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The (Very) Many Hats of an Online Community Manager

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the era of the internet, it’s that having an online presence isn’t the same thing as fostering an engaged community. When brands simply broadcast content to their audience, but don’t create an open dialogue, fans tend to disappear. It’s the constant communication and sense of camaraderie that drives a community. That’s where community managers come in.

The beauty of a dedicated community manager is the commitment and passion they feel not only to a brand or product, but for the community as a whole. A community manager is arguably one of the most valuable assets to a customer success team, but at times the role can be overlooked.

Here are some of the roles a community manager plays:

The liaison and connection-maker. At their core, community managers are communicators. They are often single-handedly responsible for creating and managing dialogue among community members as well as liaising between the community and the brand itself. This direct line of communication between a company and its users is a powerful and useful tool, but it needs to be managed in order to add value. 

Enter community managers. They can share updates, changes, announcements, or betas with the community in advance, and report any findings back to their internal teams. Alternatively, community managers can report frustrations or requests from the community back to the brand. Through their role as liaison and connection-maker, community managers are in a unique position to add tremendous value to their organizations.

The coach and peacekeeper. The internet allows us to create communities that are made up of all types of people from different walks of life, brought together around a common interest. While this is overarchingly positive, it comes with its own set of complications that need to be managed and properly handled. 

Community managers are equipped with the ability and resources to tackle these complications head-on. Many community managers provide a set of rules or behavior guidelines to any new community member to dissuade negative interactions from the get-go. Other community managers might require additional validation to participate in conversation, or award badges to top participants. Alternatively, community managers serve as the “keepers of the peace” when negative interactions occur between community members. Each of these touchpoints are what enables the community manager to maintain a healthy, collaborative environment for everyone. 

The educator and teacher. An educated community is an engaged community, and community managers can be incredibly useful when it comes to educating or teaching their members. Their role as educator is two-fold: They’re able to use their own expertise to educate the community, and they’re able to create connections with other experts who can share their knowledge. 

Running challenges, posting tutorials, or hosting webinars and events are just a few of the ways in which community managers can provide educational value to their members. Alternatively, simply participating in discussions, providing FAQ-style support, and answering questions on behalf of an organization is another way community managers provide educational value to their fans. 

The host and event planner. A static community cannot grow. A community manager is on point for keeping the community actively engaged. Communities need purpose and drive, and regular opportunities to raise excitement and change the pace from time to time. From contests and acknowledgement to weekly activities and (seasonal or IP-specific) themes, it’s imperative to build well-crafted experiences for the community to build deeper connections and bond around.

The evangelist and cheerleader. Community managers are invested in and passionate about the brand they work for; it’s the nature of the gig. But the role of the community manager isn’t to sell or market a product, but instead to evangelize the community and foster a positive attitude toward the organization.

In many ways, community managers are a direct link to the customer’s experience with the brand. They can provide insight that would otherwise go ignored and build rapport with a community. Community managers can connect, motivate, and encourage other community members, and in turn, create an engaged fan base — something that benefits any and all organizations.

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