Your Business Needs an Online Community Manager

by Ken Mueller on February 6, 2012 · 21 comments


Image via Wikipedia

The world of online communications and Social Media has created a whole new job category in recent years: the Community Manager.

For some businesses the Community Manager might be a job in and of itself, complete with description, salary, and an office. For others, it might be a task that is assigned to an existing employee, often in marketing or communications.

These days, at least in my world, we throw the term “community manager” around as if it has always existed. We don’t think about its origins, even though it is probably only about ten years old. Wikipedia finds the roots of the Community Manager in the old online Bulletin Board system operators or “sysops”.

I remember speaking to a group of small non-profit agencies when I was asked how often they should be posting updates on Facebook. While there is no “one size fits all” answer, I told them that they should be posting at least one update a day, in order to at least get a chance of showing up in the news feeds of their fans.

They were OK with that, until I went a step further. I told them that optimally, they should really be posting 2, 3, or even 4 updates a day, dispersed throughout the day. The way they looked at me, you would’ve thought I had just told them to give up their paychecks and work for free. A hand shot up:

“So what you’re saying is that we really ought to hire someone to do social media full time…?”

Nothing could be further from the truth. But somehow, the leap from one to four status updates a day had their heads spinning. Even if you put a lot of thought into it, and include some photos or video, four updates a day takes you…oh…maybe ten minutes total. Right?

Here’s the thing

In order to have a strong social presence online, you should have a Community Manager.

But that doesn’t mean you have to hire one. I’m betting that you already have a Community Manager in-house. In fact, I know you do.

Forgetting the Internet, ask yourselves these questions to discover your Community Manager:

  • Who handles your offline community?
  • Who works with your customers and the general public on a daily basis?
  • Who answers the phone or emails?
  • Who handles complaints from customers?
  • To whom in your business do customers ask to speak?

Now, who is your Community Manager?

In a small business, that might be you. Or it could be your office manager. It might even be someone who works at the front desk or checkout counter. You might even have more than one. There’s nothing wrong with having several people share the duties.

The key to turning the tasks of Community Manager over to one or more of your employees is making sure that they:

  • Understand how social media works
  • Enjoy social media
  • Understand your business inside and out
  • Have access to those within the organization who can provide answers

The person doesn’t even have to be an outgoing people person. Sometimes an introvert has what it takes to engage with others online where they can flourish. You might find them by seeing how they engage on their personal social media platforms.

And trust? Well, I’ve heard many say that they don’t trust their employees to use social media during the work day.


You don’t trust the people that you hired? You don’t trust the people who engage with your clients and customers face to face every day?

Sounds more like a hiring, management, and culture problem than an employee problem.

But I digress. Yes, you do need a Community Manager (or team). No, you don’t need to hire one.

Look at your business and find the right person, or people, to do the job. I’m betting they’re already there.

Who is your Community Manager? Is there someone on your staff that would be perfect for the job?



Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR

Spot on with this, Ken. Sadly, I don't believe companies can see the forest through the trees until they get the value of social media marketing. Then, and only then, will all these titles fall into place.

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@mycmgr Awesome! Looks like I can put "sysops" on my resume now for Community Manager experience. Ah, the old BBS, 14400 baud days!


@mycmgr - Also, Community Manager =/= Social Media Manager. Whilst CM may have duties in SM, there is WAY more than social networks. #cmgr


@mycmgr - Article has some facts incorrect and is kinda unfocused. Whilst in theory, I grok what they are saying. Just not well said.


My favorite one is always the "I don't trust my employees to be on social media" excuse. Wow. You work with adults who have a job to do and you don't trust them to know when it's appropriate to use Facebook and when it's not? You do know if you don't allow it on your work computers, they're using their phones to get on there during the day? That's akin to saying I don't trust my employees to go to trade shows or answer the phone or send email. Give me a break.


@vietducnguyen LOL! We are really enjoying all the comments and suggestions this post brought about. A little humor goes a long way!


@mycmgr There's a difference between just an online customer service manager and #cmgr, it's messing with an already misunderstood industry.


@kmueller62 Most definitely Ken. As I've rentered the job market & now do consulting, the community manager position is an ideal fit for me!

KenMueller moderator

@ginidietrich And the employees they trust the least are probably the ones who have the most contact with their customers. If you're a store, it's the person at the checkout counter. The lowest paid person on your staff. It makes no sense.


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