Traits of a Community Manager – 2009 to 2014: Some Things Just Don’t Change

You see post about Traits of Community managers pop-up from time to time and for the most part they do a good job. Way back in 2009, I posted one where I polled actual, honest to goodness, Community Managers.

I posed the question to the group of CMs I know around the gaming industry.

What do you think the the “5 Traits” should be?

This is my interpretation of their responses. They may not totally agree with what I’ve written since all communities and Community Managers differ, however these were the traits that were mentioned most often in their responses. I’ve divided them in to Primary and Secondary traits. The Primary were mentioned significantly more often than the Secondary and are in many ways tied together.

7 Essential Traits for Community Managers, by CMs


If you’re curious, here are some more…

The New Social ROI: Reciprocity of Influence

A lot of people would like to tie Social Media efforts to old school “Return on Investment”, considering profits in relation to capital invested. I would challenge that notion by offering another view.

4476928956_8a1c881e12In psychology, “Reciprocity” is described as responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kind actions. Think of it as a social expectation that people will respond to each other in similar ways; responding to gifts and kindnesses from others with similar benevolence of their own, and responding to harmful, hurtful acts from others with either indifference or some form of retaliation. And it has been shown that the possibility for reciprocal actions increases the rate of contribution, giving evidence for the importance of reciprocity in social situations [1]. There are numerous examples of these positive and negative forms of reciprocity online, many found on The Consumerist.

Let’s talk about Influence. We know that Social Influence occurs when someone’s emotions, opinions, or behaviors are affected by others. It takes many forms and can be seen in leadership, persuasion, and marketing. I’m not going to bore you with the fine details but there are two aspects that really apply to us here. Normative Influence is an influence to conform to the positive expectations of others. Once you begin your community you will set down some rules for what is expectable behavior. Your normative influence will encourage people to stick to those rules and further go on to help guide and assist those who might not follow or know the rules. Informational Influence is to accept information from another when there is an uncertainty due to ambiguity or disagreement. This would be you, as an “Official Voice” of the community or brand.

As a Social Media or Community Manager we should strive to make our Social Impact as positive as possible, reaching out to help and support our communities, and encouraging them to reciprocate by sharing their positive feelings and experiences with their circles of influence with the hope that their friends and followers will find their way to your communities and brands. From there it will fall to you to once again ensure that they have a great experience themselves.

Within Social Media, the real measure of ROI is the Reciprocity of Influence generated through engagement and social sharing in your communities and brands.

Image: “Social Circles of Influence – Influence occurs in small circles of influence”
Graphic produced by Bruce Dupree

1. Fehr, Ernst; and Simon Gächter (Summer 2000). “Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity”. Journal of Economic Perspectives 14 (3): 159–181. doi:10.1257/jep.14.3.159. ISSN 0895-3309.

“I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” – Thoughts on Moderation


I think it is safe to say that most Community Managers are familiar with the “Online Disinhibition Effect“, better known as “John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory“.

For the most part Community Managers need to think about forums and comment sections as a holiday party with your friends. You invite them over to share stories, talk about your day, laugh, debate and generally try to have a good time. Differences of opinions are bound to happen and someone might poke a bit of fun at someone else, but all in all it should be an entertaining and engaging event at your house.

So what happens when one of the people at your party starts insulting and degrading another person? You – or someone – would step in and say “Hey! Calm down, there is no need to be like that”, and try to smooth things over so the party can continue. However if this person cannot stop the bad behavior and disrespecting of the other guests, chances are you will step in and say “Look, you need to stop or I’m going to have to ask you to leave”.

Hopefully they get the message. If not, you show them the door.

The same should apply to your forums and comment areas. Debate is fine, criticism should be constructive, dissenting thoughts should be respectful and above all, common decency should be shown to others. If this isn’t happening, then you first reach out to the offender and ask them to stop. Maybe ask them to “Be the better man” and let the heated conversation go. If that doesn’t work, let them know that you will take action if things don’t change and then stick to your guns and remove them if needed. Just be sure you always communicate with them about what you are doing and why you needed to take that step.

Forums are Dead, Long Live Forums!

Seems like every month or so someone is decrying the death of forums or that platform hasn’t changed in well over a decade. I want to talk about that, but first I want to talk about perhaps the oldest form of communication online; Email and more specifically, the parts of an Email.

forumsEmails consist of the following:

  • From someone.
  • To someone or a group people.
  • Possibly a Subject.
  • The body or the bulk of the message.

Sure there can be attachments, but really that’s it. Now let’s also look at some of the more popular ways of communicating online.

Twitter update:

  • From someone.
  • To someone or your followers.
  • No Subject.
  • The body or the bulk of the message.

Facebook wall post:

  • From someone.
  • To someone or your friends.
  • Maybe a Subject as a photo, video or poll.
  • The body or the bulk of the message or poll options.

Reddit thread:

  • From someone.
  • To someone or a group people.
  • With a Subject/Topic/Title.
  • The body or the bulk of the message.

Quora question:

  • From someone.
  • To someone or a group people.
  • With a Subject/Topic/Title.
  • The body or the bulk of the message.

That seems pretty consistent, wouldn’t you agree?

Now let’s talk about what makes up a typical forum post:

  • From someone.
  • To someone or a group people.
  • With a Subject/Topic/Title.
  • The body or the bulk of the message.

Feeling a little Déjà Vu?

I think we can agree that forums are not dead and, at least for the foreseeable future, will continue to grow and evolve to fit the needs of the communities they serve.

Quotes on Community Management

Just a collection of quotes I’ve seen lately. Sorry I didn’t think to jot down who said them.

  1. Perfect objectivity is an unrealistic goal; fairness, however, is not.
  2. Build your reputation by helping other people build theirs.
  3. If you do not know how to ask the right questions, you will discover nothing.
  4. If you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to stop and assess.
  5. You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible.

And a final bonus one that I’ve carried for years. I think it beautify captures what the essence of Community is.

Community cannot for long feed on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers. – Howard Thurman

Do you have any quotes that you think apply to Communities? Drop them in a comment below.