What is a community manager?
A community manager is a vital link between a business and its audience. They aim to create and maintain a healthy, engaged, and active community around the brand, product, or cause. From fostering relationships with users to giving the organization a human face, these managers are the voice of the business in digital and physical communities alike. They play an invaluable part in shaping the community’s perception of the business and its offerings, encouraging online conversations, and garnering support and enthusiasm for the brand.
Community management is intrinsically connected with social media and online platforms as these are typically hubs where communities congregate. However, the role extends beyond digital boundaries and may involve in-person events and activities. Managers of communities are essential for developing a positive brand image, cultivating customer loyalty, and establishing an engaging and supportive community that aids in the organization’s collective success.
Duties and responsibilities
The primary function of a community manager is to represent the brand, acting as the bridge between the organization and its community. They are responsible for producing and sharing content that resonates with their audience and encourages engagement across multiple platforms. This might include social media posts, blog articles, newsletters, and more.
Aside from content creation, the manager also actively participates in conversations within the community, moderating comments and managing any issues that arise. They often analyze community engagement data to better understand member behavior and tailor strategies that increase interaction and connection. Additionally, they organize and oversee events—virtual or physical—that bring the community closer together, attracting new members and retaining existing ones.
A community manager’s work environment is often versatile and dynamic. Since much of their work revolves around the digital space, many can work remotely from anywhere. They typically spend a considerable portion of their day on social media channels, forums, community platforms, and other digital outlets where their audiences gather and engage. Companies in different sectors employ these professionals, from tech start-ups to large corporations and nonprofit organizations. Some might work as part of a team, while others may be the sole managers of a community.
The position may occasionally require travel, especially if the organization hosts events or the manager needs to meet with community members in person. Overall, the work environment demands adaptability, as they must respond promptly to ever-changing online trends, community sentiments, and potential crises.
Typical work hours
As with many roles centered around social media and online communities, the work hours for a community manager can often transcend the traditional 9-to-5 schedule. While they generally work during normal business hours, they must also remain vigilant outside of these times when the community is active, especially during peak interaction times or in the event of a crisis. Additionally, their responsibilities may call them to attend events or meetings beyond the usual working hours. As such, these professionals must be prepared for a flexible schedule that aligns with the needs and dynamics of the community they manage.
How to become a community manager
Becoming a community manager involves a combination of specific education, hands-on experience, and the development of relevant skills. Here are the steps you must take to achieve your goal:
Step 1: Complete high school education
Typically, your journey starts with completing your high school diploma or equivalent. This foundational education establishes the basis for further learning and skills development.
Step 2: Pursue a bachelor’s degree
Most roles demand a bachelor’s degree, often in marketing, communications, public relations, or business. These programs equip you with crucial knowledge in market research, advertising, consumer psychology, and media, essential in community management.
Step 3: Gain practical experience
Having hands-on experience is critical for success. Consider internships, part-time, or volunteer positions in roles that involve social media management, customer service, content creation, or public relations. This will enhance your resume and give you practical skills and a context to connect your academic learning with the real world.
Step 4: Develop the necessary skills
The role is multifaceted and requires skills beyond academic knowledge. Strong communication, empathy, creativity, a knack for using social media tools, and understanding audience sentiments are some skills you must foster. You could take online courses or workshops focused on enhancing these skills. Here are a few examples:
- Coursera offers a Social Media Management course to help you learn how to create and manage a social media presence while considering your brand, tone, and voice.
- The Strategy of Content Marketing course from Coursera covers how to develop, organize, implement, and analyze a content market strategy.
- Udemy’s The Complete Digital Marketing Guide course will teach you how to conduct market research, website building, the basics of SEO, email marketing, and prompt engineering with ChatGPT.
Step 5: Earn relevant certifications
Certifications in social media management, content marketing, or digital marketing could set you apart in the competitive job market. They not only validate your knowledge and skills but also show your dedication to mastering your profession. HubSpot Academy, Google Digital Garage, and Hootsuite Academy offer well-recognized certifications.
