Community Manager Job Description, A Definitive Guide

by Erin Bury on Feb 17, 2011

Community ManagerWhen I met with Sarah Prevette about the Community Management job at Sprouter I had never heard the term before, and I really had no clue what the role meant within a company.

This was late 2008 and it was still a really new position, without definitive job descriptions or templates. She described the job as a mix of writing, PR, communications, and social media, and I thought “I can do that” without knowing what I was getting myself into.

Defining A New Role

Obviously the rest is history, and it seems like the position of Community Manager was made for me. But despite the fact that it’s almost two and a half years later, I still get asked all the time about what a Community Manager does and the skills employers should look for when they’re hiring one for their business.

I haven’t seen a template circulating around – so why not put one together to help small businesses who are looking to add one to their company?

So here’s my stab at putting together a Community Manager job description – obviously you need to tailor it to your company’s needs. If you have more of an emphasis on in-person networking, or on social media analytics/metrics, then make sure to include that. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all description, but it’s a place to start.

Community Manager job description

A Community Manager is the face of a company, managing communications in both directions. This digital-savvy employee is responsible for all communications, PR, social media, events, and content creation, among other things.

It’s a Web 2.0 communications role, incorporating online tools and in-person networking to create relationships and ultimately build the company’s brand, both online and off.

While every day as a Community Manager is different, this is what the role’s responsibilities may include:

1. Content creation - writing blog posts, articles, newsletters, communications materials, and material for social media channels

2. Social media marketing – creating, managing and growing the company’s presence through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other strategically relevant online properties

3. Events and event planning – attending industry events in your city (often outside of 9-5 hours) and planning meetups for your community

4. Public relations – (note: some companies may have devoted PR departments so this may not be relevant) managing incoming media requests and building relationships with industry journalists; creating, executing and measuring media campaigns

5. Customer relations – the Community Manager is often responsible for customer support – answering questions however they come in (phone, e-mail, Twitter) and managing any online feedback forums such as GetSatisfaction pages

6. Communications/marketing strategy – the Community Manager is responsible for creating strategic marketing/communications plans to provide direction for the company’s public-facing communications

7. Analytics – Using Google Analytics and other measurement tools to provide reports on metrics, and continually find ways to improve on those metrics through testing and new initiatives

8. Business development - Depending on the company and depending on how senior the role is, a Community Manager can also be responsible for business development and sales

How To Hire A Community Manager

Here are the skills to look for when hiring a Community Manager:

1. Outgoing personality - they will be required to walk into networking events and be comfortable introducing themselves to strangers

2. Writing skills – a background in journalism or experience with writing helps since they’ll be creating so much content for your company

3. Social media experience – experience with social media tools isn’t a must, but it’s definitely helpful and cuts down on training. Look for someone who can navigate WordPress and understands Twitter and Facebook for business

4. Interest in your industry – a Community Manager needs to be passionate about what they do. If they’re not interested in your product or service move on

5. Willingness to work around the clock – being a Community Manager isn’t a 9-5 job. Make sure they understand that the job involves working some evenings and weekends, and responding to community members outside of work hours (but please, please compensate them accordingly)

6. Good employee – The skills you would look for any employee apply here: great time management skills, ability to multitask, intelligence – but they’re especially important for a Community Manager since they’re managing so many different areas of the business. Look for someone smart who doesn’t get stressed under pressure

7. PR experience – having experience with public relations is a nice to have, especially if it’s a focus for your business

8. Culture fit - this especially applies if you’re at a small company. The person needs to get along with your other employees and needs to mesh with the company’s culture

9. Education – I’m a big believer in valuing intelligence, personality and overall fit before looking at a degree. But if it really matters to you, look for someone with a degree in journalism, communications or English, or someone with a PR or corporate communications certificate

I’m a big believer that experience doesn’t equal ability – if you meet someone with no experience but they’re smart as a whip and extremely passionate about what you’re doing you might want to give them a chance. After all, when I started at Sprouter I didn’t have a Twitter account and had never written a blog post in my life.

You’d be surprised how quickly people can pick these skills up, so look for the things that can’t be taught in a month – charisma, personality, and intelligence.

If you’re looking for more advice on how to hire digitally-savvy employees I recommend reading Inbound Marketing by Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan. They devote a chapter to picking and measuring your people, and they get to the heart of what to look for in a digital employee. They advise employers to hire digital citizens; to hire for analytical chops; to hire for web reach; and to hire content creators. I especially love their checklist of questions to ask potential employees – the go beyond “do you have a Twitter account” to questions like what blogs they read, whether they rank first for their name in Google, and what RSS reader they use.

Hopefully this is helpful, and if you have anything to add to this description feel free to add it in the comments.

