what makes a great community manager?

Community Manager. It’s a role that has evolved into a must-have position for any company wanting to connect on a deeper level and communicate directly with their consumers. With today’s new media technologies, it’s the perfect way to find brand advocates, solve customer issues and ultimately, build meaningful relationships. There are many qualities and skills to be had by a Community Manager and I could easily list them out myself. Instead, what better way to find what makes a CM valuable than by asking my own community on Twitter.

I decided to conduct a mini-Twitter project last night on this topic and asked my network of friends, thought leaders and colleagues this:

  • What could a Community Manager do to use Twitter as a way to connect & engage with their community?

While I was battling Twitter and their database issues (perfect timing, eh?), I received a ton of kickass responses to my question:

Mack Collier:

Community Managers could monitor Twitter to find and connect with their communityand could help passionate community members find each other here.

Mike Driehorst:

Comm Mgr could use Twitter to ask questions, seek input, get the pulse of the community he/she manages.

Tara Whittle:

I think it’s important to foster a sense of availability & approachability, esp. for bigger cos. I also think it’s important to not let questions go unanswered, and that takes a lot of commitment.

Connie Reece:

Be genuine. Add value thru info, links. Answer questions abt brand. Never resort to marketing speak. A Comm. Mgr. needs to learn the “etiquette” of each network he/she decides to engage with & really needs to enjoy people.

Deb Robison:

A good community manager knows the explanation they are giving is heard by all customers, not just the one with question.

Beth Harte:

Twitter is a great tool for a Comm Mgr. to keep the comm. connected (i.e. convos) & up-to-date w/news, videos, offers, etc.

Amber Naslund:

Great comm. managers use social media to help view and articulate their brand through the eyes of their customers.

Jason Tryfon:

By engaging in near real time people feel a sense of belonging and their voice being heard.

Eddie Soto:

Gauge pulse on what is being said. Survey. Address concerns. Immediate damage control. Initiate discussions… Tweetups!

Keith Burtis:

More important than anything is to be human. Be real and transparent.

The discussion got flowing further than just these awesome thoughts. Take a look at the entire conversation for yourself.

The last thought by Keith definitely drew my attention. BE HUMAN. It’s not that hard right? Well, unless you’re a man-eating mutant from the 3rd dimension, but that’s probably unlikely. So, be yourself to the community. If you’ve got a flair or quirky attitude that people find weird but entertaining – then do it! Community Managers are the face and voice of the company and someone who your loyal following looks to when they want to talk to a person and not a company or logo. Stand out and be heard!

These tips on how a Community Manager can connect with his/her community through Twitter are all valuable in their own right. It encompasses what being a community leader is all about and how these values can translate into a great experience with your own community on Twitter and really any network.

I had a blast getting people’s gears moving with this question and honestly, it wouldn’t have taken off without the help of my rockin’ community. This project helped show that a good Community Manager needs to know how to connect and engage his community and make it even easier to connect with one another. The CM is the facilitator that helps bring in the community but those advocates are the ones who truly make the conversation. It’s your duty to engage them, give them something to talk about and be able to show the results.

In true fashion, let’s hear from the community. What do you feel makes for a great Community Manager? What can we add to the list? Let’s get even more ideas flowing!

14 comments On what makes a great community manager?

  • A great post and use of Twitter! I think this post should be titled “What makes Sonny Gill a Great Community Manager.” I for one would hire you in a nanosecond to manage a community. Why? Because you have the social media know-how, you know how to create and engage a community, you’re a great conversationalist and most importantly…you aren’t man-eating mutant from the 3rd dimension!

    BTW, did I tell you how much I love your new blog design?! 🙂

  • Well organized. I guess to add a thought is to say that the community manager has to be able to keep all the plates spinning without dropping them and making a huge mess. Organization, Personality, ability to track results, and create metrics that are custom to your project are very important. We are in a wild west space. It is up to us to create the benchmarks and metrics to hold ourselves accountable.

  • @Beth – Seriously appreciate your thoughts! Too nice! I really do love the community aspect of all these tools we use. In the end it is about the people and how you communicate with them. Plus, if I were a man-eating mutant, I don’t think many people would talk to me 😉

    Thanks about the design – loving it!

    @Keith – Great point again Keith. It’s definitely a big job and keeping everything in line is key in the success of the CM and mainly, successfully engaging your community.

  • I think you did several important things here; first, you ‘crowdsourced’ the answer from your community on Twitter. That’s a great example of how a community manager could reach out to their community and solicit feedback and input. Then by linking to our Twitter accounts, that alerts us to this post, which prompts us to come and join the conversation here.

