My job description varies from one day to the next. This is not uncommon at young companies, where responsibilities are shared across multiple roles. Community Manager is not so easily defined in a few neat sentences, but I think that’s part of what makes the position so interesting.
It’s important to note that ‘Community Manager’ will mean something different depending on the company. Sometimes it may even be used interchangeably with Social Media Manager or Public Relations Specialist. Interestingly, social media management accounts for about 10% of my job, with the majority of my time being dedicated to brand building through industry partnerships, market research and writing.
There is one commonality that holds true regardless of the industry you work in as Community Manager - you are the essence of the brand. Not only do you represent what the brand stands for, but you are often making a first impression on behalf of the company.
No pressure, right?
I don’t think anyone could have prepared me for all of the unique - and unexpected - aspects of this job. As a Community Manager myself, I believe it’s important to embrace the fact that your role will require you to activate and develop a diverse skillset.
Here are four skillsets (and insights) I’ve developed as a Community Manager:
1. Chief Networker
At PostBeyond, this is the core function of my job as Community Manager. My main objective is to build strategic relationships with industry leaders. Sounds fun, right? It is a lot of fun, but an equal amount of hard work.
The most challenging part is finding the right fit for our company. I can’t stress enough how important it is to think carefully about whom you want to work with. Remember, they are a reflection of you and the company you work for. Your number one consideration should be how both parties can benefit from such a partnership. That’s how you earn a reputation as someone who people actually want to work with.
As Community Manager, I have been fortunate to meet experts from all over the world. I have been pleasantly surprised by their willingness to speak with me, answer my questions and offer their assistance. I do my best to emulate that same behaviour in my approach to anyone I meet; how can I be of help to them, in any way, big or small.
2. Operations Ninja
We don’t yet have a formal HR department, so I am often the go-to person for internal community-related matters. This includes anything from optimizing employees’ social profiles, to organizing company-wide events, to designing company swag.
These responsibilities won’t always sit with me, but for now, I am happy to take them on, as I see them as benefiting our internal community and culture. The challenging part is balancing the extra operational tasks with your core responsibilities, and that can take time to master.
My advice? Know when to say no. Some of it may simply fall out of your scope of expertise, while other times you may just not have the capacity to take it on. Don’t be afraid to say so in either case - striking the right balance is something I’ve been working on as Community Manager.
3. Pseudo-PR Contact
During my time as Community Manager, I’ve dabbled in Public Relations. While I’m not running a formal media outreach strategy, I am usually the point person for anything PR or event related. It’s given me a whole new appreciation for this area - the time, resources and connections needed to do the job well.
So far, I’ve had the opportunity to not only attend conferences, but help organize PostBeyond’s involvement as a sponsor. This includes coordinating and delegating team responsibilities, finalizing contracting agreements and capitalizing on PR opportunities.
But what does this have to do with Community Management?
One of the core functions of Community Management is building brand. Plain and simple, PR plays a crucial part in building brand awareness. Although you may not fulfill the traditional responsibilities of a PR role, don’t shy away from them. Coverage anywhere can do a lot for increasing the visibility of your brand, which is especially important for young companies.
4. Part-time Writer & Editor
In my role I do a fair amount of writing and editing. I am primarily focused on guest blogging, conducting interviews and sourcing industry experts to guest post for our blog. We have an amazing full-time brand journalist who handles the majority of content for our own blog, which allows me to be more external facing with my content efforts.
Establishing online authority is a joint effort between your ‘homegrown’ blog content and external opportunities (guest blogging, webinars, interviews, podcasts, backlinks, mentions etc). As Community Manager, it is your job to make sure your company’s voice is heard amidst all of the noise.
This is arguably one of the most challenging aspects of the job. You won’t always have a meaty budget to work with, so it’s very important to be smart with your efforts and think extra creatively. Run an analysis on your content to figure out what your audience responding to. You might find that webinar content performs better than podcast content, or that infographics (which I love!) perform better than listicles.
My advice is to be open minded. I’ve found a lot of success in guest blogging. Look for blogs that are aligned with your business interests and work your way up to larger publications. After a certain point, these opportunities will find you. Once that starts happening, you know you’re well on your way to becoming a community champion!
Hannah is Community Manager at PostBeyond. Obsessed with critical thinking and challenging the status quo. A little bit of a social butterfly and dreams of living in a treehouse.