In many aspects, community managers are the modern Swiss Army Knife, or, as Germans would put it, an „eierlegende Wollmillchsau„. Much is being asked of community managers in terms of skills, responsibilities (in German), and activities.
For a recent client engagement on professionalizing corporate community management, I reviewed a seemingly endless number of articles, whitepapers, and other sources including the ones mentioned above. However, I felt none of them captured in easy to understand language the essence of a community manager and what he is supposed to excel in.
A Corporate Community Manager purposefully builds, grows and manages a community, performing community management activities.
I like the definition of a community manager found on Wikipedia and built on top of it 3 key roles with expected activities and behaviours for future community managers at my client to grow into.
A coach is someone that lifts you up, someone that supports you and your team to become better together.
In a similar vein, the community manager looks after his community members and helps them to find solutions to the problems and challenges they may be facing, but he does not solve the solutions for them!
- I help my members to succeed
- I promote people and positive behaviour
- I listen & ask questions
- I am empathetic to my community members and the challenges they face
- I support my members to find the relevant information
The perfect host welcomes the guests to the party. The host knows who is attending and how they can be introduced to like-minded people. He provides a safe space for conversations to flourish, creates opportunities for them to share, learn and adds a sparkle to the conversation when needed.
Equally, a community manager provides a physical or digital place, where community members can meet and connect with each other. He holds himself in the background, does not participate in all conversations but makes sure that everyone is enjoying themselves.
- I connect people (across communities)
- I like to connect with others
- I make people feel welcomed and appreciated
- I share and spark conversations
- I connect the knowledge holder with the knowledge seeker
A role model is someone that walks the talk, someone that people turn to for guidance and inspiration. A role model also makes it easy for others to follow him and his actions.
As a community manager, you live and act as a role model for the community members. The members will look at the integrity and actions which you choose to connect and inspire others. It is a key to champion the cause of the community, appreciate members‘ commitment, adhere to the community’s guidelines and set a visible example for others to follow.
- I have a strong interest in the topic and purpose
- I show appreciation
- I have a positive attitude
- I like to moderate & answer questions
- I frequently reflect on my own actions to learn and grow within my community and field of expertise
As part of the training, existing Community Managers at my client are asked to complete a self-assessment on the activities and behaviours outlined above. They are also encouraged to get feedback from community members on that assessment to gain another perspective and understand in which areas they can still improve and potentially how.