Why your startup needs a community manager

community

While the role of a community manager isn’t new (online forums have had community managers monitoring conversations for years) the “new” community manager has an expanded role, that if recognized as a key part of a company’s marketing arsenal, can greatly benefit startups.

The community manager role could be the missing piece of the startup hiring puzzle. While
some are starting to catch up and hire this position, I encourage startups to learn more about
how this role can be a game changer for their company.

Erin Bury, managing director of eighty-eight, created a comprehensive job description for a community manager position back when she was the community manager at Sprouter. Her description reflects a person that is responsible for overall marketing strategy, including content creation, PR, coordinating events, business development, and customer support. The role she outlines demonstrates that a community manager is truly an all-encompassing role.

For a startup raising awareness about their product or service, a community manager can be crucial. How can you sell your product/service if people don’t know who you are? While large marketing departments can address this awareness through B2B or B2C tactics, a community manager can address marketing from a P2P approach.

What is a community?

The community that a community manager is responsible for can vary, but usually they are a startup’s clients and customers, collaborative organizations, other companies, and even internal members of your team. The ultimate goal of a community manager is to expand your community.

Here are three reasons a startup should consider hiring a community manager:

They are an extension of your brand

Faceless companies are the old way. People crave familiarity; they want to see a recognizable face and associate that face with your brand.

Community managers can help with onboarding new members to ensure they feel welcome.

This person will be a walking, talking representation of your brand, so culture fit is important. According to Angela Liu, community manager at Founders Canada: “[A community manager] is a passionate spokesperson who represents the startup and shares with others exactly what your startup can offer.”

The community manager will manage all of your social channels. Their communication will have to be on brand, and the content — from tweets to pictures — need to reflect the brand as well. This is another reason why they need to understand and be a fit with the culture of the company.

They will engage with people, and be both an in-person and online touch point for people within your community.

They can facilitate meaningful partnerships

A CEO of a startup is important, but when the company starts growing, leaders may be spread too thin and not have the time to attend every industry event or networking opportunity. This is where a community manager can shine.

This person is not to be confused with a salesperson, whose responsibility is to generate more business. (Although the partnerships a community manager facilitates have the potential to help generate new business).

Liu says, “[A community manager]… is someone who reaches out and who people reach out to, in order to form new connections which down the road will build a mutual benefit that helps two startups to collaborate.”

networking

As Liu says, a community manager can facilitate partnerships and relationships in a mutually beneficial way. For example, if your company needs help with PR or growth advisory, seek partnerships that can help you with your weaknesses. In return, you can offer your expertise.

As a community manager, I regularly attend Toronto startup events. TechTO’s monthly community meetup or OneEleven’s Tech Summer Social are just some examples of events in the city where you can drive value and strike up meaningful conversations about your organization.

Making the transition from corporate to the startup world showed me what a strong startup ecosystem we have in Toronto, where people are willing to help each other, and the resources are plentiful. A community manager is someone in your corner regularly looking for opportunities for networking, PR, and partnerships within this ecosystem.

They can monitor the ‘health’ of your internal and external community members

In the early stages of a startup, you may not have a dedicated HR professional, someone overseeing how people in your community feel.

Ensuring that the company culture is being lived out authentically within a company is a CEO’s responsibility, but on the ground level can also be tasked out to a community manager. A community manager can ensure that people are comfortable and thriving in the office environment.

A community manager can also check in with people and make sure they’re adjusting well to the community. They help with onboarding new members to ensure they feel welcome. They organize events and coordinate community initiatives to help everyone feel included.

At events, this can be the familiar face your clients see, the first hello. This is especially important when you’re first getting started and clients want to know that your startup has a presence. At an event this person is able to engage in an outside setting with your clients or
potential community members, this goes beyond social media management.

Photo via Unsplash

Amanda Desouza

Amanda Desouza

Amanda Desouza is the Community Manager at Abacus, a startup specializing in Facebook advertising. She is passionate about the Toronto startup scene and is a self-proclaimed digital marketing nerd.