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Community manager goals and responsibilities
Mar 8th, 2023

Community manager goals and responsibilities

  • Nikki Thibodeau

    Nikki Thibodeau

    Community, Common Room

It probably comes as no surprise that the people running a community greatly impact its success. In the early stages, a community team is often small—or even a single scrappy community leader making it all happen—and it’s normal to take a wear-many-hats approach to community management. But as your community grows, your team will likely grow alongside it. Eventually, it makes sense for each team member to lean into specialization and drive growth in specific areas.

A great example of this is the division of two impactful roles: community operations manager and community manager. You can read more about community ops managers here, but today, we’re going to dive deeper into the community manager role.

A community manager provides hands-on moderation within the community. Think of them as the first line of defense as they field questions, welcome new members, facilitate conversations, and more.

Below we cover the community manager’s:

  • Goals
  • Responsibilities
  • Challenges
  • Other concerns

Goals of a community manager

The role of a community manager (CM) can look very different from one organization to the next, especially when you factor in the makeup of the community team, the size of the community itself, and overarching business objectives. However, they usually share some common objectives.

These often include:

  • Growing the community. This can take many forms, like increasing the total headcount, adding members from a specific demographic, or upping the number of active members. Bringing in new faces broadens the community’s reach, enriches the kinds of conversations that can happen in the group, and creates a concentrated pool of potential leads for the organization.
  • Boosting engagement. Engagement, especially member-to-member engagement, is where the community magic happens! CMs strive to create a space where members feel comfortable asking questions and empowered to support each other, where they can establish real connections with others on a similar journey. This engagement is where most of the value arises for community members, which is the primary goal of a CM.
  • Producing content. This is a tricky, iterative process that involves many different people across the organization. A community manager contributes through ideation (mining conversations for popular topics), collaborating with internal subject matter experts during production, and then strategically distributing the piece across relevant community channels.
  • Cultivating a vibe. CMs are responsible for creating a consistent member experience. Branding plays a role here, but so does the tone and language of messages, the structure of channels, the behaviors outlined in the code of conduct, and the types of conversations being encouraged. It’s a filter through which all elements of the community will be viewed and what members will connect to on a personal level.
  • Driving business results. Second to delivering value to members, supporting business growth is the why behind the community. What that looks like may vary from one organization to another, but it should always be top of mind for community leaders. On larger teams, driving business results may fall more on the plate of the community ops manager, but community managers should always be intimately familiar with overarching business goals and how community initiatives feed into them.

Community managers are here to ensure members find value in the community—whether that’s through networking, knowledge sharing, or something else—in a safe and engaging environment. These goals are key to ongoing and sustainable community growth. And a thriving community is the core of a community-led growth strategy, in which user acquisition, customer retention, and business growth are driven by a carefully cultivated community of end users and thought leaders.

You might also like: What your community metrics and analytics are telling you.

The responsibilities of a community manager

The list of a community manager’s responsibilities is a long one, but for those willing to take on the challenge, it’s also a fun, rewarding, and creative role.

While this is not a comprehensive list, here are some examples of a community manager’s daily tasks:

  • Staying on top of questions, conversations, and sentiment
  • Welcoming new members
  • Conducting member research and interviews
  • Amplifying user-generated content
  • Capturing and circulating product feedback
  • Identifying and nurturing champions
  • Sharing insights about community-qualified leads and at-risk accounts with the appropriate teams
  • Promoting events, new feature launches, and newly-released content
  • Ensuring all members are following the community’s code of conduct

These daily tasks feed into the longer-term responsibilities of a community manager, like:

  • Building and engaging a community around a brand, product, or service
  • Moderating online conversations and managing social media presence
  • Developing and implementing community strategies and plans
  • Identifying and addressing community issues and concerns
  • Analyzing and reporting community metrics
  • Collaborating with cross-functional teams and stakeholders

Community manager challenges

A growing community is an ever-evolving, fast-paced entity with hundreds of moving pieces. Challenges are inevitable, but awareness and intentional planning can help lessen their impact.

