What's a community manager's job?

In Why Tools Are Not The Answer, this caught my attention.

The Product Manager’s Job Is to Think

That’s what makes the role so great, and so hard. There is no right or wrong answer. We need to look at multiple inputs, with many unknowns, and decide what to do despite the complexity.

Tools can help us do that. They can help with giving us inputs that we don’t necessarily have otherwise (for example find a correlation between data points or give us easy access to data that we otherwise wouldn’t bother digging). But tools cannot replace the hard part.

Tools, for example, can highlight correlations, but not causations. Understanding what the data tells us and what it means moving forward is still on us. Adding structure with a productivity tool is great, but if the team doesn’t work well together, the tool will not resolve that.

Which made me think, well what is a community managers job?

I don’t have a good answer right now, but I do think that we can all too easily default to ‘connecting’. I think community is so much more than that.

What word or phrase would encompass the important things we do. The conversations, the connecting, the research, the helping/supporting, the organising, and so forth?


Good Community Managers create sparks.

From time to time we spark something in someone. A belief in themselves that they can do the thing they never thought they could do or even knew existed.

From time to time we spark a discussion that goes so deep that it shifts an individual or group into another gear.

From time to time we spark a wave of appreciation across an entire community. And those individuals and groups of people celebrate each other forever.

From time to time we acknowledge that the spark can’t just happen once and it’s then the community that’s left to its own devices. Far from it. The spark is a frequency wave with moments that require greater intervention.

From time to time we spark interest in our industry from those outside and spot patterns in the world that we bring into the world of community.

From time to time we spark a belief in ourselves that community is more than just a group of people coming together over common interest. We believe that community is the ongoing spark to move human kind forward.


I actually best relate the role of a good CM to that of a PM. It’s getting to a state of organized chaos instead of chaos alone. I’ve been telling a few companies I’ve talked to lately that when starting a Community, your first hire should be a PM who happens to love Community.


What about ‘to communicate’?

We communicate to and for members, customers, the business, for research purposes, product support, trouble shooting, idea generating.

Really community is one big communication machine?

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I’d say facilitate. We help create spaces and make it easier for members to connect with one another, have discussions, etc.


yes! in both cases PMs and CMs are nodes in a network of devs/community members who are in charge of creating order.


its a big portion of the work - sense what’s happening, curate important signals, provide directions / take action

feels like its the same for mot knowledge workers, the main thing that changes is the scope of responsibilities and the means/tools to implement them


There are some great responses here on a LinkedIn post I made, which include:

  • Enable: product usage, connections, learning, brand advocacy etc. (Leslie Greenwood)
  • Design: My immediate reaction was connect, but then I thought it might be to design. A good community manager isn’t always the one connecting people, but they might design a space that allows people to connect collaborate. (@brileever )
  • Create opportunities: Always be switched on to creating opportunities for your community members and your business. (Nicola Earlie)
  • Connect: I think that is what it all boils down to. We facilitate connections which are foundational to everything else that then comes from the connection. (@TimMaggio)
  • Project Management:I’ve always thought of it as human-centered, holistic project management to bring value to members and an organization. It is interesting to see companies posting new role titles to say “community &” and shows real priorities for many orgs. As you’ve always mentioned, this role is very much in infancy and critical for CMs to continue to shape industry for good. (Tristan Lombard)
  • Bridger (Claudia Cafeo)
  • Connect, build and enable: I’m torn between connect, because we make connections all the time; build, because we are builders of relationships and communities; and enable, because I have frequently talked about us being the enablement layer for our users and our companies. It is really hard to decide between those. (Becky Scott)
  • Belonging (Emilie Lashmar)
  • Listen: If the product manager role is to " think". The community manager’s role is to “Listen”. We listen to product feedback, bugs, enhancement ideas. (Chitra HL)
  • Nurture (Trevor Spires)
  • Connect, nurture and build belonging (Natalie J Crue)

This is a great list.

I agree with Max here. Facilitate is the best word I’ve come up with – whether it’s designing and running programs, tactically engaging with the community, or iterating on our concept, we’re basically leading by example and showing our members how to ‘spin the flywheel’ to scale it all up.