What is a Community Manager?

With titles like Chief Imagination Officer and Google’s Captain of Moonshots, it can be tough to pin down what some startup employees do day-to-day. And it’s not just c-levels, there are a number of startup roles that are equally hard to define, from Product Manager to Team Happiness Coordinator.

Enter the Community Manager – a role that’s growing rapidly, but is still a mystery to the average person.

So let’s go ahead and answer the question: What is a Community Manager?

A Content Creator

Let’s get this one out of the way first: A Community Manager is a writer. They’ve crafted a social persona that humanizes and embodies what the brand stands for and they take that persona out to paint the internet red! Whether that means crafting blog posts, writing social media posts, answering questions on Quora, or sending enticing emails…a Community Manager is spending a large part of their day writing.

An Industry Expert

They’re reading the newsletters and blogs that their community members read, developing knowledge of the issues that matter to their industry, and attending events to learn from others in the know.


A Brand Advocate

A Community Manager knows exactly who their company is and should jump at in-person opportunities to spread the word. They’re attending Meetups, planning community events, taking coffee dates with those who know and love the brand (as well as those who’ve never heard of it), and taking advantage of speaking opportunities whenever possible.

A Partnerships Manager

A Community Manager takes the time to actively research which online and offline communities have missions that align with theirs and develops ways they can mutually benefit one another (aka become BFFs). They realize what resources (beyond money) their company can provide to bring value to those communities – whether it be a space to host events, introductions to relevant folks, discounts or special offers – and what these communities can potentially provide in return – like helping spread the word about your brand! Basically, we’re talkin’ about the less salesy version of sales.


A Customer Care Representative

If it doesn’t sound sexy to you, check yourself! How a company responds to criticism or praise says a lot about who they are. A Community Manager’s community is often its customers, and properly (and promptly) managing their needs can set a brand apart from others. Frequently, this intersects with social media leading us to…

A Social Media Guru

If you’re googling “Community Manager” you’ve likely seen the title “Social Media Community Manager” or articles explaining the difference between a Social Media Manager and Community Manager. The truth is – depending on the startup (or more specifically, the size of the startup) a Community Manager may be responsible for maintaining a social presence across the web. At the end of the day, social sites are great places to interact with community members, express who a brand is, and evaluate feedback about a company and its products.

A Liaison

Speaking of feedback, a Community Manager gets exposure to a ton of it as the eyes and ears of the company. It’s their job (and civic duty!) to do something with that feedback. Whether that means taking a complaint or feature request to the product/dev team or passing on a fab customer testimonial to the sales team to rep in pitch decks, it’s a community manager’s job to make sure community feedback is taking an active role in the business.

Any/all of this sound interesting? Well, the good news is that nearly every type of company these days is hiring for a community role! So whether you’re capturing Pokemon Go players’ feedback for the dev team at Niantic Labs, or pitching a content campaign as Amazon Fashion’s Community Manager, or planning events to unite bootcamp students and potential employers as New York Code & Design Academy’s Community Manager, there are a ton of opportunities out there.

If you’re looking to learn more about community management, check out We Support NYC – “a community for Community Managers” (how perfect, right?), the CMX Summit (pro tip: you can watch videos from all their past conferences), and The Community Managers Meetup which hosts monthly events exploring different CM topics with #badass speakers.