These days, nearly every major brand has a community manager. If you’re a member of a forum, have asked a question on a Facebook page, or have left feedback online, you’ve likely come into contact with one. So what does it take to be a community manager? Who is that person behind the curtain? What are they really made of? Are you equipped to enter the community world?
Community pros wear several hats, and they have to be able to switch them out quite often. Check out the top 8 traits we think it takes to be a great community manager!
This is at the top of the list. Not by chance, and not for alphabetical reasons. Rather, it’s a quality and skill of top priority. And “fake it till you make it” won’t work in this case. You will, inherently, need to be an empathetic person who can step outside of yourself again….. and again…. and again. Communities are comprised of people from all walks of life, from all over the world. As a community manager, you’ll encounter individuals who have a question, are trying to solve a problem, or are looking for support.
You’ll be expected to put yourself in others’ shoes. You’ll need the ability to ask yourself, “How would I feel if it were me?” Community pros are responding to people who are curious, upset, angry, worried, proud, happy, excited, passionate – they’re feeling something that drove them to your community. Taking a moment to empathize and picture yourself in his position will help you respond authentically, and take action in the customer’s best interest.
At any given moment, a community manager has her hands on several different projects at once – interactions with users, settling disputes, answering questions, scheduling community posts, setting social media calendars, blogging, strategy meetings with execs, tracking metrics – the list goes on and on.
A community manager’s job is never done, so staying organized is imperative! Have a central to-do list (tools such as Basecamp or even Microsoft Excel are incredibly helpful), and prioritize your tasks. Use your email calendar, and sync your phone to stay on top of your appointments. Create a routine that works for you, and stick to it if at all possible……
Time Management Skills
……which leads right into time management! If there were 100 work hours in the work week, a community manager could fill every single one. Optimizing your time correctly allows for clearer thinking (working smarter), better work relationships, and of course – getting more done. Apps like Toggl (which helps you track the time you spend on projects) and Evernote (helps you organize your ideas in one place) are valuable time management tools.
Qualitative data from the community flows in everyday – comments on social media, forums, emails, phone calls, surveys, etc. But do you know how to read and utilize quantitative data?
Analytics will give you valuable insight into your community that they may not say out loud. Yes, clicks and purchases are the end-game, but what about your micro-conversions? These metrics might seem insignificant, but reach, impressions, likes, shares, email-signups…… tracking every step will help you see the overall customer journey, and shape the way you think about your community.
Can you see where your customers and community are headed? Can you think long-term, and offer a place on the web where people will keep coming back for more? Can you predict how your community might react to product changes or pricing structure? We’re not saying you need a glass ball and the ability to see what the year 2025 will hold (although if you do have this ability, please contact us immediately – we’d like to speak with you regarding some lottery numbers), but you do need to know your customer base and community.
Another aspect of this is being able to see the entire picture. What is your community member’s experience with you or your brand, from beginning to end? Where does your role fall in that journey, and how can you expand it? And how can you support your colleagues who are trying to do the same, and provide a full 360 experience for the customer?
During a #cmgrEMEA chat last November, I asked “What are your favorite community management tools or apps?” #cmgrLDN meetup founder Christie Fidura answered, “Your ears! Listening is the most important tool you have. Use it!” Open your ears and listen to what your community is saying. Don’t anticipate, don’t finish their thoughts, don’t interpret what they’re saying to fit your strategy. Just listen.
While a community manager isn’t usually required to have a degree in programming or coding, most are expected to know the basics – HTML, CSS, SQL, and more (depending on the company). Even if it’s not a stated requirement, don’t step into community without some technical knowledge. Relying 100% on your developers for every minor tweak is inefficient (and lazy). There are plenty of online resources for learning these tech languages, including Codecademy and Web Monkey, and community managers should be ready and willing to get technical!
This is a tricky one, because as a community manager, you have to advocate for BOTH sides – your brand, and your community.
When you’re on social media, sending emails, in your forums, or anywhere else, you are an advocate on behalf of your brand. You may be apologizing, explaining, answering, or accepting praise. You’ll need to stay consistent with your brand’s voice, while remaining helpful and empathetic (there’s empathy again!). There’s a careful balance between transparency and protecting your brand, and it’s your responsibility to find that! Customers and community members may be upset, confused, or have questions – and you will be the person representing your brand and answering.
On the other side of the coin – you’re the primary supporter of your community! What are they saying to you? What behaviors (analytics!) are they exhibiting while they’re on your site? What keywords are they using that clues you in to what they need? What is a recurring issue? What do they wish your product would do? You’re in a lucky position, community manager – YOU get to hear what’s happening on the ground, and advocate for the user. This means collating comments and data, communicating with other teams, and speaking up at meetings. You have very valuable feedback in your arsenal, and you’ll need to use it wisely.
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Certainly this list isn’t complete. Different brands, different cultures, and different regions of the world require a variety of qualities in their community manager. What would you add to this list? Have you met a successful community manager who had a stand-out quality that you admired? We’d love to hear your comments below!