What community means and what a community manager does

Table of contents

  1. What does a community mean?
  2. What does a community manager do?

What does a community mean?

By definition a community is a group of people who interact with one another in the same environment. To narrow it down to the internet use case, we define an online community as a group of people connected by a shared goal, an interest or a purpose and communicating with each other.

What does a community manager do?

Community management is a set of activities to make a community work efficiently. What a community manager does at a particular moment largely depends on the state of the community, which is determined by the number of active users involved.

  • On the initial stage the primary goals for a community manager are to set up the site for others, start acquiring first users and establish the desired culture by onboarding new users and moderating the site.

  • When the community reaches the critical mass, the community manager needs to change the focus to other critical activities: proactively look for volunteers who want to help organize the community, create opportunities for users who want to show off their talents in other areas and write a story of the community.

  • In the next stages we need to focus on scaling the community by splitting the monolith into subcommunities and their joint integration. This requires polishing community rules, adding new user roles and doing some software updates.

The community manager’s success depends hardly on users’ and colleagues’ willingness to help them get things done. One needs to master three very critical skills: relationship building, communication, and managing conflicts.

  1. Relationship building. In the essence, all community initiatives are requests to users to help you with something. You need to identify a group of users who might want to help you when you ask and build a good relationship with them. The better the relationships, the more time and resources the users will be willing to contribute. Inside the company the situation looks the same. You will constantly need colleagues’ help in order to get done what the community has asked you for.

  2. Communication. There are two primary communication skills that a community manager should have. The first is the ability to tell short and engaging stories that ignite readers’ imagination and spur their actions. The second is the ability to get others to talk. The more frequently others talk to you, the more willing they will be to listen to you when you talk.

  3. Managing conflicts. The biggest danger to communities comes from the community itself. Its name is drama. Drama burns trust and any motivation to do anything together, it polarizes users, making them dislike each other and leave the community. The community manager needs to work with difficult people and keep them productive and resolve conflict situations.

Overall, one can think that a community manager is the owner of a venue where people come to connect with others, enjoy themselves and each other and have fun. The community manager sets the venue, organizes the beverages and plans activities. When the guests are at the venue the community manager makes every effort to ensure guests get the most out of the event. The success of the community manager’s work is measured by the satisfaction that the guests have by the end of the evening.