The Secret Skills of a Community Manager

This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

What, really, is a community manager and just what the hell does that person do all day?

Here, I’ll answer some FAQs:

Q: “You manage online communities? What’s that like?” A: Herding cats.

Q: “Do you just tweet all day?” A: Pretty much.

Q: (after explaining the job) “I still have no idea what it is you do, exactly.” Don’t worry. Neither do I.

In all seriousness, I get asked often what being a community manager is all about, and not just by people outside of marketing. It’s actually pretty common to get an email or LinkedIn note from people who have community manager in their title. I won’t bother answering the “what’s a community manager?” question here though.

Jenn Pedde already did that in "What A Community Manager is Not" and Kapost in their "Content Marketing Hiring Handbook”.

The characteristics of great community managers have already been covered in depth by DDN Corp’s Erika Heald in “7 Traits to Screen For When Hiring a Community Manager” and Tim Nickles in “How to Hire a Community Manager.

What I will do in this post is let you in on some lesser known (or at least lesser mentioned) humorous traits of community managing talent.

We. See. EVERYTHING. If the question starts “Did you see the…”, yes we did, and have already queued it up in our social tools. It’ll go live shortly. “But what about the -“ Yep, saw that too and responded already. Load us up with networks and notifications. We got this.

The secret here? Sometimes nifty tools that pull multiple streams into one place, but the more likely answer is a microchip implanted in the brains of all community managers.

We know every pop culture reference ever. Community managers have the uncanny ability to cite pop culture references that span far beyond what would be a normal realm of knowledge. Case in point to the left.

I responded to Ann Handley from the Kapost account with a timely and appropriate Kojak reference. I have no idea how or why I know who Kojak is, nor how or why I recognized Ann’s original reference. But I did. And I nailed the reply.

The secret here? Being really good at Google.

We’re really good at Google. Community managers excel at finding things on the internet and that’s in large part because of Google. Really, you can find anything on Google. Seriously. I just Googled “Unicorns in Florida” and look what came up:

When we have to find valuable information quickly - like a person’s contact information or a GIF for the brilliant pop culture reference we’re about to do - we often turn to Google. We know the productivity tips and tricks to search efficiently and effectively.

IF you need help looking something up, turn to a community manager. But be warned, if it’s a dumb question your response may come in Let Me Google That For You form.

The secret here? Well, let me Google that for you

We have a meme and/or GIF ready for all scenarios. Some community managers keep a folder or database handy for snappy, visual responses to online interactions or internal emails. I prefer the improv method, allowing inspiration to strike me on the spot. I frequently get asked where I come up with the responses I send. The answer lies in a mix of an over active imagination and a great set of GIF websites I totally won’t tell you about.

The secret here?

We’re awesome. Finally, we’re awesome. Check that. We’re hashtag awesome. As anyone who has ever worked with a community manager knows, the awesomeness is hard to contain, really. It just radiates off us at all times.

With being always online comes the necessity to be always “on”. That means we always have to be monitoring activity within communities, looking for opportunities to engage, and then always engaging with timely and appropriate responses. That level of “on”-ness takes awesomeness and even hashtag awesomeness.

The secret here? You’re given your awesomeness when you get hired. It’s kind of like how cops get a standard issue badge, gun and mustache.

Okay, if you made it this far, you’re a champ. While I jest throughout this post, the traits here are founded in reality. Community managers are on the go at all times, and seem to be everywhere at once. It’s stretching, but it’s what comes with the position. We’re a special breed of person, and I personally love the sometimes madness involved in being a community manager.

My next post will feature a more realistic look behind the scenes of community management. Thanks for reading.