In some projects, the client will ask if they need a full-time community manager.
My answer is usually the same, ideally…yes.
This usually cues some nervous shuffling, side-glances, and disgruntled mumbling about budgets and headcounts.
The follow-up question is more telling.
“If we can’t get a full-time community manager, what is the minimum amount of time someone can invest in a community and make it succeed?”
One problem here is success isn’t binary. There isn’t a magic number of hours per week that suddenly flips a community from unsuccessful to successful.
The second problem is it’s not about time, but commitment. Someone doing community around other tasks will often try to do community more efficiently. They give shorter, quicker, responses to questions. They don’t check back in previous discussions to see if the problem was resolved. They don’t reach out and build relationships with top members. They don’t put in the extra mile of effort that makes the community succeed.
The rapid decline in commitment makes calculating the minimum amount of time required problematic. Someone who splits community with another job role is probably only 25% as good as a full-time staffer. They do the basic stuff but are unlikely to go the extra mile.