A Couple Sample Community Manager Job Descriptions

From RGA

Summary of Position:
The Community Manager is an appointed administrator for clients’ corporate social media communities (i.e. Facebook Page). The Community Manager is responsible for moderating User Generated Content that appears and escalating any issues to the appropriate internal/client teams.

Key Responsibilities:
Community Strategy 30%

  • Assist with creation, conception, and presentation of social media strategy and integrated marketing campaigns.
  • Interpret the direction of strategy/planning and creative leads.
  • Communicate and coordinate client service, production and strategy/planning teams ensuring that community strategy supports overall brand goals and objectives.


Management & Moderation 60%

  • Listening & Reporting

o Utilitze social listening tools like Radian6 and Buzzlogic to generate insights
o Summarize insights and conversations to create actionable, client-facing reports that lead to optimization

  • Publishing

o Create and maintain Content Calendars, including writing Facebook Status Updates
o Post relevant content in accordance with Content Calender

  • Moderation

o Review user generated comments and posts in a quick and timely manner
o Respond to comments, when appropriate, in order to foster a positive community and add value to the user’s experience.
o Enforce the Social Media Guidelines as defined by the brand.
o Escalate User Generated Content, where appropriate, to internal and client stakeholders.

Team leadership 10%

  • Participate constructively in inter-department and cross-service line communications

Pre-Requisites:

  • Actively participates in a wide variety of social media activities such as blogging, community development and management, social bookmarking, commenting, etc.
  • Understanding of popular social networks – design, functionality, users
  • Demonstrated ability to produce community management guidelines and documents that reflects the holistic understanding and implementation of the role of social media and its effects.
  • Proficiency in PowerPoint and presentation tools and skills.
  • Porificiency in social listening tools like Radian6 and Buzzlogic.
  • Exceptional communication skills within the agency team.
  • Very high attention to detail.
  • Excellent verbal, written, and presentation skills.

Qualifications:

  • 2 to 3 years of experience managing social media platforms or communities for brands
  • Undergraduate degree in communications, marketing, advertising, public relations, media studies, business and/or related fields.

From 360i

Community Management Specialist
360i is looking for a Community Management Specialist to serve as the initial point of contact for inbound requests from online properties and the web at large. The Community Management Specialist will be responsible for ensuring active and engaged communities around a defined topic or topics by managing long-lead editorial calendars, monitoring online conversations and participating in those conversations to build brand visibility and thought leadership. The goal is to establish a presence for our partners as well as to integrate their messaging into the community in a compelling and valuable way for the members. In this role, you will work directly with our Digital Communities Director within our exciting Emerging Media practice.

About 360i – Over a Decade of Digital Innovation
We’re a next generation digital agency rooted in innovation and drive. We don’t walk; we run. We don’t follow; we lead. We dream, and then we do. Our ideas are big, but our results are bigger. Bigger still is our collective pursuit of positive change – the innovations that will move our industry forward in new and exciting directions.

The digital world changes fast — and our employees are just as dynamic. Our backgrounds and strengths are diverse, yet we’re all fueled by an innate curiosity that inspires us to blaze new trails and a shared belief in the power of the web to forge deeper relationships between brands and consumers. If you’re sharp, creative and forward-thinking – and if complacency isn’t in your vocabulary – drop us a line. It takes a special kind of person to work here, and we hope that’s you.

Requirements:

  • Experience developing and implementing tactical plans — including inspired and moderated solutions — that build and nurture online communities
  • Demonstrated expertise in engaging and activating community groups
  • Experience locating and engaging advocates within the community to foster dialogue
  • Demonstrated ability to work with client on developing on-brand messaging that best represents their voice and tone online and incentivizing user-generated content creation and sharing
  • Experience establishing metrics, gleaning community insights and reporting/recommending strategies that achieve marketing goals
  • Understanding what’s possible on the various technology platforms and the ability to educate and integrate the needs of clients, creative team and developers
  • Excellent communication skills and creative writing skillsIf you have an entrepreneurial spirit, get excited about finding smarter ways to do things, and have a burning desire to be part of a winning team where you can truly make a difference, we want to meet you.

—-

Image source: Shutterstock.com

Post Author

After cutting her teeth managing public relations for tech companies, Erin joined Sprouter to better utilize my passion for networking, community-building & Web 2.0 technologies. As Community Manager, I'm the voice of the Sprouter community of entrepreneurs. Erin often speaks...

  • http://twitter.com/johnnormoyle John Normoyle

    Hi Erin, great post!
    I think its important to explain how the CM works with the rest of a organization’s communications, digital and marketing teams, so they do not end up silo-ed and fighting for air time. The CM is one of several faces of the organization, and a very public face at that. The CM is also typically working as part of a larger communications initiative of the company with shared responsibilities.
    Right now, typically a very small team, if not just one person, is doing 100% of a companies social media work. In time, I believe close to 100% of a company will be sharing 100% of the work as social media gets embedded in everything they do.
    John

  • http://www.markcregan.com Mark Regan

    Erin,

    This is pure gold! Since we are right in the middle of defining this new role within our company I have borrowed many of your nuggets to become part of the job posting.

