Is community manager a full-time job?

(Nick Ivanter) #1

I’m a small business owner and just happen to manage our online community as it’s usually the case that small business owners begin by doing all things by themselves. Now we are reaching the point where I believe it would make sense to hire someone else to manage our community, and I’m wondering if I should necessarily look for a full-time person. I understand that full-time is preferred (it’s always better to have someone focused on a single objective), but there are financial considerations and also I don’t want for the person to get bored if there is simply not enough work to do.

So, I’m wondering if there is an established consensus on what scale of a community warrants a full-time manager.

(Sarah Hawk) #2

I’m not sure that there is an established consensus.

I think a lot of it depends on the size and nature of the community, whether you want growth, and what tasks the role entails.

Given that the community is already established, then part-time is feasible. I manage a community on a part time basis (15 hours per week) which works ok, although we’re lucky to have good organic growth and I don’t have time outside of engagement / moderation / events to write content or do much site customisation.

I also think that the market for junior/mid-level freelance remote jobs is healthy, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding someone.

How much time do you currently spend on community related tasks?

(Nick Ivanter) #3

I’m spending very little time (maybe 1 hour a day) but I’m doing next to nothing on the forum these days. I view the online community as an asset for our company and believe that it could use more pro-active management and grow as a result.

I don’t envision site customization as part of the role, but prompting engagement / moderation / curating content is what I’d like the CM to do.

(Sarah Hawk) #4

I think you could probably start with someone for 3 hours per day with a view to scaling down the line.

(Nick Emmett) #5

totally agree with @HAWK here - start with what you know you need and then establish to what level, and in what areas you need to scale down the line. I came in to my role here at FinancialForce on a 60/40 split in the favour of my other role as a Customer Success Manager. I’m currently entering talks about making this a full time thing as there is now far too much needed from my Community Manager role than the current model allows, and that’s even with me not really sticking to the 60/40 split any longer.

Maintaining the status quo is fine for a short time. Make sure you establish your objectives and that they align in both directions with your Why! That way you’ll know which direction you need to go in in terms of growing the community in both members and engagement. There’s also things to consider,as Hawk suggests, such as site customizations, strategy development - and then execution. these are some of things that are needed in my role and I’m really struggling to get the bandwidth for - so what was realistically a part time role, most definitely has become a full time role need for us and me.

TL; DR: Either way, make sure the basics are covered first, then look to scale.

(Richard Millington) #6

There is always more work to do. I think the real question is whether the value of doing that work exceeds the costs.

What is the value of the community to your business?

(Darren Gough) #7

I think this is the key question to ask. Even though it may not feel like a full time role right now, is it going to be a core part of the operation moving forward as a value driver?

(Nick Ivanter) #8

I must admit, I haven’t attempted to calculate it. I know that you have a framework for this, Richard. I just haven’t gotten to it yet.

Intuitively, I know that the community is important to our business. In fact, I believe it is our strategic asset. I just didn’t quantify it yet.

That’s a good question. Now I see that before long I’ll have to get serious about calculating the ROI of our community efforts in some way.

(Richard Millington) #9

Hey @Nick_Ivanter

Without getting into the deep methodology, how does the community help our business? I think that would be useful to know.

(Nick Ivanter) #10

For us, it is simple. We sell information products in a particular niche. So, the more people we attract into our “sphere of influence”, the better. And an online community (a forum) definitely helps it – both by providing fresh topical content (i.e. helping our content marketing) and also by directly promoting our brand and products, as most forum members praise our products when discussion comes to it.

(Ouattara Sitafa) #11

Hello All,

I am new in the field of commnuy management. But according to what I have read, the response time is paramound when managing a community. So, if your community Manager is working in part time is it not going to affect your response time which is usually 15mn.


(Sarah Hawk) #12

Great to hear from you @ouattara

That is a valid point, although it is of more importance in a support environment, and in the early stages of community building. Once you reach establishment, the community should become relatively self-sustaining – at least in terms of responding to the majority of posts.

(Richard Millington) #13

Just want to make sure I understood that correctly.

The community generates leads for your business you wouldn’t otherwise have gained?

(Nick Ivanter) #14

I believe so, yes. We also do paid advertising, so one might argue that if we didn’t have the forum, our advertising would eventually still reach everyone who currently first hears about us because of the forum. Here again, I don’t know how exactly to quantify this but I’m pretty sure that the forum does help in attracting new leads.

(Sarah Hawk) #15

Could you do a ‘where did you hear about us?’ survey somewhere for new clients? (I don’t know that nature of your business so that might be naive.)

(tamara Parris) #16

What is the value add for your customers from your community?

(Richard Millington) #17

My next question would be ‘how many’ leads does it generate for your community that you wouldn’t have gained otherwise?

Measuring this should be relatively easy:

(Nick Ivanter) #18

Thanks everyone. I know that I should be measuring this, and I believe I could, but I right now I’m simply not getting around to it. I guess it means that at this point I’m considering it a lower priority than some other things that I need to do in my business. Like I said, I’m fairly confident that it makes sense to invest in the community, so it seems that I don’t need the exact numbers right now. It’s very likely that once I actually begin investing in this area significantly, then I’ll want the numbers to justify it. So, my plan is hire someone to begin managing our community and then I’ll ask him/her to calculate the ROI. Thanks for the excellent materials, Richard, you’ve put together for this!