How Should Community Managers Allocate Their Time? When Do You Hire More?

June 17, 2011 Comments Off

Jacob asks when should you hire more community managers?

It's not a simple answer. 

You might see a community manager responsible for a community of 50,000 members. That might seem cost-efficient, but it's incredibly wasteful. First, few of those 50,000 will be active. Second, the community will be wasting it's huge potential. Why would you set up a community if you're going to waste it's huge potential? You wouldn't have 1 cash register open to handle a line of 50,000 right? 


The Community Manager's Role

Lets break the community manager's role into it's unique components 

  • Recruitment. Persuading more people to join.
  • Content. Creating and editing material.
  • Relationships. Building relationships with top members, welcoming people, recruiting and managing volunteers
  • Events/Activities. Planning and executing events/activities for the community.
  • Strategy. Collect and analyzing data. Setting and communicating the future direction of the community.
  • Moderation. Removing the bad stuff, encouraging the good stuff. Initiating conversations. 
  • Technical. Platforms upgrades and maintenance.
  • Business/Misc. Integrating the community with the business, fighting for resources, ensuring business objectives are met and expectations are realistic. 

With just 40 hours in a week (35 if you include an hour lunch break), that time vanishes quickly. A community manager in the early stages might spend 15 hours on recruitment, 10 on relationships, 5 on content, 5 on events and a few hours on moderation, technical, strategy and the business side of things.

A community manager of a more active community would have a different balance. Perhaps 5 hours on recruitment, 5 on content, 5 on relationships, 10 on events, 10 on moderation and the rest on strategy, technical and business activities. But this changes at certain times, e.g. a strategy change, new website, major events etc..

Beyond a certain level of activity, the community manager is unable to do their job well. Things start to give. Recruitment is the first to go. The number of newcomers starts to drop. But you wont notice that because strategy has vanished too. Then events/activities go and the engagement and level of activity drops. Soon, the community manager is managing a community with fewer and fewer active members. Perhaps just 10%? Sound familiar? But, hey, at least it's manageable for one person.


The solution

You hire more community managers when the community manager runs out of time to every facet of their job effectively. Don't simply hire a community manager to do the same role, split the role. Have community manager 1 working on recruitment, relationships and moderation, and community manager 2 working on content, strategy, technical and business. 

Keep tabs on how much time community managers are spending on each element of their job. Slowly shift the balance as the community grows and develops. 

Most importantly, don't waste the community's amazing potential. If 50,000 members want to join your community, it's probably a good idea to hire the staff necessary to look after them.

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