Previously, we talked about Project Management, Gantt Charts, and Communities—let's take a look at the other hats a community manager wears and vice versa. Sometimes your job description within the company or project will differ but you'll still be known as the community manager because it's a more established title.
On the other hand, there is a lot of connotation around the title of a community manager, especially in tech. If you cannot prove a significant amount of contributions that developers value, you will quickly be disregarded as "the marketing person" (often accompanied with some eye rolling).
As a community manager, you'll also be a
- Project manager
- Product manager
- Content creator
- Content editor
- Technical writer
- Developer advocate
- Marketing specialist
- Social media manager
- Event manager
- Budget manager and bookkeeper
- Professional poking person
None of these are avoidable as a community manager. You will always have to be aware of your project's milestones, goals, and who the stakeholders are. You will have to know who the key players are and which people you have to keep happy for your project to succeed.
Content creation such as blog posts, documentation, tutorials, visuals, videos, podcasts, and social media interaction as well as editing and reviewing other people's content are the key factor to a project's success. Without content covering your project, you cannot grow a community. Ideally, you will get your community to generate content for you.
As a developer advocate, you will have to understand your project, what it can do, and be an active presence advocating your project's usage. Marketing is another important aspect of community management. You will have to know who your target audience is, where and how to reach them, and how to monitor your impact. There are lots of tools to help with this. Tooling needs to be both appropriate for measuring what you need measured and right for your community. For example, do not use Google Analytics on your site if you are promoting privacy and data collection awareness. Sometimes you will have to weigh the benefits of measuring metrics over the benefits of staying true to your personal and your project's cause.
In order for your community to grow and connect, it is ideal to participate in events, although you might not have the budget for it in the first steps—that is okay. If you cannot afford a booth at an event that is important for your community, try to get at least one talk or workshop. This enables you to get your message through to the audience and you will automatically gain some search engine points. Bonus video content points if the talk gets recorded.
Events are great, but so is social media. Social media is usually global and you can reach a worldwide audience, even if you only use English as your language. You can encourage people to hold meetups or give talks at meetups in their area. This is where you become the professional poking person.
The professional poking person is one of the most important people in a project. You have to be the person who gets people together and who knows what's going on. Most importantly, you need to anticipate who is going to be annoyed at what and try to mitigate anger. The professional poking person is the one who gets people to go to events, give talks, hold meetings, generate content, and interact on social media because one thing is true: as a community manager, it's dangerous to go alone.
You might be a
- Systems engineer
You might have to dig deep and solve issues that are outside of your comfort zone, be prepared to learn and to deal with systems and people alike.
You don't want to be
- Someone people have to work around to get to results
What you don't want to be is the person people have to work around in order to get results—and they will do that, if you constantly complain without offering solutions or don't keep them happy.
Acknowledge everyone's good work, collaborate, poke where necessary, and your community will grow and be happy forever after!