Lee Odden

What Does a Social Media Community Manager Do? Take a Glimpse.

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Social Media

Social Media Community ManagerOne of the essential hires for companies that want to affect real change as a social media savvy organization connecting with people and communities is a Community Manager.  During the social media discovery and initial learning phase, the addition of a dedicated person is often unlikely. So the tasks a Community Manager would handle are often performed by a combination of a truly competent outside agency and by multiple people within the company.

I know the right thing to do is talk about social strategy and broader level considerations before getting into the tactical details and specific tasks, but sometimes showing minute by minute examples of what a Community Manager does might be the only way to attract those that will perform the new role. Think of it as bottom up social media strategy if you have to. The more front line and middle managers that “get it”, the more powerful winning executive support will be.

There is no universal job description for a Community Manager. Actual role and responsibility will vary. It might be Customer Service focused, or Marketing/Sales, Legal, HR, Product Development or a mix of all of these. Here’s a one hour snapshot of a Marketing focused Social Media Community Manager:

6:45 am Check and reply to company blog(s) comments.

6:55 am Scan news feeds for interesting articles, blog posts, media to share. Write tweets, updates etc with short URLs. Schedule messages for sharing throughout the day.

7:10 am Check Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn comments, Retweets, messages and reply as necessary.

7:20 am Scan persistent search for topics, keywords and brand terms to reveal commenting opportunities on industry news websites and blogs. Make comments, take notes for future blog posts.

7:30 am Revisit company blog comment management tool for new replies.

7:35 am Revisit Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for specific follow ups.

7:40 Scan social media monitoring tool for mentions, links (alternatively alerts can be used to surface events as they happen)

7:45 am  Review Social Dashboard and web analytics for the company blog for notable links, trending traffic sources and relevant conversion metrics (RSS subscribers, email subscribers, downloads, webinar signups, sales inquires)

This is probably going to seem like a lot in an hour. It is.  However, software, training and experience make such social media community management efficiency possible. “Fires” certainly do happen and there’s a multitude of situations that can throw this out of whack. But hopefully those looking for a glimpse at what s marketing-focused community manager does, will get an idea of what might be involved.

I know there are quite a few people that read this blog working part or full time in a community manager role. It would be great to get your perspective on the responsibilities of working with social communities (or online communities at large).

How have you become more efficient?  How does your early morning routine differ than the one above?  What more would you like to see in a “glimpse” post like this?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar Black Seo Guy says

    I pretty much have my note book out and check off my daily plans..this keeps me on schedule and tasked..I got everything broken down by the minute and hour..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  2. “What more would you like to see in a “glimpse” post like this?”

    Meaningful content and/or editing.

  3. I’d love to see the rest of the day’s schedule.

    • No, you probably wouldn’t…. 😉

    • We provide full day descriptions, job descriptions, task checklists, etc to our clients. On this blog I can provide excerpts of those things.

      Since there are so many variations of what Community Managers do, I will certainly provide other examples. We’ll also be doing more interviews with Community Managers to get first hand insight. thanks for the feedback Brian.

  4. I would like to have seen a little more in-depth content about a Community Manager’s role, rather than just checking social networks. I think that’s the 1 thing everyone knows they do. Closer editing might have made it a little more believable, too.

    • Thanks for the feedback Audrey. I like to give slices of info here vs. the whole enchilada. What would be the point in that? Elaborate on “closer editing”.

      • I totally agree – giving away the secrets isn’t the way to go, but maybe adding some insight into what tools are available for people looking to manage their own communities might have added some extra value.

        Also, it looks like you fixed a few of the errors. Still need a period after “throw this out of whack.” As a copywriter, THAT is what I do all day!

        • THAT is great feedback. Tools for Community Managers is a great idea for a follow up post. Do you agree?

          You know that time between 6:30 and 6:40 am? That’s when I wrote this post. Rushed and lack of coffee for me = typos! Thanks.

  5. Community Manager is just a part of what I do, and while most of this list of to-dos is right on, there is one thing I’d add – which is most likely a more important task for internal Community Managers (it would be tricky for consultants to do this). When I get into the office in the morning I check with the managers/directors who deal with customers for any customer feedback and all the department directors for any new important activities/issues going on that our audience might want to know about via our various social media platforms. For a business that deals directly with the public everyday, it’s important to check in with each of the departments to know what’s going on and be able to react/prepare/assist where ever possible.

    Now I must go check all my RSS feeds. Nice post!

