Being an effective community manager is not an easy task. There's no handbook for how to deal with the various situations that will inevitably come up during your time overseeing a community. To be an effective community manager, you need to trailblaze as you go, come up with your own solutions to the various problems / scenarios that will come up. Remember, an online community is a reflection of an offline community. It's still people behind the keyboards, so you're effectively overseeing a group of individuals, and they all have their own opinions on things including how your community should be ran.
A community manager is basically a politician in the online world. Your success is determined by those in your community, if you're ineffective at your job your community will wither away or flock to greener pastures - if you're effective at your job then your community will thrive. You delegate certain tasks to chosen groups of individuals particularly suited to deal with such tasks. You need to handle situations that come up diplomatically, force is generally not received well in the online world as it is with the offline world. Sometimes taking a hard-lined approach is warranted and unavoidable, do not agonize over having to take harsh, decisive action against those flagrantly violating the rules. You're accountable to the community, if you make a mistake you must recognize and learn from it, apologize and move on.
Managing a community is something that takes a lot of time and effort, but with the help of a team of people to delegate tasks to, and with some smart targeted efforts - it's not an impossible task. Make sure you surround yourself with people who are better / more knowledgeable than you in areas you're not. Make sure to consistently focus on engaging the community, get involved in posts by responding to them and answering questions when you're able to. Start engaging topics, don't always be posting something that is 'telling' others what to do or think, this is a quick way to become wildly UN-popular.
These are the key traits that make up a good community manager, in my opinion:
- Confidence - believe in yourself and your ability to handle varying situations. "The difference between those who do and those who don't is that those who don't believe it when they are told they can't."
- Delegation - know when you can't handle everything yourself, and be able to delegate tasks.
- Focus - once you start something, finish it. It's easy to get sidetracked, do your best to stay focused.
- Creativity - one solution does not cover all, there's no guidebook / handbook out there to follow, get creative and come up with your own solutions.
- Passion - never stop realizing what's important, the community. Keeping the community engaged requires passion in you first.
- Collaboration - don't think you can come up with everything on your own, get the community involved and you'll be amazed at their ideas and voice.
About the Author: Tyler Crosson is the Community Manager / Marketing Manager for SocialMediopolis.com and leads a team of 50 moderators for a community of over 500,000 social media marketing professionals across the globe; He is also the CEO and Publisher of ClickVenture.com - for Online Entrepreneurs. He has a very successful background in Social Media Marketing / Management and starting / growing companies through executive strategy, social strategy and visionary strategy. You can connect with him here on LinkedIN.