Online community manager

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The online community manager role is a growing and developing profession. People in this position work to build, grow and manage online communities around a brand or cause.


While the term "online community manager" may not have been used at the time, the role has existed since online systems first began offering features and functions that allowed for community creation. These early efforts, in the form of Bulletin board systems, had leaders known as System Operators or Sysops. The early 1990s saw the growth of mainstream online computer services such as Prodigy, CompuServe and America Online. Prominent features of these services included communities which went by various names; Special Interest Groups, Communities of Interest and so on. And their leaders were often referred to as Community Managers.

General roles[edit]

Online community managers may serve a variety of roles depending on the nature and purpose of their online community, which may or may not be part of a profit motivated enterprise. Patti Anklam has asserted that "Every network has an underlying purpose" and motivations for such network creation include; Mission, Business, Idea, Learning or Personal.[1] She claims such leaders hold the collective vision, create and manage relationships and manage collaborative processes. Anklam does not distinguish a fundamental difference for these roles as related to the varying purposes of network, (i.e. community), creation.

Professional roles[edit]

This is an emerging and fast growing profession, especially given the growth of branded online communities, online research communities, corporate blogs and other social media marketing and research activities.

There is a list of online community managers employed by large corporations (a Fortune 5000 company or over 1,000 employees). This list is certainly not exhaustive and does not include the many community managers at smaller organizations, but it does indicate the prevalence of the position in mid 2008.


In most of the online communities, a Community Manager is one of the most powerful member/s. Her/his position is considered above any other forum staff. A community manager can hire Moderators and Forum Administrators. Normally a Community Manager is the employee of the organisation and is not a volunteer.

Culture and appreciation[edit]

In 2010, an international Community Manager Appreciation Day to take place on the 4th Monday of January.[2] People are encouraged to send sincere thank you notes to their online community managers.

CA Technologies participated in the 2011 Community Manager Appreciation Day by issuing a press release and a YouTube video to publicly celebrate the contributions of its community managers. Many other events around the world commemorate this event.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Anklam, Patti (2007). Net Work. Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-7506-8297-8.  | pages=4,31,108
  2. ^ Original blog post where the event originated (25/01/2010): "Community Manager Appreciation Day #CMAD (Every 4th Monday of Jan)"

Further reading and external links[edit]