A few weeks ago one of the groups I work with gave me a call and asked for my help, because they felt they needed to hire a community manager but they really weren’t sure how to write a job description or structure the position. As part of that, I wrote up the following for them and I thought it might be useful to others as well.

If nothing else, it’ll probably explain my philosophy of community management a bit.

What is a Community Manager?

Community manager can mean many things, it is almost a generic title without some context. Within DevNet we have three people with the title Community Manager, and we each have very different roles. Mine is more directly tied to being outward facing, marketing and social media; One manages the  community content procurement, organization and management, and the other is a content and curriculum creator and in charge of the site UX/UI. Right there you see that community management ends up covering a huge swath of an organization and can end up very cross-functional.

The base definition of a community manager is a person who manages and oversees user-created content for an organization. A junior community manager might be someone monitoring forums, wikis or mailing lists and making sure that the content is within corporate standards and defusing conflicts among the members. These people may or may not have a “public face” — at Apple they work almost 100% in the background and are unseen and mostly given staff names. The other extreme are many open source projects where the community managers are also active participants and leaders in the community as well.

Some community manager roles involve other aspects; being the public face or spokesman for an organization/company/community, taking on some marketing aspects and/or . Some also act as evangelists where they promote and teach about a technology or product line — they can be technically oriented (like a Developer Engineer or Sales Engineer) or they can be marketing oriented.

Social media is often lumped in with Community management (as it is with me), but it’s increasingly seen as it’s own specialty. It is, as I love to call it, “Marketing without a net”, because often what you do is reacting to incoming messaging and conversations in a timeframe that doesn’t allow for scripted responses or lots of framing meetings. it’s also a role where if you get it wrong you often get fired — definitely not for everyone.

So to write a job description for a community manager you need to understand which aspects of the role you want a person to handle. there are many common elements, but then you need to tweak it for specific circumstances and needs. here’s a starting point:

Community Manager Job Description

We are looking a community manager to help us manage our online forums and build our community membership. This person must have very strong written communication skills and comfortable in a public speaking situation. They must have experience managing online communities and forums (please include URLs to your communities with your application). This role must include both policy setting and enforcement; experience in community outreach and membership growth promotions valuable. Must be a strong self-starter and able to make quickly evaluate conflict situations and take action to defuse those conflicts in a professional manner. Must be active in social media and comfortable in monitoring and interacting in social media channels.

I think that’s a good start. If you want to talk about how to frame that for your specific situation or want my help as you move towards building the job description and hiring someone, please ask. I’m happy to help.

Finally,  a few interesting links you might find useful: