So You Want to be an Online Community Manager?

If that is really what you want, I really hope you get it.  It’s a complex position, at least in the role I fill for my company. But it can also be a great deal of fun.

I don’t “just do Twitter”, or “manage the blog”.  It isn’t a simple position.  It certainly isn’t as simple as that.

To be successful in this role you need a lot of things – like a voice.  If you can’t affect change within your organization, you can’t affect change for your customers.  Period.  If you take a Community position that does not allow you to control resources then you won’t win – you can’t win.  And you will be stealing money from your employer, since there is no chance you are actually earning it.

I spend a lot of time managing our corporate Twitter account – and a lot of time planning/writing/perfecting and posting to our blog.  But that honestly takes about 10% of my time.  Mandatory meetings take another 5-10% of my time.

That leaves me with 80-85% of my time that do NOT revolve around Twitter, or our blog.  So it seems I should have a lot of “free time”.

But guess what?  I don’t have much free time -  most of my time is spent doing plain old fashioned business – talking to customers, solving problems, and SELLING.  Yes, I am in Sales.  AND Marketing.  And Support, Engineering, Management, Finance… it is a complex role.

It can be amazingly rewarding.  If you are empowered to call in resources, even at 2am on a holiday weekend – if you have that level of trust and authority – within your own organization – then you might just do ok at this position.

If you absolutely love talking to customers – even the mad ones (especially the mad ones!) – then you may even love this job.

But don’t expect it to be MON-FRI 9-5.  You won’t win that way.  You need to be available for your customers when they want, how they want, and where they want.  And you need to talk to them about WHAT they want to talk about.

If you are the Community Manager it should never be about you.  And you should be able to call anyone – even the Chairman – even at 2am.  Whatever it takes to keep a customer happy.

I can – but have never needed to.  But if people KNOW you have that ability you will probably NEVER have to wake the Chairman 🙂


  1. I just couldn’t think of a more ideal person for this role than you…

  2. @Jenn – wow – we have the same jobs, it seems 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the post. I plan on doing a lot more posting about my role as the Director of Customer Development – a “made up” role that we are just figuring out how to make a real deal.

    Thanks for reading!


  3. Your comment – “I don’t ‘just do Twitter’, or ‘manage the blog'” – makes me smile. I’m lucky that my company (Appozite, a very small startup of which I’m a co-founder) understands and values my role as community manager, but I sometimes wonder if other people get what I do. I have a friend who seems surprised that “playing with Twitter” is a full-time job. 🙂

    Like you said, what we do is much more than Twitter, a blog and a Facebook fan page. Managing a community requires an always-on, multitasking mentality. I always have a dozen web browser tabs open at once, while I’m writing one blog post, commenting on another, answering an email, scheduling a conference call, reading an article, Googling something, and scrolling through RSS feeds. What we do is 25% interaction and 75% observation. But that observation has to happen all the time – we can’t take time off. Because our users don’t.

    Anyway, great post!