Category Archives: Community Manager

Is Product Management the same as Community Management?

One of my coworkers read my post yesterday and, stopping me in the hall said “But isn’t your job (Product Management) basically the same as a community manager?”

I’m just going to cut straight to the chase with this one and say it… No, Product Management is not the same as Community Management (unless the community is your product I suppose).

Although there are overlaps.

For instance, if your organization has a product management team, but no community team, then your product managers need to take on the role of advocating the customers voice within the dev process; and making sure the development cycle works FOR the customer (and not for the MACHINE!). I also produce my fair share of content and wrote for the company blog and newsletter (both of which are currently defunct unfortunately).

And while this is all important, and the product managers should always consider the end user as one of the most important share holders during their research cycle, they will never (or should never anyway) have the amount of time needed to really engage, foster and build a community.

Enter the Community Manager.

The Community Manager has the enviable job of, if not defining then at least executing your companies overall outreach strategy. Think: Advocate, Evangelist, Promoter, Conversationalist, Schmoozer, Moderator, Networker, Coordinator and so much more.

Of course there’s tracking and reporting, analyzing and metrics, worrying about ROI (which can be more difficult for the Community Manager), producing multi-channel content, staying up to date with the latest online social tools, ferreting out hidden communities and working varied hours (unless of course you can convince your community to stick to YOUR 9-5 schedule!)

So yes, there are similarities, but no, a community manager is not a product manager.

Community Manager

I’ve spent a good amount of time this week looking into the roles of Web Strategist and Community Manager and the one thing that I can say I’ve learned without any doubt is that the responsibilities that fall within these roles seem to be as varied as the companies that staff them.

For instance:

Some companies seem to staff the community manager as an entry level position, with little more to do than write for a blog or moderate a forum.

Other companies (seemingly the ones that get ‘it’) offer this as a senior management role with salaries rising well beyond the 100k mark (although the average seems to be in the 80k neighbourhood) and including a broad range of roles and responsibilities.

Currently we don’t staff for a community manager at 1ShoppingCart; we have a few people carrying out what I would consider to be community manager tasks like monitoring external forums and I personally watch our brand across multiple channels (like Twitter and Facebook); but these aren’t our primary roles.

I read somewhere today (and I can’t find my reference note at the moment unfortunately, I think it was from a Gartner report, but will update my post when I do find it) that 60%+ of all Fortune 1000 companies will be fostering online communities by 2010.  So do we need a standardization of the Community Manager role?

This is a topic I will be delving into a little deeper in the coming weeks, and I hope you’ll join me by adding your own feedback in the comments section (I know there are people reading my blog that know more about this than I do!)

For now, I thought a good way to get the ball rolling would be to break down what the role/roles looked like, from a responsibilities POV.  Click the image below to open a mindmap I’ve created and be sure to share your thoughts & corrections! Thanks!

> click for full-sized image <

FYI the mindmap is an aggregation of dozens of sources (esp. blog posts & job postings), as well as the culmination of my thoughts over the past year.

For more information on the subject (and I will be compiling more resources as I identify them) the two single best sources of information on Community Management that I can recommend are Connie Bensen and Jeremiah Owyang (both of whom I’ve also been following on Twitter for ages)