How Many Community Managers Does it Take?

CountingWhen we think of Community Management we tend to think of this role as a singular person. 

When we started talking about social media a couple of years ago, this made sense.  We were experimenting with the tools and trying to figure out where it fits in our organization.  There weren’t any real models we could use to help us navigate these waters.  Most of us were starting off small, even if we were located in large companies.  Usually we were luckily to get a dedicated person we could call a Community Manager without having them be burdened with other responsibilities. 

Now, I think most people recognize that in order to be successful online you need to have a dedicated Community Manager.  It is a challenging job and one that we tend to burden with all sorts of tasks and responsibilities. 


In many ways, if a Community Manager is doing all of the tasks we associate with the job then they truly are the unsung heros of our organization.  Some of the expected tasks most Community Managers take on are: promoting and advertising of the community, provide input on the strategy, host, engage with community members, develop and post content, brand management, crisis communications, provide analysis on analytics, and generate reports.  Depending on how big your community is and how many platforms you cover any one of these tasks could be someone’s full time job.  In fact, most organizations I’ve seen have a team of at least two to three people helping their organization manage their online communities.

At the Department of State we are so serious about ensuring our online communities are properly resourced that we added the requirement that all online communities are required to have a Community Manager.  There is nothing worse than having a bunch of dead sites sitting out there with your brand on it and no one home.  We expect the policy will help people think about their resources and time before starting an online community.

In order for any organization to succeed we need to move away from thinking of the Community Manager as a one person job, but instead as the job of the entire organization.  It needs to become part of our company DNA and not just another task we do.  Why the entire organization you ask?  Because it is impossible for one person to even begin to attempt to do a good job at all the tasks we touched on above.  But more importantly if we think of engagement as being one of the primary tasks for a Community Manager, we need to recognize that a crucial part of this is the development of content.  If we don’t have meaningful and interesting content, then it makes it really hard to attract people to our community and it is even harder to start a discussion with them.  Not to mention we would be down right boring!   

What is meaningful content?

 OneForty wrote some great tips in a recent EBook on how to create good content no matter what kind of community you manage.  But still this is a lot for one person to manage!  And of course there is no one person who is qualified to talk about all aspects of your organization in detail.  You hired them to think about all the aspects of being a Community Manager so unless your company is very small, it is doubtful they can know everything that is going on and still be an amazing Community Manager. 

Engagement with the public requires you to put your subject matter experts front and center with the public.  It means subject matter experts need to re-think their jobs and start thinking about how to take what they do and their knowledge and turn it into meaningful content.  Gone are the days when people could say, they aren’t a people person or they don’t deal with the public. 

Enjoy this article?

Enter your email to receive free community management advice in your inbox:
About the author

Lovisa Williams

Lovisa Williams is the Deputy Director for the Department of State’s International Information Programs (IIP) Bureau’s Office of Innovative Engagement (OIE). She is the Social Media Strategist for the Department of State. She is the co-author for the Department of State’s first social media use policy. She is also the founder and the manager of the Department’s Community Managers Group. She developed the first Community Managers Boot Camp and continues to teach Department of State employees how to be a Community Manager. Lovisa has over thirteen years of experience working for the Federal Government on technology and social media projects. She specializes in how disruptive technologies require organizational transformation. Lovisa lives at the intersection of people, government, and technology. She is an innovator who actively explores new ways to solve problems leveraging technology. Lovisa is an active participant in the community advocating for Government’s use of social media. She is a regular speaker in the Government 2.0 community. Lovisa, and her work at the Department of State, are included in Charlene Li’s book Open Leadership as a business case. She has served for the past two years as one of the organizers for the Government 2.0 Camp in Los Angeles, CA. Lovisa works on a number of community projects such as being the co-founder of the Mobile Citizen Summit and the founder of the Global Citizenship Project. All viewpoints, opinions and ideas expressed here do not represent the official policy or opinion of the Department of State or the United States Government.


Lovisa, I love what you say about community management should be in the DNA of the entire organization. We manage several communities and have noted great successes when collaboration is infused into everything, from platforms to processes. If content and engagement are add-ons to the to-do list, they don't get done. Instead, if they are byproducts of a workflow ... they become second nature. Great article!


Lovisa, I am the community manager for a standalone Jive platform and sometimes I feel like the chief cook, bottle washer, and test engineer so I whole heartedly concur with your post. I once heard a well respected government technologist make the same argument about Innovation. You are right...its about changing a brain at a time.


Loved this post! Especially -- "in order for any organization to succeed we need to move away from thinking of the Community Manager as a one person job, but instead as the job of the entire organization." -- Often a challenge for the community manager is to get the company to realize that clear communication, timely sharing of information (events, promotions etc.) and an unsiloed approach is what is needed.


Thanks for the shout-out! Love this post.

I see the pain-points here. I can relate. I started out as a community manager at my company, tasked with the job of pure community management related tasks like engaging people in an online forum and trying to get people to engage on our website. But as our business model and needs changed i ended up taking on a more marketing type of role where I was pushing out the messages - email marketing, content creation, eBooks, webinars etc. I became less and less involved with staying in the community and hanging out engaging/moderating/connecting and more pushing out messages to them, leaving them to (hopefully) talk amongst themselves. I've done the best I can to wear all the hats I need to.... :)

DavidSpinks moderator

It's worth noting that community building is a process that involves many different parts of a company...not just community managers.

As @LaurenVargas can attest to, having a team of community managers can be really effective.

We just need to remember that no department should be a silo, and community is no different.


Lovisa, great post. You hit the nail on the head. Community is the hub of the organization. We can wear many hats, but cannot do it all. One of our most important roles is to be an internal community manager and educate those within our organization. We have to find the right person to respond at the right time.


  1. […] and learning from some of the most best I would encourage you to check out their site.  My first post went live today.  I’d love to hear what you think.  Please add your comments either here or […]