encourage and support such an open and creative attitude to work.
Well, it is hard to become a pro if you know nothing about the market sector that your employer represents. This job will require learning and updating your knowledge about the latest developments in your field. Any good Community Manager is well informed!
Therefore, you need to find a discipline that you naturally enjoy and have a natural interest in. If you spend your free time procrastination, watching, and reading online materials on a given topic, it certainly is a good sign!
9. Understanding Culture and Sentiment.
Any good community Manager should also understand the basics of today’s culture and the general socio-economical situation. If you are a weirdo who never watches new movies, is not interested in pop music, doesn’t know what brands such as ”Marvel” or “Billie Eilish” mean, or doesn’t understand that we are going through a recession right now, you will have a hard time engaging your audience in a conversation.
10. Sense of Humor.
Lastly, a sense of humour is not obligatory, yet a very helpful element of community management. Your community members will highly enjoy engaging with a manager who is chatty, and witty, and casts clever jokes and punch lines. People search for banter and good emotions online — and, a community run by someone who doesn’t take life too seriously is a great way to relax and recharge after working hours.
Are you suitable to become a Community Manager? If you think of embarking on this career path, you should ask yourself whether you are a type of a Linchpin — someone who has a natural talent for building communities. Not sure if you are one? Check our Ontology of Value Test and find out!
Plus, if you wish to update your professional development plan and dive deeper into community management and become an expert in what it takes to be a great community manager, please take a look at this page, summarizing the top 50 skills necessary to become a pro Community Manager, including Content, Technical, Business, Engagement, and Strategic skills.
How To Start?
There are a few ways in which you can start working as a Community Manager. Obviously, since this type of job is heavily dependent on personal recommendations, the best way to start is via networking: attending online and offline events, asking around, following creators that you admire and knocking at their door in person. You might be surprised by how many CEOs and serious content creators actually respond to personal messages!
Of course, you are also free to respond to open job offers on LinkedIn and other platforms. As of July 2022, LinkedIn displays over 100,000 Community Manager jobs in the US alone! However, the success rate is always lower than in the case of networking face-to-face.
Perks of Working as a Community Manager. How Much Can You Earn As a Community Manager?
If the job of a Community Manager is so hectic and requires so many skills, why are so many professionals interested in this type of position these days?
Well, there are at least a few solid perks of working as a Community Manager! To name just a few:
1. Personal Freedom.
A great majority of community manager jobs available are online positions for online communities. That likely means a remote job for you! As a Community Manager, you can live wherever you want. That means no office!
Furthermore, you can choose projects and people whom you are willing to work with. At the end of the day, if you don’t resonate with the leaders of the project, it is better for everyone if you just carry on. In that sense, you will never be dependent on a dysfunctional team or dysfunctional boss.
2. Interesting People on the Way.
If you love meeting new people, this job will be like never-ending Christmas for you! The Internet is like the Babel Tower and as a Community Manager, you can stand at the gateway, shaking everyone’s hands. If you have a relational way of building your career (which is highly functional in today’s professional world), the network gained via your job can serve you for a (professional) lifetime.
Of course, you need to take care of your contacts and make sure that they don’t stay anonymous avatars somewhere on Telegram or Discord, but rather, that you contact them via various channels and fork out your relations to daily life at some point.
3. Well-Informed and On Top of Their Field / Paid For Learning.
Dealing with a lot of people and staying close to the project leaders causes you to be one of the people on top of the pecking order when it comes to sharing valuable and potentially profitable information. This might mean that next to your salary, you will be able to get additional benefits associated with being in the know.
Furthermore, Community Management is one of the jobs in which you are literally paid for learning. You need to stay on top of your field and in that sense, you keep on building your professional skills while building your portfolio as a Community Manager. If you were dreaming of having a job that pays you for studying, it might be the right one!
4. Competitive Salaries (If You Self-Manage Well!).
Most online Community Managers work in the “fluid” areas of the market, namely, in the developing fields where there are no standards for how much you “should” be paid. This is why salaries are on a spectrum. According to Glassdoor, the median salary for Community Managers in the US equals $52,197 per year + an average of $21,588 in additional pay such as cash bonus, commission, tips, and profit-sharing.
But this is not the full picture as many projects, especially those operating in new, speculative markets, mostly pay their Community Managers via commissions, or in shares and tokens only. If you prefer to get a “traditional” salary as a Community Manager, you need to lean towards one of the established market sectors such as large IT, pharma, or manufacturing companies with tradition.
