This post always bugged me.
It summarized a lot of bad job descriptions into a widely-linked article.
There are four tenets to professional community management, but it's not what you might imagine.
- Data: Data tells you where you are now. It tells you how you're doing, whether the community is producing the benefits you promised and where you need to focus your efforts. This is the future. All the metrics are available to us. You can find an example of data in practice here. If you're not actively tracking your data, how do you have any idea how your community is doing or what you should be working on to further develop the community?
- Theory: Theory tells you where you need to go next. A professional community manager has a terrific grasp of community and group theory (especially how it applies to online communities). They must know how communities develop. They must know the basics social science that underpins the work. They use this theory to set the goals, strategy and actions for the community.
- Skills: Skills is what gets you from A to B. Once you've used data to determine where you are and theory to decide where to go next, it's your skills that get you there. A community manager has great skills in influence/persuasion, communication, project management, and relationship development. A basic understanding of technology is good too.
- Experience: Experience is what gets you over the bumps in the roads along the way. Experience tells you how to respond to difficult situations, what's likely to happen and how to respond to it. Experience gives you that mental and physical preparation for the hard work of further developing a community. It's what keeps you from reacting badly to difficult situations. Experience, for example, will ensure you keep management properly informed about the benefits the community is producing before they kill the project.
If we were going to add a 5th, it would be passion for the topic. It's essential and tough to fake. It helps you have connections and keeps you going when times are tough. It's the grease that makes everything easier.
If your community isn't doing as well you hoped, it's probably because you're missing one or more of the above.