    • Great suggestion Shannon. Especially if those managers are in the office at 6:30 am 🙂 – It’s a great point though, to connect with other people involved at your company who deal with on and offline contacts and communities.

      Just out of curiosity, do you use an intermal messaging system like Yammer?

  6. Hey there Lee,
    Great write up, this definitely looks like my morning routine. Doing all of these things early in the morning gets a little hectic sometimes, because you want to be the first responder on the social media front–so I’ll add a few short points about the rest of my day here:
    –Researching and contacting clients through social media platforms to conduct case studies on usage of our products/services
    –Researching and pitching media contacts on our product that may be relevant to their beat
    –Craft blogs for the company website
    –Create new endeavors in social media, for example, my #prwebchat serves as an extra learning resource
    And AFTER work, I check our company presence on all of the social media platforms we engage in (as well as email) on my iPhone about once an hour to make sure everything is smooth and any inquiries are solved or directed to the right person. Typically, I get inquiries “after work hours” at least once a day. But you know what, I don’t mind–social media never takes a holiday, and I love it.
    –Community Manager @PRWeb

    • Always appreciate your perspective Stacey. I get to follow your Community Management work first hand (as a vendor and a customer) and with your energy and passion for the industry, you’ve made a lot of progress for PRWeb.

      Kudos aside, thank you for sharing your points which represent a lot of what the rest of the day looks like. That was my purpose of showing “a glimpse” – to encourage Community Managers to fill in the rest 🙂

      Your comments reflect what Sheldon said about being on and the role not stopping – early am to evening after work. A brand ambassador’s work is never done 🙂

  7. Great post Lee.
    As a community manager myself a lot of people think I’m just “playing” on Twitter, etc. all day, but your example above does a good job of highlighting how most of my day goes. There’s a lot more reading involved than most people think. I’d say over 50% of my day is spent scouring and reading things that have to do with our company or industry and to be honest it sometimes gets a bit much. I find that I hardly even read my own RSS feeds at night anymore because sometimes my eyes just need a rest from looking at a screen all day.
    The other thing I people should know is that, depending on the scale of your market, all of what’s listed above never stops. My company deals with clients world-wide, which means while North America may be starting to slow down for the day, the other side of the world is just getting going. Granted, I make sure that I find a little bit of time each day to slow down and take it easy, but I don’t always get that luxury everyday. As a community manager I always have to be on.
    That said though, I really do love my job. I happen to love reading, learning, sharing my ideas, chatting with new and interesting people around the world and most of all I really do believe in my company which makes the whole thing a lot easier.

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos (http://sysomos.com)

    • I appreciate the feedback Sheldon. The example I give is very niche of course, there are hundreds of these one could post that are specific to industry, social application or community.

      I agree about the information consumption taking up time and definitely with the notion that you’re “always on”. It never stops and if it does – that spells BIG problems, right? 🙂

      • Well, let’s hope not that BIG of a problem. I do need to sleep at some point 😉

      • With smartphones, iPads, etc. it really doesn’t stop, but it also gives you an opportunity to provide customers with service they might not expect. On both Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve I was responding to questions on both Facebook and Twitter and helping people out. The total amount of time was probably only a couple of hours, but those people were very appreciative of the fact they got a response. My wife on the other hand was ready to make me eat my phone…

        • That’s impressive Bryan. Not the phone eating part of course 🙂 – On one hand, that extra service really makes your company and the experience customers can expect to stand out. On the other, do you think they will begin to expect it all the time? Should they? Just a thought.

    • Great point Sheldon. Reading (and commenting) definitely takes up a lot of time during the day.

      Personally I’m always looking for new trends, issues popping up that relate to various clients as well as my agency, energi PR (http://www.energipr.com), where I have a community manager role.


    • I agree with everything you say, Sheldon, especially the last paragraph. If you don’t love ‘reading, learning, sharing ideas and chatting with new & interesting people around the world’ you will burn out from this job very quickly.

      Thanks for the post Lee, and for educating people about what it is we do as Community Managers. If you’d like to join a twitter chat for Community Managers, I co-moderate #CMGRchat every Wednesday at 2pmEST and we’d love to have you stop by!

  8. Looks pretty accurate, although I would stress that there is a difference between a community manager and a social media manager (most of the time). Community managers tend to be present wherever companies have actually created their own communities, like customer forums, etc. Social media managers like myself tend to handle most or all of the externally-facing social media presences of the company.