Furthermore, since many projects decide to remotely hire professionals working from developing countries, some Community Manager jobs offer low pay given the Western standards. However, today, many startups need a strong Community Manager so badly and are so invested in building a brand that they are willing to pay a premium for quality in that department.
This is also why, throughout your career as a Community Manager, it is better to choose to work for good brands and people with strong personal brands and make sure that they give you good recommendations — so that in the end, you end up in the highest tire of established Community Managers working with high-ticket clients only.
5. Good Start Into a Career in Entrepreneurship.
Every startup needs a skilled hustler — someone who inspires the audience, rises the hype around the project and helps in scaling by increasing brand awareness and engagement. So, if you become a first-class Community Manager with lots of contacts, you will likely get invites to join startups as a co-founder.
Of course, you need to be picky and self-protective when it comes to embarking on such an adventure. But, if you have ever dreamt of building the next world-changing solution or platform, perhaps, working as a Community Manager is a good starting point.
What To Pay Attention To Working As a Community Manager? Pitfalls of Community Management.
Of course, just as with any job in the world, Community Management is also associated with some pitfalls.
1. Sense of Void.
As a Community Manager, you propagate someone else’s ideas and solutions. Do you feel comfortable knowing that you are the vehicle to ship value produced by someone else? If you don’t ask yourself whether you resonate with the mission of the project often enough, you might experience a sense of void or even burnout.
2. Your Mental Health Is Jeopardized.
Community Management requires grinding every day, often without weekends or vacations for long periods of time. You also work with people operating in different time zones, which can completely deregulate your daily routine.
For these reasons, in the long term, your mental health is endangered. As a Community Manager, you need to constantly monitor yourself and react if you notice any signs of apathy or lowered mood.
3. Take Care of Your Personal Brand.
Many Community Managers are so busy filling their daily duties that they don’t find any time to promote themselves online. They forget about their own social media on behalf of the project they represent and don’t convey their own life- and professional mission to the public.
Don’t make this mistake! You need to find at least a quarter of an hour per day to present yourself online and raise awareness that you even exist and have something to say outside of your project. You should work on your personal development in parallel. No matter how tired you are after the working day.
4. Take Care of Your Personal Network.
A career as a Community Manager is a bit like an Odyssey — a never-ending journey through projects, communities, and concepts. As mentioned before, you need to grow your network on the way like a snowball. Remember to collect and store all your pivotal or potentially useful contacts as well as collect recommendations along the way.
Furthermore, a Community Manager is, unfortunately, only as good as their previous employers like to communication. Therefore, carefully choose employers with a proper reputation and contacts, and those who are, generally, good with people.
5. Don’t Be a Loser.
Since starting a career in community management requires collecting recommendations, lots of people will try to use your precious time and your service to their advantage. You can prepare that in many new and exciting projects, the leaders will try to feed on your enthusiasm and lack of experience, and you will be paid nothing unless you actively ask for it.
So, do ask to be paid as soon as you possibly can. Every project has SOMETHING to give away — if not cash, then shares, tokens, merchandise, or whatever else they produce. If they say that they can pay you nothing at all, it is just not true and you should stay away.
Content Creator or a Community Manager? — The Career Dilemma of the Many
Many young people consider the dilemma: shall become a Content Creator or a Community Manager? While a Content Creator is like an artist, a Community Manager needs to become more of a craftsman with lots of horsepower and discipline to check in at the office every single day. Of course, it is hard to become both at a time!
In our culture, Content Creators are worshipped, but is this the best path to success? We recently launched an open poll via LinkedIn and asked our audience which of the two tracks leads to more success in the long term. Interestingly, the voters pointed to community management as the activity with the most potential for personal growth! It sounds like there is hope for people who tirelessly work on projects behind the scenes.
In fact, to thrive with your project, you will need to build both culture and community at a time. Your culture is like gas in the room, and your community is the room. When you want to monetize inhaling your gas, you need to first invite people to a room, close the door and put a pimp at the door to collect the money. The content Creator creates the culture and the Community Manager creates the community.
Therefore, to build a functional project, you need both. You need a Content Creator who will create the Intellectual Property for the project AND a Community Manager who will spread the word, find and inspire users of followers to come on board, get engaged, and invest their time in the project. And indeed, the Internet is already full of Content Creators of all kinds. It is Community Managers who are currently in demand.
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