Step 6: Build your online presence
In this role, it is pivotal for you to have a strong online presence. Regularly engage on various social media platforms and your personal blog to build your brand, showcase your creativity, and provide proof of your understanding and skills in managing digital communities.
Step 7: Apply for jobs and prepare for interviews
With the right education, practical experience, skill set, and online presence, you’re ready to apply for jobs. Tailor your resume and cover letter for each application, highlighting your relevant skills and experiences. Once shortlisted, prepare for interviews by familiarizing yourself with common industry questions and preparing to showcase your portfolio.
How much do community managers make?
The salary of community managers can vary depending on several factors. Geographic location plays a role, with higher salaries typically found in areas with a high cost of living or a strong presence in the tech or entertainment industries. Education can have some impact, especially if it’s in a field relevant to the industry in which they are working.
Experience is an important factor, as those with a proven track record of successfully managing and engaging communities may command higher salaries. The industry and size of the company are also important, with larger companies or those in competitive industries potentially paying more. Additionally, the scope of responsibilities and the scale of the community being managed can influence compensation.
Highest paying industries
- Software Publishers: $70,000
- Management of Companies and Enterprises: $68,000
- Advertising and Public Relations: $66,000
- Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services: $64,000
- Information Services: $62,000
Highest paying states
- California: $74,000
- New York: $71,000
- Massachusetts: $69,000
- Washington: $68,000
- New Jersey: $67,000
Types of community managers
In this career guide section, we explore the diverse domain of community managers. The field is broad, with a wide array of types and specializations, enabling professionals to cater to specific segments, networks, or platforms.
Online community manager
A role primarily rooted in the digital landscape, the online community manager harnesses the power of the internet to engage with an audience. Strategies for interaction might include managing the company’s social media platforms, organizing virtual events, or moderating online forums related to the industry. They act as the face of the company in the digital world.
Brand community manager
Immersed in marketing and brand identity, the brand community manager strives to foster a strong sense of community among consumers. This professional is responsible for creating an approach that firmly positions the brand in the minds of the consumers, encouraging loyalty and promoting a sense of belonging. By establishing a strong community, they enhance not only the brand’s recognition but also its reputation.
Residential community manager
Moving away from the digital frontier, the residential community manager oversees the functioning and management of residential areas such as apartment complexes or gated communities. Coordinating with maintenance teams, handling complaints, and managing resident amenities are only a few of the daily tasks. Their main objective is to ensure a harmonious and holistic environment for all residents.
Game community manager
The game community manager serves in the exciting intersection of gaming and community engagement. Working for companies in the gaming industry, these professionals play a crucial role in developing, maintaining, and nurturing the game community—engaging players, addressing feedback, promoting new features, and frequently acting as the link between the player base and the game developers.
Nonprofit community manager
Organizations with a mission to serve often have a community manager specializing in nonprofit work. The nonprofit community manager engages with the members and volunteers, donors, and beneficiaries of the organization’s work. They mobilize the community, promoting the organization’s goals and helping to drive social change through strategic interactions.
Top skills for community managers
A career as a community manager requires a unique set of skills in areas such as public relations, marketing, and communication.
A reliable communicator is paramount to excelling as a community manager. Effective communication encompasses listening to the community’s needs and feedback and translating these into actionable plans. It also includes clearly conveying the company’s messaging and updates to the community.
The management of a community calls for organizational abilities. These professionals must handle numerous aspects simultaneously, such as scheduling posts, conducting events, keeping track of community feedback, and collaborating with other teams. Excellent organizational skills ensure that all these elements are managed systematically and efficiently for the smooth functioning of the community.
Cultural competency and adaptability
Understanding and respecting diverse cultures, beliefs, and values is critical in community management. Communities often comprise members from diverse backgrounds, and cultural competency is needed to engage effectively with all of them. The fast-paced nature of social media and online communities also requires adaptability and readiness to respond to new trends or unexpected developments.
