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  • Writer's pictureJosh Simons

The Crux of Community Management

As I’ve been mentally prepping for job interviews over the last few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about what value a community manager brings to an organization, and what reasons someone might be looking to hire one. Since I’ve been thinking about it, I figured it might be helpful to share those thoughts here in case they can help anyone else as they think about what makes a community manager such an important part of the team.


There are three main things that I keep circling back to:


Trust.

Your audience likes to know who they can go to when they have an issue. Knowing that it’s someone specific, someone they can relate to, and someone that cares about their issue goes a long way in building trust in the brand. Arguably the primary responsibility that a community manager has is to be that point of contact between the company and the community, and to represent the community’s interests internally at the company. When the community know that it’s John - the guy they see answering questions, posting memes, and hanging out in community spaces, they feel more confident that their voice is being heard by the company.


Clearing Hurdles.

When preparing to launch a new product, your community manager is an essential part of the pre-launch process. As someone who knows what your audience cares about, they can test the product and point out issues that will likely be the most important to fans. If you can resolve those things in QA before your product releases, it can lead to a much smoother launch, with an immediate wave of positive feedback. Similarly, as you think about your marketing approach, your community manager is likely in-tune with the concerns of your audience, and can help you avoid potentially dangerous talking points.


This goes even further, if your community manager is involved at all with developing your products, as they may be able to predict where users will get confused or frustrated, which allows you to plan ahead and resolve those issues.


Open Communication.

Going hand-in-hand with building trust, your community manager often takes point on communicating with your fans any time there’s an update or a release and plays an active role in gathering and organizing useful feedback. They help you hear what your audience’s real pain points are, as opposed to differences in preference, and they make sure that your community feels like they’re involved in the process.


When my soon-to-be wife and I first started dating, she didn’t really understand what I did for work and I didn’t do a very good job of talking about it. This caused her to feel like she never knew what I was up to. When she told me that’s how she was feeling - like she wasn’t in the loop with what was happening in my life, I made a point of telling her a little bit about my day as often as I could, even if it was just a small frustration or funny anecdote. It worked! She felt more involved in my daily life. A community manager plays that role of communicating with your company’s audience. Even if there isn’t a lot to update them on, they’ll appreciate knowing that you’re working on something specific, or at least knowing where your short-term priorities are.


You don’t need to share every milestone and update, but a weekly rundown of things that are being actively worked on (assuming nothing is top secret) or a general rundown of what the next priority is, can go a long way in making your community feel valued and involved in your journey. This, in turn, makes them feel more invested in what you’re doing, and will lead to more audience engagement.


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So there you have it! Three core parts of what a community manager brings to the table, and three ways that they add value to your company that may not be easily measured by KPIs. A lot of community management is about having empathy, building relationships, and making sure that your customers feel valued. It’s not easy work, but when it’s done well, it can have massive dividends.


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