There’s increasing concern that being a Community manager is a dead end career. Good. I’ll be honest- I have yet to work for an organization (Brand or Agency) that has a clear career path for this role. (Marketing leaders pause here and let that sink in…)
The hard fact is: often as a community manager you’re supposed to have CMO-level care for the brand’s reputation and COO-level preoccupation with ensuring your work provides value, without any reciprocal loyalty to you to ensure you’re growing. (Some brands bypass the community manager role entirely-outsourcing it to staffing agencies- where there’s even less opportunity for community managers to grow. Run away from those positions)
Rather than treasuring these individuals who have their fingers on the pulse of their brands, community managers are seen as expendable roles- to be tested out at the whim of the department but never rallied behind or invested in. This is in strong contrast to creative, content, PR and digital campaign roles. Moreover, even if a community manager finds themselves in a department that does value them there’s still a high likelihood that their boss doesn’t fully get what they do and instead sees the role as a “whew I no longer need to think about social media” bucket. That’s not a recipe for career development.
This means two things:
- Upward momentum in community management requires more self advocacy than the average junior marketing role
- Community managers need to be more choosey about their marketing departments and the roles they take.
(Marketing leaders – pause here again and digest what I’m saying. This is not an okay status quo for people on your team. I challenge you to take your community manager out to coffee this week and ask them where they honestly see themselves in 2 years.)
So what’s a budding community manager to do?
Here’s the thing. With the right mindset and the right team, a community manager role can be an incredible opportunity for learning and fast tracking ones’ career. But doing so requires a very hands-on DIY approach. I go into the mindset in my post on creating your resume here.
When you’re evaluating whether or not to accept a role here are 5 questions to ask during your interview to figure out if the department has room for career growth:
Do you notice some commonalities here? A few key takeaways:
- In 2019 it should not be the role of a community manager to be an agent of digital transformation to drive an organization forward.
- Your manager should take the time to educate themselves as they put together the job description on the appropriate roles and responsibilities of a community manager.
- Your team should feel the need for this role and it should not be up to you to make the case to them.
As a community manager, growth occurs from being asked to provide campaign briefs, presenting data, collaborating on content strategy, and being party to overall marketing strategy sessions. If you’re walled off from this by a manager who doesn’t understand what they’re actually asking you to do or a team that is skeptical of digital transformation, no amount of free food, trendy office or happy hours will substitute for the career growth you’ll be passing up. In the immortal words of Monty Python- Run Away!