11 Ingredients that Make Up the Best Community Managers

A Community Manager has to be many things at once (hence the brain above). Here is my list of top 11 ingredients that make up the best community managers.

1. Listener: this person should be above all, a good listener. Hiring someone who only likes to hear him/herself speak won’t get you very far.

2. Reliable Gardener: often, the best community managers are outgoing, a little quirky, edgy, nerdy, or all of the above. These are good traits, but make sure they are also extremely reliable and conscientious. A community is a living, breathing entity, and needs a steady gardener and caretaker.

3. Passionate: find someone who gets fired up (in a positive way). When you interview or talk to a potential Community Manager, look for a twinkle in their eye when talking about the subject, increased pace of speaking, hands moving, etc. Community Management is hard, and often energy-draining (often you feel like you are constantly giving, policing without getting many direct positive affirmations in return), so you need someone who has a full tank of gas and can generate their own enthusiasms.

4. Serving: the community is for the community, not the Community Manager. He/she will facilitate conversations, be a concierge, gardener, knowledge-sharer, shepherd, and leader.

5. Curious: since a growing community must cater to more and more people, with more and more needs/desires/interests, it is important the Community Manager has a wide variety of interests/tastes so he/she can be highly curious about new topics, absorb knowledge, propose new ideas, and drive new relationships within the community.

6. Connector: every connection and interaction that happens within the community, no matter how big or small, drives to fuel the growth and overall health of the community. The Community Manager should be a natural connector, suggesting a particular member reaches out to another for XYZ reason, etc. This person should be part master networker, part match-maker.

7. Policer: spam, negative and attacking content is bad news for a community. The Community Manager has to play the role of Policeman/woman and be a spam killing daniel-san.

8. Round-the-Clock: community management is not a 9-5 job. People engage all day, every day of the week, and expect feedback when they are there. Try to find someone who loves community management enough that they do a fair amount of it in their spare time as well.

9. Relatable: if the Community Manager is unapproachable or patronizing, people will be reluctant to contribute. Find someone who is down-to-earth and makes people feel comfortable and want to take a seat at the table.

10. Experimenter: there is no 100% success road-map for any starting community. The Community Manager should be a fearless experimenter, idea-generator, and spaghetti thrower.

11. Instigator: find someone with a “just do it” attitude. He/she should instigate little conversation-fires everywhere, respond to as many member posts/questions as possible, and generally be “everywhere.”

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Chris Poirier

Nice, dig the list! Think I will start using the “gardner” phrase more than “awesome geek-nerd boy” wait..yeah..but it’s kind of true, so I’m conflicted..so..yeah..gardner.. 😉

Though for the sake of conversation I’d like to put out there for consideration something on the “policing” role: There is a super fine line between shutting down someone being outwardly, though text based, negative and attacking towards the community and/or individual and a community attempting to silence what is their perception of “negativity.” I think a lot of thought and skill needs to be there, just like a real cop applying the laws of the land on its citizens. (Knowing when to look the other way and when to actually write the ticket is what empowers the people. Having the power and knowing what to do with it are often two VERY different things.) For going to the extreme of ensuring only newspeak is spoken on a community crushes the conversational voice of the open internet and for all of the wrong reasons. Disagreement is what can drive conversation and innovation. It’s knowing when to step in and guide the conversation back to healthy conversation that makes the community manager.