There are more moving parts to starting your own business than deciding to create a website and slapping a “grand opening” banner on the front page. One very important aspect is the communication between the brand and the consumer. In fact, this tends to morph into a job of its own. One that can come with the responsibilities of being part brand evangelist, part sales, part PR, part content creator, part campaign manager, and more. Despite the various roles, there’s one title attributed to the person in charge of these responsibilities, one it’s one that’s becoming increasingly popular today. They are known as the Community Manager.
As mentioned above, the role of a community manager can be a varied one, with responsibilities depending on the needs of the brand. This means it can be hard to pinpoint what the role entails, but don’t worry! Below, we're going to lay out some of the main functions of a community manager and tips on how to become one yourself.
Here are the tips you’ll find below for being a stellar community manager:
Have a creative mind
Think on your toes
Be crafty with content
Keep your attitude in check and stay empathetic
Have a customer support mindset.
What is a community manager?
Due to the broadness of the term, we'll specifically discuss "online" community managers. And in that respect, a community manager is a person who helps build, grow, and maintain a brand's online community. This can be through social media, forums, or other places where the brand's target audience resides.
A community manager speaks on behalf of the brand, which adds some PR into the mix of the role itself. Since much of the communication is on social media, community managers also receive the distinction of being called social media managers as well. Still, a community manager may see a majority of their day on Twitter, Facebook business page and Facebook Groups, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, and more.
In reality, a good community manager is a jack of all trades. They're capable of wearing several hats and know how and when to adjust their content and communication accordingly in any given situation when managing communities.
What does a community manager do, exactly?
So now that you have a notion of what a community manager is, what is it that they actually do? Again, it all has to do with what the brand needs. In general terms, we're going to break down some of the key responsibilities that a community manager may have to perform on any given day.
Community monitoring, moderating, and engagement:
A large part of community management is surveying the landscape and figuring out the appropriate course of action, and this starts with monitoring. From social media feeds to forums and online groups, if the audience is there, the community manager should also be. They'll encourage interaction by responding to comments from the audience, asking questions to maintain or rekindle engagement, and providing customers with the information they're looking for if they need help.
Community managers may also be responsible for creating content and other brand assets for social media, and other outlets. This content can come in the form of images and text for social media posts, blog posts, and shared content from applicable publications. A quick, creative mindset is required for this role as the person responsible will need to be able to deliver fresh and relevant content from conception all the way to posting. Need some inspiration? Take a look at some social media ideas that worked for us and may work for you!
Customer service representative:
Social media is a fantastic place to have a customer support presence for your brand. Why? Well, if someone isn’t happy with a product or your service, they’ll more than likely complain about it on social media rather than go directly to you. This is why you’ll find full-fledged teams that have the sole purpose of providing customer support on social media.
Being present on social media and knowing just what to do and say to fix a customer’s problem (or at least sending them to the right place to get the answer) can help build trust and net you some loyal customers.
This can go hand-in-hand with the tip above. Although most customer service on social media is usually provided when a customer seeks it and tags the brand, social listening works differently. Social listening is a more proactive tactic that requires finding those who are in need of assistance and aren’t specifically reaching out to brands via their social handles. Instead, it involves scanning the social-scape to find where your brand is discussed, but not directly tagged.The social listener can gather valuable data about what people think about your brand and get feedback on your products and services in a very honest, unfiltered way.
Sometimes knowing what not to say is more important than knowing what to say. While guidelines are usually established on what is and isn’t okay to say publically for a brand, it's also your job to think ahead and avoid saying things that could potentially be misinterpreted when the conversation goes off-script. As such a representative for a brand, a community manager needs to be nimble with their words and learn how to maneuver conversations while delivering business-appropriate messaging. This requires them to take on a public relations role in order to ensure that the voice and the tone are communicated properly.
Social analytics expert:
Paid social campaigns can be a big part of building and extending audience reach, which is why they’re popular with brands of all sizes. But how do you measure the success of a campaign and what can you learn from your last ones to improve future efforts? It’s not uncommon to find a community manager analyzing the efforts of past campaigns, and not just the paid ones. Seeing what type of content resonates with your audience and what type of actions are evoked can be very helpful.
How to become a community manager: 6 Tips
Certain jobs you apply for will have their own set of prerequisites necessary for the person to have that will fill an open community manager role. Yet, as you’ve learned, this is a role that’s wide and varied in its responsibilities, so that’s not always the case. These six tips will help you become a thriving community manager.
1. Have a creative mind
No matter what type of community manager role you’re looking to fill, the ability to think creatively will always be welcomed. Whether this comes in the form of bouncing ideas off of your team for social media posts or campaigns, or thinking outside the box to find a solution for a customer, a sharp, creative mind is a must.
2. Live and breathe your brand
As a community manager, you’re not just expected to get the audience excited about the brand you’re representing. You’re expected to be one of the biggest evangelists of it as well. You’re seen as the expert of your brand, so be one, and make sure everyone knows it!
3. Think on your toes
Due to the many functions a community manager can have, being adaptable is the only way to keep up sometimes. The ability to change not only roles, but mindsets, is a must. This quick action is especially helpful given how much of a public-facing job this is. A good community manager can go from a customer service representative to a PR spokesperson without skipping a beat. A great one can do it without you even noticing.
4. Be crafty with content
Whether it’s crafting the perfect 280-character Tweet, starting a YouTube channel for your brand or going all-in on the day’s Instagram Story, it’s important to become familiar with the concept of creating and working across all sorts of content. It’s also important to have an eye for what content does and doesn’t work, and to vocalize your opinion.
5. Keep your attitude in check and stay empathetic
Just like the real world, the internet is filled with trolls, bullies, and naysayers. As a community manager that spends a majority of their time online, it would be silly to assume that every person you interact with is going to be all sunshine and rainbows.
From customer complaints to full-on PR damage control if needed, it’s important to interact and communicate with a clear, level head, as well as not to take things personally. Dealing with difficult customers is an art form of its own. Yet, no matter the situation, a community manager must always show empathy for the person and situation.
6. Have a customer service mindset
Being a community manager isn’t just about commenting on social networks all day. It’s about connecting with your audience on a very real level, then helping out when they’re in need. Therefore, having a customer service background or mindset will get you far, as your brand wouldn’t be anything without its customers.