    • Good distinction Ian. This is definitely an example of a social media marketing community manager or a least the social media tasks that a community manager might perform. It’s niche and specific, hence the “glimpse” title. It’s also real activity representative of what we do every day here at TopRank over the past 5 years or so – not always the same tools, but the same types of activity.

  9. Lee, that was a great way of synopsizing something that your other posters point out is a real issue . . . what do these people do??!!??Not rocket science, but not play, either. Just an awful lot of plugging away . . .Jeff YablonPresident & CEO
    Answer Guy and Virtual VIP Computer Support, Business Change Coaching and SEO Consulting

  10. Great post!

    A community manager also is part of the business development team; listening for cues from potential customers on Twitter is pretty simple.

    Twitter is like being at a mall with 250 million people walking around and you can listen into all their conversations, “Oh, I heard you need a hat! Well come check out our hats over here if you’d like…” etc.,

    • Yes indeed Moe – Twitter and other social conversation channels can be useful places to mine sales opportunities.

    • Hi Moe – I agree. We too monitor Twitter for topics and keywords in our industry and areas of expertise so that we can not only help answer questions about our product, but also interact with and engage with others. You’d be amazed at the relationships and connections we’ve developed using this strategy.

  11. My online community exist in microblogs, social networks, forums etc. For mention of brand and keywords – the more automated tools one have to monitor, the less difficult the task (its overwhelming).That being said the tool still suck at sentiment analysis and semantic, a human interpretation is always better. As a community manager commenting, RT, messaging etc are very critical as it foster engagement but listening to community is always the first task. So to keep it to its core , community manager roles are listening(bread) and engaging(butter)!!!!

    What about a glimpse on SEO?

  12. Great post Lee, would love to see a comparison between a community manager’s day (or week) and a social strategists! This would be helpful in pitching the importance of having social media and community management staff to the higher ups.

    Already sent a link to this post to my manager and team members! Keep it up! 🙂

    -Kristina, comm. manager AND strategist

    • With short headcounts, social strategists are often tasked with doing managers tasks. But I get the distinction. If you’d like to share a glimpse of your social strategist day or even an hour here in the comments, I’m sure readers will be interested.

      • Yes, exactly. And with little support from the hierarchy it seems to be the trend for a lot of corporations to be short staffed. But that lack of support comes from a lack of knowledge on the subject. It’s our job to try and educate the people who make decisions on how this can benefit the company.

        As far as my day as a strategist goes, it consists of about 2 total hours engaging in tweet chats, blogs and researching what other B2B companies are doing to see how I can improve our social influence. Then, at least an hour of compiling internal educational pieces on how to use different tools and how to develop a content strategy. Or just simply reaching out to different managers and directors here for content and input. I’m sure there’s more but as you noted, sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between what is a management move and what is a strategy move.

  13. I work for myself as a social media manager handling social media mostly for small businesses close to my location. Until today, I’ve been organizing my time as I saw fit and haven’t really been so formal in saying, “this is what I will do at this specific minute.”

    But my morning looks very similar to what is described above. So I’m glad to have seen the reference! Thanks for the one-hour glimpse!! 🙂


  14. It is hard working that fast if you don’t have the right tools, but like you said it is possible if a person stays focused. The trick is to be concise (This is where I struggle) and make sure you are staying in line with the company’s message.

    • It is like spinning plates a bit and realistically, one aspires to focused work but the nature of it calls for being reactive AND proactive which isn’t always a linear thing. 🙂

  15. This is the role of a community manager for a company that participates in mainstream social sites, perhaps…but this is not what a community manager of other types of communities does on a daily basis. Yes, this is tough work, but when you have an online community that the company owns and operates – not the platforms that we don’t own, it looks quite different. There is an important distinction and I think the two are being confused, particularly of late.

    Angela Connor

    • Good point Angela and thank you for bringing that up. You are talking about Community Manager as it has been known for quite a while – and I do see what you mean about there being confusion as of late. Didn’t mean to further that with this post.

  16. This may be a snapshot of the first hour of someone’s day but so much more goes into a community manager’s job than simply reading and responding to comments and blog posts. Seems to me an accurate “glimpse” would give more of an overview, not just focus on one specific part.

    That said, it is a fairly accurate assessment of how I spend many mornings. But as the day goes on, I have much heavier tasks to focus on, once the coffee hits my system. 🙂

  17. Why do they wake up so early… they’re making me look bad

  18. Nice post – there are a few other things we see in the community managers with whom we work. A majority of their time is spent on internal evangelism, coordination, and training as well as analytics and reporting. The other thing we are starting to see a lot more of is community managers hired to be responsible for internal communities of practice, particularly in the professional services industry but also in large functional teams.

