Is community management an art or a science? On one hand, community managers constantly analyze numbers - for example, metrics that indicate the health of their insight communities as well as project data. On the other hand, they also need to be motivating and persuasive, and these skills aren't completely scientific.
Community management is the practice of building and managing an insight community, and it goes beyond the skills required to run an ad hoc research project. It is a discipline in its own right, distinct from both 'market research' and 'project management'.
Although closely linked to these other disciplines, community management focuses on the practices and processes required to maintain a healthy and responsive community.
Do you have what it takes to be a good community manager? Following are some critical skillsets required to be successful.
- A knack for understanding people
Having a good grasp of people's motivations is vital to creating the right balance of incentives, engagement activities and communications. Community managers need to convince their target audience to join their insight communities and motivate people to continue to participate.
- Excellent creative, communication skills
Community managers need to craft the right recruit message, create interesting content and keep engagement activities fresh. Plus running a discussion forum in your insight community is a lot like planning a wedding or a dinner party: community managers need to be able to make people feel welcome and entertained.
- Project management
Project management is on steroids in an insight community. All the steps in the research process are the same (from briefing through to design and reporting) but it all happens in hours or days, instead of weeks and months.
- Organizational skills
Scheduling and conducting the small regular operational tasks and developing processes requires an organizational mindset. As a community manager, you are constantly juggling various projects and coordinating with different people, usually more than with traditional research.
- Data analysis skills
To get insight into the health of your insight community, you need to be able to generate and interpret key metrics, as well as interpret both qualitative and quantitative data from projects.
- Negotiation skills
Diplomacy, public relations and business development skills round out a great community manager in their role as ambassador and sales person for the community. These skills are necessary for stakeholder activation and ongoing engagement. Engaged stakeholders means budget renewal and a full pipeline for the research calendar.
Community management needs to take the research process and pipeline, member engagement, and stakeholder engagement into consideration for the insight community to be a success.
We'd love to hear your thoughts about what it takes to manage an insight community. Share your ideas and questions, and fill in any gaps we may have missed.