    Thank you for jump start.

    Mark Regan

  • http://twitter.com/tab_b Tab Bourguignon

    This is fantastic, Erin! It really explains the role nicely. Great article!

  • SocialMediaHacker

    I think you left out the need to communicate to or add to a socialCRM. These people will be broken up into the new PR/Sales/Marketing geeks of our time.

  • http://www.unixbox.org SocialMediaHacker

    Great Article BTW…

  • SamanthaRose

    This is such a great article! As a student of public relations, this seems to be the perfect fit for me. Do you know of any job openings/companies that really focus on this type of thing? I had never heard of this position before and now I am intrigued (and may have found my dream position!).

  • SamanthaRose

    This is such a great article! As a student of public relations, this seems to be the perfect fit for me. Do you know of any job openings/companies that really focus on this type of thing? I had never heard of this position before and now I am intrigued (and may have found my dream position!).

  • Karen Baglin

    Love the job description … particularly # 9! People seem to forget that intelligence, communication skills and business savvy are different from specific skills, which can be taught.

    One of the questions I have for the companies at Social Fresh Tampa is ‘who owns social media organizationally?’ Is it marketing, PR or separate? I’m sure there are as many answers as there are companies. In the past, marketing and PR have both traditionally been organizations that push information out; with social media being more about engagement, interaction and developing a conversation with your audience, it’s interesting to see how this will develop over time.

    I’ll be following you on Twitter, Erin, when you come back from vacation:)

  • Karen Baglin

    Love the job description … particularly # 9! People seem to forget that intelligence, communication skills and business savvy are different from specific skills, which can be taught.

    One of the questions I have for the companies at Social Fresh Tampa is ‘who owns social media organizationally?’ Is it marketing, PR or separate? I’m sure there are as many answers as there are companies. In the past, marketing and PR have both traditionally been organizations that push information out; with social media being more about engagement, interaction and developing a conversation with your audience, it’s interesting to see how this will develop over time.

    I’ll be following you on Twitter, Erin, when you come back from vacation:)

  • http://jasonkeath.com jakrose

    Our keynote, Paula Berg, will be speaking to some of this on Tuesday. Are you attending Karen?

  • http://crowdbooster.com/ Ricky Yean

    What kind of organizations don’t need a community manager and how long has this position been around? Do they exist in most organizations? Great post Erin!

  • http://www.cahandavis.com Lisa Cahan Davis

    Excellent summary, Erin. I’ll be following you on Twitter. The word trust comes to mind when hiring anyone representing a company. Does management trust that person to be the voice of the company? Owners / management must empower their Community Manager to do their job without the complication of an approval process. If you or your peers have overcome the step of having content approved before dissemination, can you share some of the insights that converted management into letting the Community Manager make decisions quickly and on a timely basis?

  • http://www.cahandavis.com Lisa Cahan Davis

    Excellent summary, Erin. I’ll be following you on Twitter. The word trust comes to mind when hiring anyone representing a company. Does management trust that person to be the voice of the company? Owners / management must empower their Community Manager to do their job without the complication of an approval process. If you or your peers have overcome the step of having content approved before dissemination, can you share some of the insights that converted management into letting the Community Manager make decisions quickly and on a timely basis?

  • http://twitter.com/gerardocastano Gerardo Castano

    Great article and lots of interesting ideas…many companies are still struggling with this type of thing. You really get specific.

  • http://twitter.com/mikegalante Mike Galante

    Good post, Erin. I wanted to know, in your opinion, since the CM position is still very new, how much of its responsibilities are driven by the particular person who is filling the role? Using you as an example, do you think the position is where it is now because you are you, versus if someone with more / less / different experience had been hired for the job?

  • http://twitter.com/mikegalante Mike Galante

    Good post, Erin. I wanted to know, in your opinion, since the CM position is still very new, how much of its responsibilities are driven by the particular person who is filling the role? Using you as an example, do you think the position is where it is now because you are you, versus if someone with more / less / different experience had been hired for the job?

  • http://www.yinkaolaito.com Yinka olaito

    Great and apt description of a job that enhances corporate value

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  • Kelly Stocker (Yelp Austin)

    Here’s the Yelp CM job description! http://www.yelp.com/careers?jvi=or5MVfwX,Job

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  • http://about.me/brinstar Brinstar

    If I had a dollar for every article publish that claims community management is a “new” field or that this position is a “new” one, I’d be a millionaire. ;-) Online community management has been around for at least 15 – 20 years, if not longer. It is not a new role that needs defining, however the increase in social networking amongst the mainstream populace has meant that the community management role has expanded. For as long as there have been communities on the internet, there have been community managers–and yes, there have been paid positions in community management at actual companies for at least a decade or more.

