How Do I Become a Community Manager?
Community management is a critical part of any organization’s marketing strategy.
Whether it’s developing a blog presence, building social media channels, or monitoring discussion forums, community managers have a hand in each of an organization’s online communities in order to engage customers, analyze trends, and track brand identity. (The internet being what it is, they’re often on the front lines of crisis management, as well.) During a time of radical business-to-consumer disruption, the community manager acts as a passionate organizational representative as well as an eager listener, understanding that strong relationships build brand loyalty, and brand loyalty builds strong organizations.
In short, the stakes are high, and job opportunities are on the rise. For those interested in becoming a community manager, we’ve highlighted job prospects, salary expectations, and relevant education and skills. But first, let’s take a closer look at the job description and responsibilities of a community manager.
Job Description and Responsibilities for Community Managers
- Plan and implement social media and communication campaigns to align with marketing strategies
- Coordinate with marketing, PR and communications teams to ensure brand consistency across multiple platforms and campaigns
- Follow or develop all company public-facing communication guidelines, including language, voice, and style
- Respond to comments and customer queries in a timely and polite manner
- Foster relationships with customers, prospects, industry peers, and journalists
- Monitor and report customer feedback and reviews to team members
- Analyze web traffic trends to identify and hone effective online strategies
- Locate individual prospects and communities for business development opportunities
- Research latest relevant tools and technologies
- Plan and attend online and real-world meet-ups for your community
Job Prospects and Salary for Community Managers
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings in media and communications (industries that occasionally overlap with community management) are expected to add more than 40,000 jobs over the next decade. On the other hand, the BLS tends to group community and social media managers under public relations and the marketing, promotions, and advertising umbrella. In that case, jobs are projected to grow 9-10% through 2026 and add around 50,000 jobs. Bottom line: it’s clear the industry is growing, and jobs are trending up.
Payscale reports the median annual salary for community managers at just under $50k per year, but that number can vary significantly between organizations. High-earning community managers make up to $80k, and a community director title pushes salaries into the $130-150k range. Because the position is still relatively new and underpopulated, there’s plenty of room for advancement, including career tracks to roles as a Marketing Manager, Marketing Communications Manager, Digital Marketing Manager, or Marketing Director.
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Using Your Education to Become a Community Manager
The majority of community managers (about 66%) have at least a bachelor’s degree, though no specific academic training is required for the job. Still, if you want to stand out among the competition, the most practical degree is a bachelor’s in marketing, where you’ll learn the ins-and-outs of the trade and pick up some hands-on experience. Typical course work includes:
- Principles of Marketing
- Marketing Strategy
- Marketing Research
- Supply Chain Management
- Consumer Behavior
- Organizational Behavior
Specialized master’s degrees, particularly for programs in Social Media or Public Relations, are certainly helpful but, again, far from mandatory. If you’re interested in practical, affordable education options, we’ve highlighted some of the best digital marketing bootcamps as well as marketing MOOCs, which tend to emphasize career-oriented skills and feature industry-leading instructors. Alternatively, many community managers are self-taught professionals. Keep up with latest in marketing technology, find some relevant books to read, and follow your favorite marketing professionals on social media.
Using Your Skills and Experience to Become a
Experience is a plus, but nearly 80% of community managers have less than five years on the job. Your skill set is much important. Among the most important?
- Written Communication: Community managers must be able to communicate in a clear, effective, and memorable manner, with a focus on brand identity and business development goals.
- Customer Service: Serving current customers is just as important as developing new relationships, and implementing best practices for customer service is key.
- Organization: While “multi-tasking” may be a thing of the past, task-switching is a major part of the community manager’s job, whether it’s moving rapidly from one social media platform to the next, checking web analytics, or checking up on a customer service ticket.
- Adaptability: On that note, community managers need to be nimble online. Adapt or die.
- Critical and Analytical Thinking: The internet carries vast potential, both good and bad. Community managers need to have excellent critical-thinking skills (and solid common sense) to capitalize on the positive potential while mitigating actions that hurt the brand — sometimes easier said than done.
Last but not least, certain certifications can help you gain a competitive edge and stay updated on the tech side. These include:
- AMA Certified Professional Marketer
- DMA Certification
- Google Analytics
- Google AdWords
- Facebook Blueprint
- Twitter Flight School
- MediaBistro Social Media Certifications