Today (January 23th) is Community Manager Appreciation Day. And community managers certainly deserve it. Their value is often overlooked, but community managers are the ones who build and maintain organizations of tight-knitted people, whether in a personal or professional setting. Community Managers add value to both the corporate world and to the lives of individuals.
But when can you call yourself a community builder, what do community managers do, and why does community management matter? Time to find out!
What is a community?
But first, let’s look at what an online community is. Marketing Business news defines it as follows:
“A group of people who have a common interest and communicate through the internet.”
People gather together on specific online platforms like Reddit, Twitter or Discord. They connect with those who have similar values, goals, and interests. In an online community group, members share ideas, questions, and advice relevant to the overarching theme of the community. At the same time, we should not underestimate the personal aspect of a community. Yes, online communities foster valuable personal and professional relationships.
Examples of online communities
Let’s look at some examples of online communities.
In 2020, right after graduating, I joined the #MarketingTwitter-community on Twitter. There, we share Marketing-ideas and advice (the community taught me a lot about SEO and Copywriting), but we also use Twitter to have fun, share personal updates, and spread positive chaos.
My cousin created a Facebook group of passionate knitters, where people from across the world share updates about their projects and build personal relationships.
HubSpot, the popular Marketing and Sales SaaS tool, built a community where HubSpot-users can share their knowledge of and experiences with the tool.
Making a community strong
Now, we all know that quality goes over quantity. As you can imagine, some communities can grow big, but at the same time become chaotic, too professional, irrelevant, or outdated. Other communities may have massive potential, but are inactive.
That is where community managers come in. They are the ones who turn a physical or online group of people into a safe space, where value, knowledge, and support are continuously shared. A platform, where everyone can connect with one another and share their voice, their value.
What community managers do
The goal of a community manager is to make people feel seen and heard. Members must feel part of the community. Essentially, what community managers do, is building relationships at massive scale, getting in touch with hundreds to thousands of members each day. Community builders care about their peers, make them feel appreciated, and do their best to improve a member’s experience in a community.
A community management narrative that always stuck with me was coined by Christina Garnett, Principle Marketing Manager, Offline Community and Advocacy at HubSpot.
In many Twitter Spaces I attended, she portrayed Community Managers as the ones who make others feel welcome at a party. When a new person enters the room, the community manager greets them, asks about their hobbies, and lets the new person do the talking. Then, the community manager introduces the new person to the group. A vivid and fun conversation arises. It’s like the new person knew these people for ages. Everyone felt comfortable at that party. People exchange contacts and plan to meet again.
You could argue that community builders are social animals. In the end, being social matters. Good communication makes or breaks a community. Building relationships matters too. The more valuable relationships you have in a community you’re part of, the more loyal you’ll be to that community. In the end, you want to stay in touch with your friends that care about you the most.
But we shouldn’t label community managers as talkative extraverts, right away. In fact, what makes community managers so powerful, is that they let others do the talking. They do something that is called social listening: give the mic to your community members. Get to know who they are and find out about what they think of your brand, your product, and your community.
In order to create a safe space where everyone feels seen and heard, community managers must create rules and make sure that they are followed by all members. In the end, you want your community to remain relevant and valuable to all members. For instance, people of my cousin’s knitting community aren’t going to like me spamming the feed with Copywriting hacks.
And if anyone in the community doesn’t feel at ease, or if one of the most vocal community members turns silent, community managers are the first ones to contact these people. It is always their goal to make everyone feel part of the community.
The opposites of AI
And in a world that becomes increasingly influenced by AI, a growing amount of people values human connection over robots. And this is where Community Managers add a lot of value: they’re human, talk like humans, they’re empathetic and they have a customer-centric mind. They are happy to spend hours of their day listening to other people’s ideas, pride and concerns. It’s because they know that human connection matters.
What is the benefit of community building
Because of all the things mentioned above, community managers become more and more important. In the past years, a growing amount of companies have been creating community manager job positions. But why? What is the ROI of a community manager?
Back to the party narrative we talked about earlier. Community Managers make you feel welcome and help you make friends. In a professional context, these managers establish a platform where members can network and create opportunities together.
With this Tweet, Christina Garnett connected tens of thousands of Marketers from across the world with one another. It resulted in Marketers starting businesses and projects together, people getting hired by member, and marketers meeting up in real life.
Community members become brand ambassadors
What happens when you like a community that much? You talk about it with your friends, family, and colleagues. You become a loyal community member.
In a professional context, loyal members could become brand ambassadors. They can spread their love and knowledge about your community, your company, your product, your service, your employees who made them feel heard and seen. And by doing so, these ambassadors drive prospects to your company.
Community members share valuable information
Another reason why corporate brands focus more on building online communities, is because members can share a lot of valuable insights about your brand, community, product and service.
Insights about your community
As said before, loyal community members become brand ambassadors who share positive words about your community. With their positive enthusiasm, they invite others to your community.
And if someone is unhappy, a community manager will be the first one to interview that person and ask what they could change to make the experience more enjoyable.
Insights for your own company
If your community revolves around a product or service, every comment in the group is an opportunity for product marketing or product improvement. People might talk about benefits you haven’t even thought of. Send that to your Marketing and Sales team.
Maybe, a community manager notices that many people complain about the quality of the product packaging. Or maybe, people would love to see a new feature added to your SaaS service. Send that to your customer service team, R&D, IT, and whoever is responsible for the product.
Maybe, some product uses or benefits are unclear. You can answer questions with an FAQ blog or a video.
And you could go on and on. Community Managers are the ones who gather information, analyze the overall group sentiment, and identify trends and recurring topics. Then, they communicate their findings to the relevant departments, who can continue working on improving the product and promoting the brand.,
Community managers matter
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why community managers are a valuable asset to every organization. I wrote this summary with notes I took from a couple of social audio sessions (you can access some Twitter threads on these sessions below).
Here are some more valuable sources on the value of Community Management:
–6 reasons why community management is important in marketing – (zapnito.com)
The Ultimate Guide to Community Management (hubspot.com)