What does it take to be a community manager?

Altimeter recently did a report on what it takes to be a community manager.  Three years ago the word Community Manager in the digital sense was pretty much unknown.  For many it started out as a role that involved some facebooking, tweeting, and blogging in an attempt to attract, and reach, an audience.  A sort of ‘let’s see what happens’ role. A Community Manager today, however, is also involved in strategy and taking a company into a new digital space. This is what Altimeter found:

Out of 30 Community Manager job descriptions, the most critical requested skills were writing ability (83%), customer relations in online channels in normal daily conditions (76%), and working with other departments (53%).

Interestingly, 43% requested that Community Managers participate in social networks – not just online communities owned by the brand. In other words, not just pushing out a message (old school which no-one really likes) but interacting with customers wherever they go.

Out of the 30 job descriptions, 13 (43%) required bachelor degrees, and a majority required that they have about 2.5 – 3 years of experience in social/marketing/customer service. Additionally, 6 companies had a requirement that the community manager have 2.5 – 3 years of experience in the specific vertical which they were serving.

If you’re seeking to reach community managers in person, you’ll find key global hotspots in East Coast US, Western Europe, and a scattering up and down the West US Coast.  This represents the top 500 followed community managers. (See Little Bird’s list of the top 500 Community Managers globally and the top 500 in Europe.)

Top 500 Global Community Managers 2013

What this tells me is that the skills needed to be a manager of a digital strategy requires knowledge of your area, experience, good communication, and a connection with your peers and leaders in that field.  It also requires communication and leadership within your company so that the digital strategy and business strategies align.  It requires an insight into what the company is aiming to do and how it will get there.

As the broader category of Social Business continues to proliferate around the globe, these day to day business programs will be staffed, run, and managed by Community Managers serving on the front line with customers, employees, and partners.  This key role represents the shift to digital real time communications in the business workplace, and demonstrates the changing role of authentic and human customer interactions.