Common challenges community managers face include:

  • Scaling the community effectively. What works for a community with thirty members won’t work for one with 3,000. As the community grows, the processes, tech stack, and team structure will need to evolve in order to scale successfully.
  • Balancing community moderation with fostering growth and engagement. There are only so many hours in the day. When engagement notifications are popping up faster than you can address them, it can be hard to pull back and work on the bigger picture.
  • Dealing with negative or toxic behavior within the community. Internet trolls, spammers, and otherwise poorly-behaved people can inevitably find their way into your community. If they aren’t dealt with quickly, they can significantly harm that vibe we talked about above.
  • Measuring the impact and ROI of community initiatives. Community tools and social media sites are not known for their stellar analytics, and they certainly aren’t going to work together to provide a comprehensive view of your community. Whether through manual efforts or intelligent tooling, CMs must aggregate this data to understand what’s working and what isn’t.
  • Staying up-to-date with platform updates and changes. It’s rare that a community manager owns the platform upon which the community lives, so they have little control over the tool itself. And in an effort to stay competitive, these platforms often add, alter, or remove functionality, which can greatly impact a community manager’s processes. With significant changes, CMs may also need to communicate how these updates will impact the community.
  • Managing limited resources and budget. Getting leadership’s buy-in on community initiatives can be a challenge, and therefore, community managers often function with limited staffing and budget. As a result, they’re spread thin across many competing priorities.

Want to exchange tips for tackling these challenges with other community professionals? Join the conversation with 1500+ of your peers in the Uncommon Community.

Factors that affect a community manager’s work

Community-led growth is a relatively new go-to-market strategy, and the digital landscape is constantly changing. It can seem like the Wild West, and community managers have to contend with many internal and external factors over the course of their duties.

Skills at the individual level

As you can see, community managers are responsible for a wide variety of tasks, and many get started without any background in community management. Their soft skills, like communication, strategic planning and execution, adaptability, and comfort level with diving into the unknown, will significantly impact their success.

On a more personal note, managing a community can be stressful, especially when a community manager is called in for conflict resolution or crisis management. They are the manager in a “can I speak to the manager” moment, and members rely on them to maintain the integrity of the space in a calm, fair, and decisive manner.

Community factors

To effectively manage and grow a digital community, community managers need to understand two things about the community itself. The first is who their members are (or who they want to recruit) and exactly what they want or need.

They must also be familiar with online community dynamics, etiquette, and moderation techniques. A Discord server isn’t an old-school networking happy hour, and community managers should know what the digital version of a firm handshake looks like.

Organizational factors

A successful community requires strong cross-functional collaboration and project management. As we mentioned above, it’s common that leadership and other stakeholders have a limited understanding of a community’s true potential or scope of work. As a result, they may prioritize other initiatives.

Without their buy-in, community managers struggle to get the resources and staffing that they need, as well as SME collaboration on content production and end-user support. To effectively communicate with and motivate these stakeholders, CMs need a strong understanding of the business’s goals and must be able to demonstrate return on investment.

Technology stack

One of the most challenging elements of community building is analytics. While most understand that strategic decisions should be based on real-world data, getting a hold of it is another story. Community managers often gather and sift manually through data from disparate sources, identify and track useful KPIs based on that limited data, and then morph those into insights that guide future decisions.

To make their job easier, CMs are increasingly seeking out intelligent tooling to centralize all activity into one comprehensive platform that surfaces trends, common questions, product champions, shifts in sentiment, and more. Ideally, the tool will also be able to automate workflows and customize reporting and notifications to help community managers optimize their efforts.

Learn more in: How to evaluate community growth platforms.

How Common Room can help

Common Room helps community managers get real-time visibility into community activity, easily track KPIs, and automate workflows. Our platform provides a 360-degree view of each individual member’s activity, within the community, across social media, over in the company’s CRM, and beyond.

Having the ability to look at community activity on a granular level and with a wider lens is invaluable to a community manager. Common Room can flag an at-risk end-user who may cancel soon, monitor community sentiment, and provide context around a lead’s interests. This level of information empowers community managers to support organization-wide goals, from sales and customer service to product development.

To learn more about how an intelligent community growth platform can transform a community manager’s workload and optimize their efforts, check out How to get started with a community-led growth platform.

For more information about Common Room, try the platform for free or request a demo.