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Published March 27th 2014

Have You Got What it Takes to be a Compelling Community Manager?

Behind every thriving online community you will find a committed and creative community manager.

Dedicated to maintaining their relationships a CM handles a variety of different tasks in their role.

One moment they could be promoting a new product while the next they are firefighting customer service enquires.

But, what does it take to be a successful CM?

What makes them tick!?

To find out I asked a selection of the best community managers out there for their thoughts, so let’s five head first into their hectic world!

This is an overview of our forthcoming mini-series of posts on community management.


What are the traits of a successful community manager?


When drilling into of what it takes to be an inspiring CM it seemingly comes back to one major emotion: passion.

Having an intense enjoyment of what you are doing overarches all the activities undertaken by a manager.

Brandie McCallum, who is a freelance community manager, explains that “a CM isn’t just one type of person, it’s a passion and loving what you do, whether you are a chatter monkey or wallflower.”


Enjoying your role is important as it can sometimes bring negativity.

Katrina Steffensen, the community manager for Gatorade, highlighted how it can be difficult receiving negative reactions online from disgruntled fans, that see CMs as ‘the brand’ and not a human presence.

Having empathy and understanding for those in your selected community allows for better interactions to occur and for growth.

Being a community manager is not just about relying on established generic traits, but playing off your own strengths to create a community that is filled with personality.


Which tools are recommended for managing a community?


There are no set rules when it comes to managing a community, but having tools in place make for quick and easy processes.

Hootsuite is a frequent favourite among CMs for social media management.

It offers a vast range of features to assist with  the endless list of demands from CMs.

With Hootsuite now integrated with Brandwatch Analytics, it makes for easy monitorization of brands on a singular platform for those looking after multiple communities.

Alex Pollock who manages the online community for Castrol states,

“Hootsuite is the ideal tool for cost-effective community management. It allows you to link in numerous social channels, monitor keyword and also gives you access to some fairly decent analytics.”

Rebecca Bragilo the community engagement manager for Pet360 recommends using Trello for managing community projects and the creation of general to-do lists.

Some managers choose to take things back to basics by using spreadsheets to control their editorial calendars, but this seems to vary depending on the size of communities and personal preferences.


The biggest challenges for CMs and how to overcome them


When it comes to challenges all CMs face different difficulties depending on their own social experiences.

A demanding factor for many is the realisation that you cannot be in your community 24/7.

Taking a step back and analyzing the situation is needed for effective decision making.

Tim McDonald, the director of community at the Huffington Post, expresses that it is important to set yourself priorities and to understand that some projects can wait.

He states “this helped me to become more efficient but also less stressed”.
Restraining own ambitions is also a challenge for community managers.

Being a creative bunch, the amount of ideas generated cannot always be achieved.

Sherrie Rohde, from My Community Manager, says that her biggest challenge is not to overwhelm her design and dev team.

Understanding that your department is part of an even greater organisation is an important consideration that all CMs must learn.

Hopefully that’s been a nice refresher on the basic issues in community management.

Stay tuned for more in our series of in-depth looks at the traits of a successful community manager!

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