The state of community management

As digital marketing expands, this role is deepening in importance. A new report examines the characteristics and responsibilities of this increasingly powerful position.

As strong community management becomes integral to digital marketing strategy, it’s fascinating to watch the evolution of the community manager.

What was once an oft-vacant role is increasingly seen as a valuable asset.

To see this shift, take a look at The Community Roundtable’s 2013 State of Community Management: The Value of Community Management report, which highlights key findings about the position.

This year’s research was driven by these key questions:

1. What do business communities look like, and what is the value of community?

2. What does community management look like, and what is the value of community management?

Here’s a look at some of this year’s insights:

Community managers aren’t just technicians.

Current data reveal one finding that’s “clearer than it has been in the past,” according to the report: Technical skills are no longer primary requirements for becoming a community manager. Instead, it’s all about engagement and people skills.

When you think about what community management entails—relationship building, engagement, conversation, and more—doesn’t that make perfect sense?

Well-managed communities create their own norms.

You might have heard of the “90-9-1” rule, which asserts that for every 100 people in a community, 90 are lurkers, nine are contributors, and one is a content creator. The Community Roundtable’s data actually defy this rule, illustrating that many communities have equal numbers of creators and contributors.

That sort of shift generally speaks to the high quality of community management, yet other factors such as community purpose, type of community, and technical ease of use can create increased engagement, too.

The bottom line? Understanding your particular community is crucial so that you can tailor your approach to the community’s needs.

Community managers are valuable.

More and more companies are recognizing the value of community managers. That doesn’t just translate to factors such as salary (current average: $65,778). This year’s data also show that 80 percent of organizations that could calculate the value of community management employed more than one community manager.

The bottom line? Community management is hard, but important work. The companies recognizing that are staffing accordingly, and that number will be even higher next year.

‘Community managers are hubs.’

I love that particular quote from The Community Roundtable’s report—it’s a powerful truth in one short sentence.

Today’s community managers have massive roles and responsibilities:

  • They field product and service complaints and route those to customer service (if they’re not actually the ones delivering customer service, which is also becoming more commonplace).
  • They see firsthand what marketing and branding tactics are working and what’s falling flat, reporting to marketing and sales to create a more potent strategy.
  • They’re often the first to hear about breaking news and issues involving the company, requiring direct interaction with public relations.
  • Product development may also work with community managers to get feedback about new products or ways to tweak existing offerings.

If there’s one word to describe a community manger’s role in any organization, it’s “hub.”

Another interesting theme emerged in this year’s report: the need for resources. Just as sales, marketing, R&D, etc., require tools and assistance to fully do their jobs, so do community managers. Community managers are not superhuman—they need support and resources to make things happen. If empowered accordingly, they can easily transform an organization.

Read The Community Roundtable’s report; I think you’ll find it as worthwhile as I did. Once you do, I’d love for you to stop back by and share your thoughts. Do these findings mimic what you’re seeing in your own community management microcosm?

Shelly Kramer is a digital marketing strategist and CEO of V3 Integrated Marketing. A version of this story first appeared on her blog.

Topics: PR

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