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Community Manager Hiring – How to Find the Right Fit

  • Blog
  • 25 April '22
  • 4 mins
  • Mark Eichler

Newsflash! Online community management is a real bonafide profession. And with the uptick in online community adoption, there’s significant demand for established, experienced online community managers. What's a membership body to do?!

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There are a few ways to go – hiring, training existing staff, licensing support from a consultant, or utilising a service offered by the community product vendor are all ways to help your success. Which is the right fit for any membership organisation will depend on several factors, including the size of the community, application and goals, skills-on-hand, and (of course) budget.

An online community manager essentially builds, grows, and manages online communities. 

In the membership sector, this role is generally housed in the marketing or membership services teams, although there is some variation. Forward-thinking organisations are initiating roles under a Chief Engagement Officer or even Chief Community Officer. Further, community platforms can do a lot of different things. As mentioned in our Ultimate Guide to Online Member Communities, there are well over a dozen business needs for which online community platforms are configured and dedicated. It follows that the staff managing the platform will follow the function on the organisational chart.

But shouldn’t online everything be managed by the IT team? Actually, we don’t recommend so. An online community is more of an emotional/cultural project than a technical one. A good platform will need very little ongoing technical support from internal teams. 

Online communities are extremely powerful technologies that achieve goals many organisations’ membership, marketing, events, and other teams are struggling with.

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When performed in-house, larger membership organisations are hiring for this position as a dedicated full-time role. But it is most often fulfilled with a basket of other related functions depending on the community’s goals - often paired with similar responsibilities like social media management or customer/member support. Most organisations who launch an online community go with fewer hours per week, with 10 to 20 being common.

Finding few available, many organisations are assigning the function to their existing staff and sourcing training and support materials. Whether taking this approach or outsourcing the role, a consultant with online community management experience might be challenging to find, and those with knowledge of the membership sector are even more scarce. However, don't be dismayed - there are plenty of excellent online training courses and documents available.

Tips for Hiring 💡

'Community' can be a bit of a fluffy word, and ‘community manager’ can be a role that doesn’t actually leverage online environments at all. Technically, Barack Obama was a ‘community organiser’ before the internet existed, and well before he was President.

When you’re writing up your job description it is essential to be clear on the role you need. We recommend clarity on a number of points, including:

  • That the community has an online home,
  • That there is a particular community platform you will be utilising for your specific goals,
  • That your organisation has a specific and valued culture, and your online community will extend and participate in this culture,
  • That there are specific metrics and goals for the community for which the community manager will be judged,
  • That other roles outside the community (should there be any) will also be performed.

Don’t just state 'other skills as defined' - take the time to list the things that the person may be required to do. Great community managers love running their communities – if there are any surprise unrelated tasks, you’ll find yourself hiring for the position again before you know it. The community manager market is too hot for talent to stick with a middling fit!

Your ideal candidate should have some experience as the platform runner of the community product you’re using. Obviously, having some familiarity with the platform is going to be valuable, but not as much as if the candidate has been an active admin for community management within an online community platform.

Think about the skills required 🧑‍💻

For some organisations, having a 100% time-committed community manager might not be possible due to budget constraints.

Previous experience running an online community is the key skill. 

Past success should be expressed in metrics showing community growth and goal achievement. While comfort with data and technology is important, the softer skills around relationship building and management are much more valuable in the everyday management of an online community. Skills for running and building websites, such as coding, are much less valuable. Although these may be useful in setting up and styling your platform, they won’t help a community manager in building engagement day-to-day. If you are looking for the right person to recruit for the role internally, look for someone with a high emotional IQ who loves solving problems and helping.

Competition is fierce

In today’s competitive hiring climate, it can be hard to find good people. There are more jobs out there than ever, and employers must compete in order to survive.

Community managers are a hot commodity, so if you’ve found the right fit you need to move quickly in getting that job offer out there or you risk missing out on the best chance to build something impactful.

Having a genuine company with good values and offering unique benefits to your employees will be key to winning over today’s talent.

Work with experts in building successful online communities.

Whether you’re just getting started or looking to improve your existing community, talk to one of our community experts today.

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