    We haven’t put together *the* description of a community manager because, as you point out, there are too many different flavors but we do have a lot of information on our site to help people sort out what community management means for them: http://community-roundtable.com/resources/

    Thanks for the post Lee and happy (early) Community Manager Appreciation Day!


    • Thank you Rachel – it’s feedback like yours that I was hoping to attract. Great insights on what a community manager does internally as well as externally. Thanks for the link 🙂

  19. Hey I described my typical CM day here: http://whatwatch-jeromepineau.blogspot.com/2010/09/day-in-life-of-your-friendly-community.html

    If anyone’s interested 🙂 – that’s the real deal…

  20. Wow! Thanks Lee, I’m really loving this. As many people have said different Community Managers have different duties but honestly these are most of the tasks I do first thing in the morning. I often don’t read my email until after I’ve finished my first block of community time. I have a block of time in the morning, and again in the afternoon that I keep just for community time. This doesn’t mean it’s the only time I’m doing my CM duties but it’s the time when I don’t take other meetings or work on bigger projects. I use this time to do my daily duties.

    As others have mentioned, I’m never really off. I check Twitter and Facebook throughout the evening, in the early morning and on the weekends. Our community is quite international so we often get tweets, emails, DMs whatever all hours of the night. Obviously I can’t answer everything right away, but I sure do my best. I really feel that it keeps the community rolling when they don’t have to wait 8 hours for an answer (or whatever).

    One thing I wanted to add is that being a Community Manager you really need to also be a part of the community. Like for me, as the CM for SEOmoz, it’s imperative that I be a part of the general SEO community. My background is SEO and I continue to do consulting (on the side) and obviously have to keep up with all the changes and trends in SEO. But without this I’d never be able to do my job well. Can you imagine a non-SEO trying to managing a community of SEOs? 😉

    Thanks again Lee! I’m planning some posts on SEOmoz about Community Management and Social Marketing and how we integrate it with our SEO strategy. I’m so happy to see posts like this so I can tell people “Look I really do work!” 🙂

    • Thanks for the insight Jen. With the mention of response time in your comment, there may be some irony in that the above comment was not approved right away, but I choose not to be “always on”, especially during the weekends where the IRL takes precedence 🙂

      However, that does bring up an important topic: as brands become more socially engaged, should they be expected to be on, 24/7, 7 days a week? Perhaps that makes more sense for an established company or a business model where the community is part of the product as is the case with SEOmoz.

      One of the interesting observations I’ve seen from other Community Managers is the notion of pre-determined times for such tasks and the idea of “always on” and handling things as you go. The sheer volume of opportunities requires some method of prioritization and management (social monitoring and CRM) in order to scale. What are your favorite social tools?

      Looking forward to your upcoming articles.

  21. And to think that was only the first hour of the day! I think a lot more companies will be adding the position of Social Media Community Manager in 2011. It’s getting harder for companies to hide from the facts, over 500 million users on Facebook, Twitter nearing 200 million and LinkedIn with 85 million users and growing.

    • I agree, it’s one of the most common position recommendations we make with clients. Not only do companies need to staff for customer engagement, but they need tools to make it efficient. That’s how so much can be accomplished in roughly an hour. 🙂

  22. Avatar Mrigank Demesolve says

    i liked the way you have fragmented the responsibilities and the timings. Needless to say with more than half of the consumer base present online, the job of the community manager has become tedious and 24*7. Moreover, in a day you have to answer same query multiple-times, but the room for innovation is big & has much more to fit in!

    • That can be true Mrigank. Those repeat Q/A are ripe as new content ideas. One of the areas of opportunity for Social Media Community Managers is to harvest content from the ouuput of their interactions. Make that content easy to find via search engines as well as via social sharing and you might reduce the frequency of having to provide the information firsthand.

  23. This is a very nice read…it looks so simple but when you look deeper there’s lot to do. Some people underestimate what these people does, they don’t know how it impacts their business and how valuable this is.

  24. the only question I have is how do you keep it to just one hour! I end up doing this over the course of the entire day

  25. Hi a really interesting insight – Im amazed how much can be done and achieved in only an hour

  26. This post is as you say, a glimpse…and after reading comments below, I am sure all know and accept the definition differs org to org. The first hour above really focuses on the operator side of what a cmty mgr does, but it does not account for the internal sharing of insights gleaned from reviewing and responding to the various brand mentions. Also, lacking is the proactive response. Scanning is captured in hour above, but we must participate in discussion to establish creds and trust. For our group, we have our responsibilities divided into four buckets: Brand Engagement, Internal Engagement, Content, and Industry Engagement. All of us participate in these buckets, have various responsibilities, but as a team we have a set of overall metrics to evaluate progress that roll up into one community health score. The one thing a community manager must excel at, every minute of each day, is adaptability.

