It has become a foundational position for any brand's marketing team, but few know where it began. As we've told you, there are several important roles of a Community Manager, but let's take a look at where the position has been, as well as what is has become today. Time to take a tour through the history of Community Managers.
Where it Started
In the early 2000's and before, forums exploded on the internet. Gaming, cars, sports teams, anything and everything had its own forum with numerous posters and subscribers, and still do today. This was a time when the internet was very much in its Wild West era, and the need for moderators on these forums emerged.
Moderators essentially were, and are, authority figures in charge of keeping posters within the boundaries of their specific forum. That typically means weeding out the spam, irrelevant postings, and users who were making the forum less productive. The end goal? Generate as much positive interaction and discussion on the topic as possible.
Leaving the Gaming World
As forums grew and grew, the mid 2000's saw brands beginning to engage in the online conversation. Companies started to hire people to post on message boards representing the brand, answering questions and engaging in discussion on their behalf, including some product testing by tech companies. These posters were essentially "the keyboard behind the brand" and often times would manage forums created by these companies. This is the first official incarnation of the role as we know it today.
By the late 2000's, social media was taking the world by storm. Everyone was rushing to join Facebook and Twitter, and that included brands. Several forward-thinking brands saw the new venue as legitimate, and joined the flock of consumers on social media sites.
With social media accounts up and running, companies needed someone to manage them, which resulted in "the young guy" often taking on tweeting for the brand in addition to his or her daily duties. Obviously this trend of divided responsibilities did not work for long, as digital continued to expand into the powerhouse it is today, demanding a full-time position of its own.
Once the need for a dedicated role presented itself, the role became the position we know it to be today; the name, face, and keyboard for your brand. According to HubSpot, community managers in 2015 are responsible for:
- Building and managing the company’s social media profiles and presence.
- Creating shareable content for specific networks to spread both our brand and our content.
- Monitoring and engaging in relevant social discussions about our company, competitors, and/or industry, both from existing leads and customers as well as from brand new audiences.
- Tracking, measuring, and analyzing all initiatives to report on social media ROI.
...and a lot more too. The point is, the position has grown from a singular role in moderating forums, into one that demands several key responsibilities for a marketing team. Despite the multitude of responsibilities, a lot of people still don't really know what a Community Manager does. The simple answer: a little bit of everything.
If you are a social media or community manager looking for further education in the field to have a better handle on your role, check out VPM Academy below.