This is What a Community Manager Isn’t

Posted on July 17, 2013

At the Community Manager UNconference, a.k.a. #cmgrUN, held last month at Enerspace, Community Managers from across the country got together to figure out what makes a really great CM. While the field of online community management is still new to the general public, veterans in the industry, many who were at #cmgrUN, have been defining the job role for years.

To better understand what a CM does, and what a good one should be doing once you hire them (because you need to hire one), I’ve compiled this list of #cmgrUN takeaways. Take note!

CMs are not reactive, they are proactive.

Jeannie Walters, CEO of 360Connext, a customer experience investigation agency, spoke to the group about identifying and addressing customer issues before they become scary PR nightmares. To do this, CMs must:

Track patterns.

Don’t ignore the obvious. Document customer concerns and track how often the concern is expressed. Apply the “no tweet left behind principle” and don’t overlook any one customer’s issue.


Do a Twitter search of your company and you’ll only see a portion of what users are saying. Search your product and you’ll get a wealth of customer feedback. Customer complaints are not always directed at the source, so track forums and review sites to gauge customer response.

CMs are not robots.


Social media strategist, Jure Klepic, talks to the #cmgrUN crowd about personalizing content. Photo credit: #cmgrUN team

“Personalize, personalize, personalize,” was the message from Jure Klepic, social media innovator and strategist. Even if you’re the voice behind a huge company, users need to feel like they are the only one. CMs play an integral role in humanizing a brand. To do this, they must:


When people no longer wanted to see an animal centric circus, Cirque Du Soleil redefined what a circus is. Klepic gave this anecdote to illustrate how crucial it is to listen to the needs of your customers. Not only do you need to listen, but your actions need to show you’re listening.


Klepic says the media has done a great job of personalizing their content. It’s no longer enough to present a straight news story; viewers want to feel engaged and they want to relate. By integrating social media stats, tweets, Facebook posts etc. into live broadcasts, the media is able to connect to the viewer in a personal way.

Bonus: CMs are not flaky.

Two weeks after the event, I received a small card in the mail with my name hand written on the envelope. Inside was a card that read, “You’re at the corner of awesome and bombdigity,” on the front. And on the inside was a short note from #cmgrUN organizer Tim McDonald, thanking me for coming out to the event and making good on his promise to surprise and delight his audience, like a true community manager.