Successful community management extends beyond the basics of communication and organization; it involves guiding a community toward a shared vision. This role calls for the ability to inspire and engage, solve conflicts, and create a sense of belonging among community members.
Marketing and PR skills
Beyond fostering community engagement and involvement, the role often involves promoting the brand or organization within the community. Therefore, skills in marketing and public relations can be highly beneficial. Being well-versed in these areas enables these managers to communicate the organization’s values effectively, encourage positive brand recognition, and drive more engagement.
Community manager career path
As a community manager, there are numerous future career opportunities to explore. One common path is to grow within community management, meaning taking on bigger responsibilities and overseeing a larger community, possibly at a larger or more high-profile company. With this progression, you’ll shape and guide the direction of the community, developing strategies and implementing tactics to increase engagement and participation.
Beyond a senior manager or head of community, one might aim for an executive role, such as a director or vice president of community. These roles often involve visioning, strategic planning, and decision-making responsibilities, where you would drive community development. This could also involve leading a team of managers and associated staff.
Depending on the industry and the importance placed on community-building, there are opportunities for advancement into chief-level roles. A chief community officer, for instance, holds a strategic leadership role and is responsible for creating a nurturing environment that promotes customer or member satisfaction and loyalty.
Outside of traditional progression, these professionals could leverage their relationship-building, content creation, and moderation skills to transition into roles within public relations, content marketing, or social media management. They may also use their understanding of audience engagement to shift into user experience design or customer service roles, where empathy, understanding, and collaboration are key competencies.
Finally, their work often empowers those with valuable entrepreneurial skills. By managing a brand’s community, you’ve essentially operated a small business division. Some may decide to branch out on their own, consulting other businesses on how to build and manage robust communities or launching their own start-ups.
Similar job titles
Community manager position trends and outlook
In the age of social media, the community management profession has greatly diversified, making the role both exciting and challenging for many. The career continuously expands and adapts to new technologies and platforms, promising a wide range of opportunities for those interested in this field. The demand for skilled managers is growing as organizations recognize the importance of maintaining a strong online presence.
One of the key trends driving the growth of this career is its importance in improving customer experience. With the growth of social media, customers and users now expect instant responses to their queries. Companies understand the importance of dynamic interactions, and these professionals are needed more than ever to curate this customer experience. In this profession, you must catch up with the ever-evolving digital landscape and strategize to engage communities online.
Another striking trend in community management is the importance of personal branding. These managers often represent the organization’s voice and thus play an instrumental role in creating its brand’s identity. More organizations are now recognizing the significance of personal branding in achieving their sales targets and expanding their market reach. As a result, they are expected to maintain and nurture brand identity through consistent messaging and valuable content.
Employment projections for community managers
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, although specific data for the community manager role is not readily available, the outlook for marketing, promotions, and marketing managers, a category under which this position falls, is quite optimistic. Employment in these areas is projected to grow 10% through 2031 – faster than the average for all occupations. The increasing use of digital media to manage an organization’s reputation, engage customers, and generate sales has led to a hike in demand for these roles, expected to lead to a significant number of job opportunities in the coming years.
Community manager career tips
Understand the community deeply
A successful manager’s priority should always be to have a deeper understanding of the community they serve. This knowledge involves understanding the wants and needs of the community, identifying key stakeholders, recognizing the community culture, and maintaining up-to-date knowledge of trending topics and events. The more they understand their community, the better they can manage it and help it flourish.
Safeguard the brand’s image
One of your key roles is to protect and enhance the image of the brand you represent. This includes acting swiftly and professionally to handle customer complaints, responding accurately and respectfully to questions about the company, and ensuring the representation of the brand is positive and impactful, both online and offline.
