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Community Managers Are Taking Over the Tech World

Community Managers are taking over the tech worldThere’s been a big trend in the community space lately.

Name a startup and they probably have a community manager… or they’re desperately looking for one.

Not only that, but more and more community managers exist on the executive level…they’re finally getting seats at the table.

VC’s are hiring community managers now too. Spark Capital, Quotidian Ventures and FoundersClub all have full time community managers and they’re no interns. Spark just hired all-around badass Danya Cheskis-Gold who previously ran community at SkillShare.

Media sites, marketplaces, collaborative consumption platforms, social platforms, game developers and even developer platforms are ALL hiring community managers.

It seems many companies are discovering that yes you can build it, and yes they might even come, but you have to be focused on the customer, on building engagement amongst users, on listening and learning, on making the sure product properly represents the needs of its people and on improving retention.

Community is no longer being looked at as a fluffy, “nice to have” role. It’s a necessity as it’s been proven to greatly increase retention.

So for those of you looking for the next hot job in the tech world, think about getting into community.

Salaries are about to shoot up. If you’re a CM, ask for a raise.

Salaries will shoot up for 3 reasons:

1)   Increasing demand.

Pretty simple.

2)   Low supply.

It’s incredibly difficult to hire for a community manager. This is because the role has two important factors; experience and relevance. You can find an experienced community manager but if they’re not relevant to your community, they won’t be a good fit.

There aren’t a great deal of highly experienced community builders out there given the relatively recent resurgence of the role. And the ones who are that good already have amazing jobs.

The good news is there are a lot of new CMs being trained by companies like Google, Yelp, Airbnb, Soundcloud, all of whom have community teams in the double digits.

3)   Difficult to outsource

What’s interesting is that while developer salaries are at an all time high, that profession has less defensibility than community. Products are becoming easier to build with out of the box solutions, developers are being pumped out by boot camps and much of it is being outsourced.

Community needs a platform to exist which you can get out of the box, but the relationships that make up the actual community cannot be automatically implemented and its very difficult to outsource.

It’s an exciting time to be a community manager.  There are a few good resources out there that can teach you the skills you’ll need.

Get on board.

Photo cred: ntr23 via Compfight cc

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About the author

David Spinks

CEO of TheCommunityManager.com, CMXSummit and LetsFeast.com. Lifelong student, community builder and writer.

9 comments
FatimaDLora
FatimaDLora

Thanks for the article, David. I think it's important to be a fit for the employer's community. I think the reason Community Managers are in a demand is because there are so many companies that are starting to understand the importance of having an online presence that they now want to hire someone. I'm constantly looking at the jobs available online and it's pretty interesting to see so many companies -- well-known and not -- hiring. 


Best time to be a community manager! 

leogopal
leogopal

This is a great topic David! 

As a community manager myself, I think this is awesome.

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Not sure I agree.

Both demand and supply are variables. As demand grows over the years, so does the number of people with community experience. Next year, we'll all have another year of experience. That will keep salaries relatively static. 

Also, there isn't much data that says demand is exploding. It might be, but that certainly isn't reflected by Indeed Job trends - http://www.indeed.com/jobtrends?q=%22online+communities%22+OR+%22online+community%22&l=&relative=1

This appears to show the explosion happened 5 to 6 years ago. Perhaps there is other data here, I'd need to see it. 

I suspect we'll see clearer brackets of salaries where the low-end moderators get paid close to McDonald money and the very experienced get much more money - but not a huge change for those in the middle. 

DavidSpinks
DavidSpinks moderator

@Richard Millington thanks for the comment and the counterpoints Rich.  To address a few of them:

"Both demand and supply are variables."

True.

"As demand grows over the years, so does the number of people with community experience. Next year, we'll all have another year of experience. That will keep salaries relatively static."

Perhaps but probably not.  When the demand for something goes up, the supply has to respond to fill that demand.  In the case of jobs like community managers, when the demand goes up, sure a lot of people will start to train to become CM's, but it will take a few years for any of them to reach the level experience that the demand calls for.  

So based solely on the economics, the salary of the entry level community manager won't go up too much, but I imagine the salary for CM's with 3, 5, 10 years experience will increase.

Beyond the economics, there are factors like perceived value of community strategy and the caliber of applicants it starts to attract.  Both of which could serve to increase salaries even at entry levels.


"Also, there isn't much data that says demand is exploding. It might be, but that certainly isn't reflected by Indeed Job trends - http://www.indeed.com/jobtrends?q=%22online+communities%22+OR+%22online+community%22&l=&relative=1"

Yea I don't have much data to back this up. I haven't seen this kind of data out there.  It's really just based on what I've seen personally here in Silicon Valley and in NYC.  Please keep in mind, I'm specifically talking about the tech and startup scenes.  The data in that link is definitely interesting but doesn't take into account a few important factors:

1) Industry

2) Are they actually working on community?  We both know very well how many job postings are given the title of community but aren't in fact a community position.

The trends I'm speaking to are personal observations.  There are a lot more tech startups and VCs hiring for legitimate community manager positions.  

JPedde
JPedde

@Richard Millington I tend to agree on the salaries - if anything they'll tend to normalize as more and more people look towards "social media" as a career, or they come out of school with better skills.  Gives recruiters more to choose from.

But I do agree that right now the talent isn't there to fill the jobs.  Rich - aren't you having a hard time filling your Community Manager position?  That seems to be a common trend amongst those I know hiring at the moment.  

monkeytrousers
monkeytrousers

I tend to also agree on the salary front, with social media becoming a viable career for many it will give recruiters the option and choice.

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

@JPedde I think we hear more about people that can't fill jobs than those that have.

If you can't fill a position you do what I did; promote it everywhere you can.

Which is why we tend to hear about these stories more. Meanwhile there are probably dozens, maybe, hundreds, of community professionals being hired every month. 

Even for those that can't fill a position, they're more likely to lower their standards than increase the salary. 


JPedde
JPedde

@Richard Millington I'm only going off of my own experiences & the difficulty in hiring and how long it takes to find someone that's not full of it ;)   But I do agree that there are loads of people being hired everyday.  Doesn't mean that they're completely qualified. 

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