    Lauren Vargas
    Director of Community at Radian6

    • Thanks for the insight into how your group operates Lauren. I agree that adaptability is essential.

      There is no universal definition of what a community manager is or does. Each company or at least the individuals performing community management and community marketing tasks, often assume their way is “genuine” or “legit”, which is reflected by several of the other comments below. What matters is the ability for the community management function to affect desired outcomes. It looks like part of that for you and Radian6 is community health.

      Bottom line: agree or not, the glimpse above expands my client’s reach on the web at large, on the social web and continues to result in business outcomes – many of which are tied to revenue.

      I appreciate your comment about lacking “proactive response”. That’s interesting terminology. Do Taken literally, it sounds like you mean answering questions before they’re asked 🙂

      Take a look at 7:10am and there’s reference to replying to tweets, updates and messages. That is response in the context of this example and is indicative of what one does in a conversation: consume content and reply to it.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  27. Thanks for writing the post Lee! It really is amazing what you can do in just an hour when you get into the routine. You inspired me to write a post around the same topic on my blog as well http://bit.ly/ffqV3a.

    Our community is truly a global one so even if we are a team working on our them it’s really challenging to be always on, but on the other hand, the international community is very inspiring.

    Social strategist & community manager at Nokia

    • Thank you for sharing that link Saara. The point of this post was to attract commentary from practicing community managers like yourself and many others that have commented so far. A successful post to me is one where the comments are the best part. To inspire a post on another blog is even better 🙂 Off to read….

  28. It´s certainly just a glimpse from a particular angle. What we try to sync is also the transfer between online and offline. When it comes to being visible and you have a product as we do trust is essential. Lot´s of people are satisfied by what they learn about our company online, but many need the real world connection – so our community manager is part of that process: thinking how we can bring the values communicated online to an offline world event, which in turn gives us of course some great news to talk about online.

  29. Avatar Patricia L Mellin says

    Thank you for sharing.

  30. Thank you so much Lee for addressing this extremely interesting and dare I say heated / sensative (at times) topic. I’m in the process of learning about social media both in and out of the classroom and would love to further my knowledge about social media to augment my background as a marketing professional, so this post is of special importance to me.

    There seems to be a sort of disconnect with what community managers do (which as you mentioned is not the same across the board, hence some of the confusion, in part) and how this gets translated to the higher ups and the general populace. I know I’ve seen more than my fair share of articles / YouTube videos that point this disconnect out.

    If you look at blogs such as the highly regarded Social Media Examiner (http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com) and Pushing Social (http://www.pushingsocial.com) and the like and do searches for Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc., a plethora of information emerges. Allow me to get to my point: we all know how to tweet, set up a Fan Page and use a blog – here is what separates the men from the boys (or girls) or the social media gurus from the community managers: it’s the extent that we know how to effectively use these social media tools in a strategic way. The range of such knowledge is huge.

    I’ll stop there before my comment starts to look like a chapter in a book, or maybe it’s too late.


    P.S. Lee, thanks so much for bringing up Yammer. I wasn’t aware of this service, so a hat tip to you! That’s very helpful to know and again highlights the range of knowledge that seems to exist in the industry.

    • Thanks Laura-Lee. I didn’t get the impression that it was heated exactly, but there is clearly a distinction between an internal community manager and a social media marketing strategist/community manager. The good news is that people like yourself have shared their perspective, which was the point of the post 🙂

  31. Avatar Stormstonestreet says

    I believe this article address a very crucial issue. Community managers do play a huge role in an organization and if they fail to address the social media side of a community than they’re not doing there job. I just started to learn about social media in my class room, and the more i learn bout it, the more important I believe it is, and the points you adress, especially about media strategy are great.

  32. How can you go about getting a job like this if you don’t have any relate able professional experience?

    website, really informative and engaging…………..

    Keyword Management

  34.  Interesting post and thanks for sharing. Some things in here I have not thought about before.Its really useful information
    Keyword Management

  35. One question, what does Community Manager does the rest of the day???

  36. I´ve been trying to make my week  on sunday  night.  Planning & feedback on  coming days

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