Football Goal I was recently asked what a community manager does in a technical development community. My answer is, the community manager's job is to help the project have:

More, happier, engaged users.

With just four words, this covers all of the things I see as most important for a project.

These aspects are:

  • Growth–More users. The community manager should always be focused on ways to get more people into the community.
  • Community Experience–Happier users. Users are happier when the product is better, when the environment in a community is healthy and reinforces learning and growth, and when the tools and processes of the community do not get in the way of what they want to achieve. This reminds me that community experience is not just about promotion and cheerleading–the community and user experience matter, too.
  • Belonging–Engaged users. Broadcast is uninteresting to me. What is interesting is a community that amplifies its effect by engaging and empowering its community members, and the community manager is key to identifying and removing barriers, while also creating opportunities for engagement like events, local user groups, and making tools available to grass-roots community members to make it easier for them to engage. This also covers the technical governance of the project, and ensuring the user has a strong voice in the project roadmap.
  • User Focus First–Users above all. A developer community can be a great place to be, but without users, it's a hobby. Developers come when users come. That can be in two ways: Either your users, upon engaging in the project, help make it better, or the mere fact that you have lots of users brings potential co-developers interested in your "market" out of the woodwork, where the great community experience you have created makes it easy for them to get involved.
  • Continuous Improvement - More and happier are comparative, not absolute. The community manager should be constantly improving the status of the community, in a visible way.

Where do you focus, and what can you do to improve each of these areas? What does the community manager actually do to move the needle for each of these areas? Over the next few weeks, I will explore these topics in further articles in this series.

(Image courtesy Steven Depolo, (CC BY 2.0))