What can you do that an intern with a few weeks training can't do?
If you spend your time welcoming members, removing spammers, responding to comments, writing content, answering questions, resolving disputes, and tweaking the platform, then you might struggle to think of an answer.
Worse, your answer might be to proclaim that you're less likely to make mistakes.
That's not good enough.
All these tasks are important, but they're not difficult. They can easily be outsourced. They treat the community as a problem to be managed. The company just wants the community taken care of. They don't want to be bothered by it.
So what's high-value work when it comes to developing communities?
Exactly that. High value work is developing communities.
I'd pay a premium for a community manager that can analyze where the community is now and set a direction for the future. This would include an action plan about what s/he would achieve every single week.
I'd pay a premium for a community manager that can ascertain the ROI of the community and then steadily increase it.
I'd pay a premium for a community manager that can create and execute a defensible plan for growing the community, increasing participation and building a strong sense of community amongst members.
I'd pay a premium for a community manager that can steadily build an internal network of support for the community, and increasingly integrate the community into the organization's activities.
I'd pay a premium for a community managers that proactively cultivate relationships with the top 100 members of the community and those in the community's ecosystem. Can you use your earned influence to shape what members do in the community? Can you get top people in your sector to give interviews, participate in events and submit guest columns to the community on a monthly basis? Can you get media coverage for your community as often as Mumsnet does?
There are a lot of high-value community management tasks that are incredibly valuable to a community. The key is they're all proactive and focus upon development, not maintenance. They treat the community as an asset that needs more attention and nurturing, and not a problem to be managed.
If you came in to work today without a plan for what you want to achieve in your community this week (not actions you take, but an improvement in the state of the community), then you're probably not doing high value community management…yet.