    And finally, you pulled all the information here in one place so we could all benefit from the larger conversation. Great example of connecting with your community via social media tools, well done Sonny!

  • Hey! Thanks for the shout out. And did I mention how awesome your new site is? Great thoughts and, as always, you did a great job building community through engaging us all. (Did I mention your new design is great??)

    I think you put your finger on the pulse of how a community can thrive and learn from one another. And that is key for every organization right now. Building community in the way you have is what it’s all about. Say, did I mention that I like your new blog? 😉

  • @Mack – Appreciate it Mack! I felt it was easy enough for me to write down my own words but what matters most to me are the thoughts and ideas of my community, which in the long run will help further grow any company/business – and in this case, me.

    @Deb – You are too much! 🙂 You should talk to my designer and thank her for bringing my ideas to life!

    Learning from one another is definitely what helps communities grow and evolve into an army of advocates for your company. It takes more than just a CM but one that involves the entire community. And did I mention that you’re too much 😉

  • Hey Sonny,

    thanks for this excellent post – it came across my Twitter feed from @antipink and I immediately retweeted it. It’s a great example of Twitter outreach.

    I think community managers (CMs) have an incredibly diverse role ahead of them, and while it’s possible (and often very useful) to define the broad job description, I think the specifics of working in different communities dictates the full role on a community-by-community basis.

    Totally agree with all the commenters here and with the suggestions offered through Twitter. I’d add that I think CMs are also internal organisational advocates for the art of powerful conversation.

    I see a large part of my (soon-to-be) role as championing not just THE community, but also championing community as a concept in our own business. I drive excitement about embracing transparency and authentic communications among the development team, the C-Level and all areas of the business.

    I think it’s potentially an issue if the only person embracing conversations in your business is the community manager. Chris Brogan’s excellent post on the scalability of social media and community communications (http://www.chrisbrogan.com/the-matter-of-scale/) and the comments along with that post demonstrate that for social media to be successful at scale, partners need to be brought on board from within the organisation as well as from within the community.

    Look at Zappos – over 400 employees twittering, effective conversations being had all over the place. As a CM, it’s part of your job to empower and enable the rest of your company’s employees to join the conversation too. It helps with scalability and it really shows the company’s commitment to giving a damn about the customer.

  • @Scott – Nice to see a new face so thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts!

    You are totally spot on with your point about building a positive internal community. There definitely has to be an acceptance from top to bottom and an understanding of the authenticity needed from the company and CM to make these efforts worthwhile and effective, for both the company and the community itself.

    Look forward to more of your feedback here!

  • Hey Sonny,
    Nicely done, ditto Mack’s comments about crowd source, then organizing the data herein, good job!. This topic of Community Manager is floating around the apartment business these days as being another, new position. The next question that pops up is, then what is being eliminated as we juggle expenses in an effort to cover all the bases.

  • @Eric – I’m sure that topic arises with many businesses, including yours, but what makes CM’s so valuable is that they cover a large basis of online communication. They’re the voice of the company within marketing, communication, and yes, customer service. That’s one of the main goals – serving your customers and building relationships/finding brand advocates, which in the end will result in the growth of your business’ community. It may be seen as another new position but I think there’s huge value in CM’s as it encompasses important facets of a company.

    Appreciate your thoughts! Look forward to hearing more of your views in the future.

  • Hey Sonny,
    I’m sorry that I missed your Twitter poll. In reading your bio at the bottom I totally agree that you are very community oriented. I personally have felt your support as I shifted in a new direction. (Even comm mgrs need that mutual support!)

    Your information is great! I would add that the best thing about the comm mgr role is that it covers a broad spectrum ranging from marketing, PR, product dev’t, communication, tech & customer support, etc. It really is a huge responsibility, but an amazingly gratifying role.

    Keep up the great work Sonny! and I like your blog design too!

  • @Connie – I’m honored that you stopped by to shed your expertise on community management!

    As I’ve heard everyone’s responses, I’ve definitely realized that comm mgrs have quite a large role in marketing and within the company as a whole. That’s the beauty in being one as you’re able to have a hand (if not a full effort) in many facets of the business but more importantly, all things that deal with the most important part of your company – people.

    Hope to see you around more often 🙂

  • Sounds like you’ve found another commercial use for twitter! Thanks for this blog post! It was certainly helpful to me.

  • Pingback: NO Cost (Six Step) Small Business Social Media & Online Marketing Plan — Mark Hayward ()

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.