    Just do a little bit of research on the field, and you’ll find veterans who have been at this profession for a very long time indeed. The videogames industry (particularly in the massively multi-player online games genre) is one of the fields in which community managements as a profession has a long and established presence. I’ve been an online community manager for only 4 years, but I know several who’ve been at this way longer than I.Suggestion: maybe you could talk to community managers who have been working in this profession for decades–maybe they would have some great advice on how to write a good job description for a community manager and provide some insightful historical context to your article. :-)

  • Lisa Angle

    I’m qualified and have experience. Now, if I could just get hired….

  • http://thejeffbrown.me Jeff Brown

    Hey Erin.  I liked your article, but would like you to update your about section.  It begins in the third person, awkwardly moves to first person for one sentence, then back to third person, and has at least two grammatical errors. 

    You should update that right away.  I don’t point this out to nitpick.  I just know that if it were me, I would appreciate knowing. 

    Regards,

    Jeff

  • ScottErdmann

    We are a start up company looking to hire a community manager and are willing to pay a competitive salary. Please forward your resume to ScottErdmann@yahoo.com if interested. Please have all these qualities stated in the above job description. 

  • http://investinsocial.com Jason Keath

    Goog luck with the community manager hunt Scott. We have a job post promotion product at Social Fresh as well. If we can help, please let us know http://socialfresh.com/social-media-job-listings/

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  • A.

    Just thought the EXACT same thing.

  • Ellen

    I love this! Since I started my own company people keep asking me what I’m doing. I find myself giving a job description (web designer, online reputation management, etc). Community Manager sums it up perfect. Although its not a new job title I do think it has evolved and become repurposed.
    Best part, it feels right for me.
    Thank you,
    Ellen

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  • Lutz

    PetCareRx is hiring a community manager – if you’re interested, send me your resume to: lutz@petcarerx.com

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  • Brianhancock

    Hello Erin, nice job, however I am interested to know why you or any of the other posts have yet not mentioned one of the recognized trade authority’s in the realm of Community Managers, specifically the Community Association Institute, This national body, based in VA provides everything anyone could ever want to know about the profession, including accreditation as a CAM,  (Community Association Manager). I respect the fact that your blog may be more specific to  Company Community Management, but  feel that your readers should be aware that there are options within the realm of Community Management.

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  • Factory Reset

    ??? Community Association Institute – as found on the internet – Provides education and resources to America’s residential condominium, cooperative, and homeowner associations, and to the professionals and suppliers who …

  • Sachin Ruhela

    Hey John, Can you just help me or share points to which I can nourish my CM domain. Actually I am looking for CM job abroad. But don’t know what would be the criteria or on which behalf they recruit me. You can also mail the following points to this email add:sruhela86@gmail.com….I would really thankful if you help me.

  • pam

    I’m curious to know if most CM’s are typically 20-somethings or would companies be open to hiring people with many years of traditional experience? I would like to know salary ranges.

  • Dustin

    This article is very useful and full of very good information for someone like myself who wants to pursue a career in this field. While I had an idea what community Management was due to talking with a couple from the game industry I now know what is expected of a community manager and where I need to work on to get to the stage of possibly being hired….

    One questions I have though is: I only have a starter qualification in something only mildly related to this field… What educational pursuits would you suggest in order to help me on the road to being a Community Manager?

  • http://www.facebook.com/alan.ashbaugh Alan Ashbaugh

    Thanks, Erin! I’ll be applying to community manager positions soon, and your role breakdown will be super helpful in deciding how to present myself in the best light.

  • Ellie B.

    Written in 2011, and still not adjusted nor any comments replied to? Hmmm…

  • Anuroop Banerjee

    Erin Bury.. Thanks for the elucidation of the Job Profile for Community Manager so precisely. You have hit the nail on the head by lucidly clarifying every aspect of the Job.
    Well Precisely, I came across your article today, after I was offered the role of an Online Community Manager at RJ Softwares, Kolkata, India and I am overwhelmed after reading through the ins and outs of the Job Description, ’cause you helped me learn the ‘Best Possible’ about my Job.
    Thank You!

  • http://narutospot.net/ ~ Risa-Chan ~

    This matches so much with what I do as a Community Manager. Some places have a different idea of what they see as the role of Community Manager for online operations but that is because it is such a mix of different jobs especially with a small company or if your a contractor; your often given more authority or responsibilities.

  • Sandra Harriette

    I feel that I can’t put into a box the kind of virtual assistant that I would need. I know I need to delegate a number of things related to some of the job tasks mentioned above. The term “community manager” came to me last night. I feel like I have found a winner.