I've often heard the phrase: "So you're a community manager, but what do you really do?".
Last week, I got frustrated while reading a Reddit question about expectations towards community managers. I hadn't previously thought about my responsibilities, so I wasn't questioning them.
To continue on this subject, I must say that I am no longer frustrated. I'm using this impulse as a challenge to figure things out, and I thought I'd write it all out while I'm at it.
Community management, in my opinion, is not a single skill that can be applied to various areas and contexts. Unique projects require unique responsibilities.
However, a community manager's primary skill, perhaps, is to attract, invite, and make people feel welcome in their community.
Here are my responsibilities as a community manager:
My primary focus is communication. I talk to people, both internally and externally. Internally, we work on strategy and progress. Brainstorming about potential users and the evolution of the project. Externally, I communicate with anyone interested in the project, using it, or wanting to contribute.
Event management. I plan and facilitate community meetings and record, publish, and distribute them.
Another major part is social media management. In my ideal world, community management (or, better yet, "community building") takes place offline. But I don't mind a little social media because I really enjoy the communities I engage with, and I love a good nerdy joke. I promote the project on Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, YouTube, and, recently, Facebook.
I am least familiar with Marketing and SEO. I researched and interviewed my friends about SEO and ways to promote the project to increase visibility. Even though my gut instinct is fighting against promo and spam, I'm trying to do that part as humanly as possible. I'm glad my team helps me with Reddit, talking about the project from personal experience and being honest about it.
By keeping things simple and light, we make marketing human. Talking personally, from experience, and only when it's relevant. I believe that promotion is necessary for people to learn about the project, but only so that whoever has a purpose for the project can discover it.
Copy. I write a variety of texts for various purposes, and I use Grammarly and Quillbot to help me because, in my opinion, AI has advanced humans in writing (or at least some of us). Writing is one of my personal passions. And it includes this blog too.
Documentation. I work on the "README" and wiki pages about the community, all our public presences, and images.
I do some graphics. I truly love to sit down and make some colorful images. I make Youtube thumbnails, event posters, banners, icons, and anything that might be necessary for my own work. I like to attract attention with images, so bold or old-school is how I work.
Value messaging. As part of the SEO keyword research, I'm crafting a catchphrase for the project. Internally, I also brought it to the last community meeting to get feedback. Evolving the phrase to be descriptive yet short and sweet to read.
Besides all the non-tech stuff, I'm also getting ready to present VDK (Versatile Data Kit at VMware) at conferences and meetups, so I'm learning the tool. I created the first report on GitHub stats, wrote Python, and learned some SQL.
In conclusion, I recognize that my diverse personality fits this scenario. I enjoy trying new things. I enjoy learning and asking myself, "Hmmm, what do I want to do today?" And I'm grateful that the variety of responsibilities gives me the privilege to choose and have fun with it.
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