Engage and build relationships
These managers play a critical role in regularly engaging with the community. This interaction isn’t limited to solving problems or answering questions; it also includes actively participating in community discussions, effectively networking, and building relationships. A strong relationship with the community fosters a sense of trust and goodwill that can significantly improve the community’s overall health and success.
In the ever-evolving world of community management, continuous learning becomes an essential tool for success. The best managers consistently seek knowledge and improve their skills by:
- Attending webinars and workshops related to community management
- Following industry-leading blogs, podcasts, and communities
- Obtaining relevant certifications such as the Certified Community Management Professional (CCMP) or the Hootsuite Social Marketing Certification
Build a professional network
Networking is fundamental for career growth in community management. Not only can it lead to job opportunities, but it can also provide insight into best practices in community management. Below are some professional associations and networks to consider:
- The Community Roundtable
- International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)
- Community Managers Meet (CMM)
Evaluate and adapt strategies
A crucial element for success is developing the ability to evaluate and adapt your community strategies as necessary. This involves periodically reviewing key metrics to ensure that the community’s needs are met and modifying based on what is effective or ineffective. It keeps the strategies fresh while ensuring that they serve the community’s best interests.
Where the community manager jobs are
- Impact Hub
- New York
Top job sites
What skills are required for a community manager?
Communication skills are fundamental to communicating effectively with community members. Leadership and motivating others are also essential, as you often need to stimulate engagement and participation. Knowledge of social media platforms and proficiency in handling content management systems is also necessary for this job.
Can a community manager work remotely?
Absolutely. Many work remotely as their job involves online networks, social media platforms, and virtual communities. However, some roles might demand on-site work for community events and in-person meetings.
Is a degree necessary to be a community manager?
While not mandatory, a bachelor’s degree in marketing, communication, journalism, or a related field can be beneficial. However, many companies place more emphasis on relevant experience, excellent communication skills, and a demonstrable ability to build and manage a community.
What’s the role of a community manager in marketing?
Their role in marketing revolves around cultivating a positive image for the brand within the community, influencing consumer behavior, and gauging customer sentiments. This often involves creating and executing content strategies, running social media campaigns, creating engaging activities, and interacting with members to foster a sense of belonging and loyalty.
Can introverts succeed as community managers?
Yes. While they need to interact with many people, introverts often excel at building deep, meaningful connections. They can be great listeners and can contribute to a community with thoughtful engagement and detailed follow-up, which is crucial to building meaningful relationships with community members.
What should I know about managing a virtual community?
Managing a virtual community requires understanding the particular dynamics of online interaction. You should be familiar with the tools and platforms your community uses, understand the etiquette of online communications, and recognize the importance of regular, consistent engagement. You also need to keep in mind that successful online communities are built on trust and respectful exchange of ideas.
How to deal with conflicts within the community?
Handling conflicts in a fair, respectful manner is crucial. Encourage open and respectful communication, strive to understand all perspectives, and intervene with a neutral standpoint when necessary. Establishing and enforcing community guidelines can also prevent conflicts from arising in the first place.
Does a community manager need to have technical skills?
While in-depth technical skills aren’t usually required, familiarity with digital tools and platforms commonly used in community management can be advantageous. This may include social media platforms, collaboration tools, content management systems, and data analytics tools.
I have great socializing skills. Is that enough to become a community manager?
Socializing skills are important, but successful community management requires a broader skill set. This includes strong leadership and organization skills, strategy development, content creation abilities, and a good understanding of the community’s interests and concerns. Being a quick problem-solver and having a proactive approach to engagement initiatives, in addition to socializing skills, will improve your effectiveness in this role.
How can I measure my success as a community manager?
There are several ways to gauge your success. This includes tracking engagement metrics such as likes, comments, shares, and active participation in community discussions, or assessing member satisfaction through surveys. Additionally, your impact on community growth, the connection members feel toward your brand, and your ability to turn members into brand advocates can speak volumes about your success in this role.