Terminology
Community Manager

What is an Online Community Manager? What Online Community Managers Actually Do

Online community manager

Introduction to Online Community Management

Whether the purpose of an online community is to make a profit or simply share and collaborate, any successful online community has a manager.
Online community management first arose in the mid-90s around online gaming communities, but the term now refers to a wide array of leaders in online communities, including those revolving around:
  • a particular mission or idea
  • a business or brand
  • learning skills
  • personal networks
Regardless of the topic, your online community needs a manager with a unique and varied skillset.

What is an Online Community Manager?

So, what is an online community manager, exactly?
Online community managers help direct and lead people in online spaces — and that includes both clients or members as well as official accounts and brands. They promote engagement by commenting, prompting, sharing, informing, asking, and more.
In short, online community managers run the show in a friendly and welcoming way. Like a community leader in a physical space, they supervise the community, welcome new members, and enable ease of communication.
A good online community manager is able to realize a sense of direction for the community and give it more purpose.
Online community managers run the show in a friendly and welcoming way. Like a community leader in a physical space, they supervise the community, welcome new members, and enable ease of communication.

5 Key Responsibilities of Online Community Managers

You might be thinking that it makes sense for an online community manager to, well, manage online communities — but what does an online community manager actually do?
Because the term online community is so vast, the exact day-to-day responsibilities of an online community manager can vary significantly.
However, here are four main responsibilities that any online community manager will be tasked with.
Responsibilities of online community managers

1. Manage Social Media Accounts with Expertise and Experience

Although an online community manager is distinct from a social media manager, online community managers still regularly post on social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and YouTube.
For large companies, the community manager and social media manager are always separate roles within one marketing department, but in smaller companies, one person may fill both roles. Whether the community manager doubles as a social media manager or not, social media is always an important part of the job for a community manager.
The main difference between the two is that a social media manager is more likely to post in community forums from a brand account, while community managers maintain more personable accounts with individuals behind it (instead of an entire brand).
Both positions will engage with one another and may work together to promote specific content, answer community questions, and boost audience engagement. So, it is essential that online community managers know the ins and outs of social media platforms.

2. Promote Community Engagement Through Content

The most important responsibility of an online community manager is to promote positive engagement among community members.
They do this through creative content creation on whatever platform their online community is based on. Depending on the platform, that might mean that an online community manager may need to:
  • master photography and photoshop
  • possess great design skills for images on posts
  • be able to write captivating stories
  • learn videography
  • engage with their brand by playing video games, wearing particular clothing, traveling, etc.
As a content creator, online community managers must be tech-savvy and willing to learn new skills.
The most important responsibility of an online community manager is to promote positive engagement among community members.

3. Research Industry Developments

Online community managers not only research industry developments — they engage with them. They might do this by sharing success stories and strategies, informing their community about recent technology or updates, or commenting on posts in their industry.
Although this role is social-media-heavy, online community managers need to know how to do more than just post. Online community managers must be aware of recent developments in their field by completing research.
This will look different for every industry, but in general, an online community manager should be informed and up to date.

4. Connect with Their Audience in a Meaningful Way

When it boils down, being an online community manager is a customer-service-based role. They need to balance content creation and engagement with phenomenal social skills.
In addition to the technical hard skills needed to be an online community manager, people in this role must possess great soft skills such as active listening, empathy, and communication. Expect an online community manager to be an excellent team member who is apt at providing positive and constructive feedback.
When they engage with their community online, they are able to resolve conflict and promote well-being in their community. And these skills must be transferable offline, too. An online community manager might engage with the public through live events or in-person groups. Whenever they interact with others, their job is to build and maintain their community.
In order to maintain partnerships online and offline, community managers must demonstrate outstanding customer service skills.

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