Where Do Community Managers Come From?

Recently, I published a report called How to Hire for Social Computing, it indicates what management should look for, how to manage them, and how they should think about compensating them.

Just over a week ago, I put out a call to the industry that we were hiring a Community Manager. Because I was a Community Manager and write about it frequently, I received an above normal response rate, 19 Resumes were submitted. Keep in mind, that some of these folks are not community managers, but they’ve all aspired to be in the role.

I promised to protect everyone’s identity, (as many of them are currently employed) but here are the high level findings at average:

A Persona of the Community Manager (based on 19 resumes)

Years of Work Experience
An average of 10.61 Years

Current roles
A majority are working in Marketing or are currently social media position (community manager or social media strategist)

What Industries did they come from?
Most are in tech or media or PR. A handful working in education, religious or non-profit (makes sense as these inexpensive tools have great reach)

Education
Most have a BA or BS, followed by many with MBAs and a handful without a degree.

I think I’m in one of the most rare positions in the industry to have my hands on so many Community Manager resumes in one place, especially so early in the industry

Interesting, I fit almost exactly into that persona: 9 years exp, Marketing exp, from Tech, and Bachelor degree.

15 Replies to “Where Do Community Managers Come From?”

  1. Community Managers are a bit of a special breed IMHO. Part marketing, part customer service, part helpdesk, etc.

    Marketers tend to be great at telling a story, but not always so good at listening. More than half the job of being a good Community Manager is listening (not just responding).

    It would be great if you could publish the deciding criteria once you pick someone.

  2. Interesting. I am in non-profit, have a MA in Integrated Marketing and am extremely interested in this field. I think the non-profit aspect lends itself well to this: creating beneficial relationships among users for societal gain. Its not a new concept, but unfortunately seems to be ‘new’ to business marketing. I’d like to hear more about this work – and who’s looking for people.

  3. The persona descriptions are heavy on demographics – some argue that good personas highlight motivations, goals, and behaviors. Having resume’s are cool, but making sense of the intangibles may be interesting as well.

    For fun, here is a wild guess of two personas you may run in to:

    Jane the Ambitious – Jane has an uncanny ability to find the next big thing and quickly insert her self in the loop. Jane relies on firms to make selections based on lingo and buzzwords.

    Sally the community builder – Sally is terrible with managing her career but her empathy and sincere interest in the matters of her community translate into trust and love among those who know her. She has a natural talent to find and be involved in the conversations that matter. Given a good venue, Sally will shine.

  4. VK

    I agree, the personas are just on demographic. We could round out the research formally with psychographics as well.

    I still think this role is evolving so putting an official ‘persona’ stamp may too early.

  5. Rob

    Community managers are a special breed, as social media impacts many departments in the company. In fact, it’s easier to list the departments they WONT interact with.

  6. Jeremiah,

    Thanks for the reply and I agree it’s still early to have an understanding for the web community organizer but occasionally, when faced with a design project that involves something new (read: all) the use of persona’s (a design artifact) can still come into play if one study’s analogous situations – creative research yields valuable insights – so, where do we find community builders?
    -Union organizers?
    -Political campaigners?
    -Organizers of technical standards?
    -Vertical marketers?
    -etech/bar camp types?

    I totally agree that it’s to early to find the best of community marketers on social networks but could the necessary qualities could be found in analogous situations where the dna lurks.
    Early respondents to job listings or followers or emerging markets have other skills, the best community organizers may be too busy with their communities to follow this early market.

  7. I kind of like Rob’s description:)

    I think a Community Manager is more of a Customer Evangelist, something that may require knowledge in more than one field (marketing,product, customer service, SEO, etc.) The primary problem is that a lot of orgs look at these folks as “customer service”, which gives a great deal of disservice to what they actually do on a daily basis.

    I also think, IMHO, that the term “Community” is thrown around a little loosely these days & that there are some key differences as to what it means. Some companies, for example, look at their Community Manager as their champion at tech events (speaking, etc.); other companies look for folks to engage in multiple internal groups to find solutions to problems facing the company.

    P.S. You didn’t receive my resume because I am quite happy:)

  8. This is neat. It would be very interesting to see with a larger sample, where the “community folk” are coming from, educational background, how they got into it, and what part of the large arena interests them most. Some folks want to code, some folks want the user experience/UI design, some want to rally the members and blog to them or whatever – community management is a multiple personality/discipline gig as far as I can tell. 🙂

    Keep it going!

    Betsy

  9. I’ve often thought that community managers are more cultivators than anything. They bring out the inherent good – whether that is helpful folks on a bulletin board, eloquent writers, ardent organizers, or just ‘policers’ – they may at times be almost ‘invisible’ – simply ensuring that the whole ecology of the community is functioning and growing well.

    I think online community management is a bit like growing a garden.

  10. The persona descriptions are heavy on demographics – some argue that good personas highlight motivations, goals, and behaviors. Having resume's are cool, but making sense of the intangibles may be interesting as well.

    For fun, here is a wild guess of two personas you may run in to:

    Jane the Ambitious – Jane has an uncanny ability to find the next big thing and quickly insert her self in the loop. Jane relies on firms to make selections based on lingo and buzzwords.

    Sally the community builder – Sally is terrible with managing her career but her empathy and sincere interest in the matters of her community translate into trust and love among those who know her. She has a natural talent to find and be involved in the conversations that matter. Given a good venue, Sally will shine.

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