What makes a good community manager?

May 8th, 2009

Community manager at work One point from the Q&A roundup from Marketing Now bears deeper exploration: Online communities require investment in people.

Technology is necessary, and beneficial. But it’s only the beginning.

Nothing will happen if you set up an online community platform and expect a community to form and manage itself.

In 2008 the Tribalization of Business survey found that this was the case – businesses were spending up to a million dollars on community platforms that were then becoming ghost towns.

It’s not because the concept isn’t valid; it’s that the job has been half done.

Communities, movements, any collection of people for a purpose, happens because someone makes an effort.

So what skills are required? In our years of observing and participating in this space, we believe a good community manager is like a:

  • Magazine editor , who pulls together information from various sources and makes it easy-to-consume.
  • Orchestra conductor , who brings the best out of a group of diverse people.
  • Counsellor , who listens to people and helps them solve their own problems.
  • Improv actor , who uses the situation at hand to create a completely new experience with his audience.
  • Parent , making sure that no child is left behind, and that everyone treats each other well.
  • Exploration leader, taking the community down new and exciting paths.
  • Publican , whose job is to provide a convivial environment for conversation and entertainment, with the minimum of distraction.

Any I’ve missed?

(Thanks to Chris for publishing his photos under a Creative Commons licence!)

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  • W
    Beautifully summarised Simon - I think another could 'the educator or facilitator' - the skill to identify if/what possible connections exist and then facilitate the process towards greater understanding.
  • Excellent point! Thanks Tom.
  • Great list!

    For me, I'd add "Cheerleader" to the list. My community involves a lot of positive affirmation and encouragement to share stories and pictures of their creations.
  • Good point! Pom-poms optional, I assume? ;)
  • Artist - to add the x factor that makes the content interesting and something that people want to read.
  • Yes indeed! Good addition, Suzanne.
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