Important Community Management Skills

By Andy Steggles posted Jan 22, 2016 04:47 PM



How would you describe your job? Community management is a growing field, gaining more traction every year. Even though more organizations and companies are adopting community, each one is still working through how community management works and fits into organizational needs.


Likewise, it’s often difficult to decide what department community falls to. What is similar across the board, no matter the description or department, is that community managers are seldom bored -- it’s a dynamic job where they wear several hats and manage many tasks at once.


So how does that balance work? According to The Community Roundtable’s 2015 Community Careers and Compensation Report, a community manager benefits from using about 50 different skills, covering everything from technical skills to engagement skills. That’s a lot to take in - if your organization needs a community manager, how will you find a Jack-of-all-trades candidate?


While The Community Roundtable’s 50 skills framework can appear intimidating, let’s go through the skill breakdown and categorization. Your potential candidates are probably already pretty adept at most of them.


Each of the 50 skills in the framework can be put in five buckets:

  1. Engagement skills

  2. Strategic skills

  3. Business skills

  4. Content skills

  5. Technical skills

When you look at those buckets, does it look slightly less intimidating? Let’s break down each bucket and see exactly what each entails.


Engagement skills

This first bucket is probably the most obvious -- a community manager’s job is to make sure members/customers engage and receive value from your community. What are the exact skills? To engage, a good community manager needs to be an excellent listener. But it doesn’t stop there. They need to be able to turn those needs into actions and visible change. Besides listening, they must spur discussion, moderate, recruit/retain new members and advocate for members.


Strategic skills

These skills take community managers from the ground level to a bird’s eye view. What is your community’s roadmap and vision for the year (or next few years)? Strategy also involves consulting and explaining engagement techniques to the higher-ups, like a supervisor or the organization’s executives.


Business skills

Connecting the community to your organization’s overall business goals and success is critical for demonstrating value. That’s why having a little business acumen and the ability to speak on that level is important. Do the candidates know how to calculate and explain your community’s ROI? While not a very difficult task, but will go far with executives who demand to know. There’s also the nitty gritty of business management that is helpful, such as budgeting or hiring if the community team is growing.


Content skills

Solid writing skills are important for almost any job. Community management is no exception, since most of the communication is written. That’s why community managers need to be able to write and edit anything from discussion posts to announcements and emails. If people don’t understand, what’s the point? And keep in mind: if your community is open to the public, basic knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO) is important for growth.


Technical skills

Even though community managers spend most of their time on computers, high-level technical skills aren’t pivotal. Being able to complete basic data collection and analysis of member behavior, like engagement rates, is important -- your community platform probably has a dashboard to help. Basic knowledge of user experience and design is also important. Not only will it make the site look better, but it will make it more accessible to all community users.



Of all the skills above, one important skill (or trait) not mentioned is empathy and the ability to interact with people constantly while maintaining composure. In the end, it doesn’t matter how well someone writes or what their technical abilities may be -- if they aren’t fascinated by people and what makes them tick, community management may not be the job for them.




Nov 18, 2021 02:39 PM

What a great condensed framework on what Community Management entails. Separating The Community Roundtables 50 skills into Five "buckets" was very beneficial. If gave me a more in depth depiction of the core competencies and characters that a Community Manager would need to be able to thrive. One thing I found interesting is just how the five buckets associate with one another. 

One question I have is which bucket skill does former or current Community Managers believe they use the most? Or perhaps is the most vital in being a successful Community Manager

Nov 15, 2021 10:06 AM

The Community Roundtable's 2015 report offers a perspective into all the skills that a community manager may possess. Once it's broken down into the five buckets, it makes it easier to digest and understand how these buckets play into the every day role of a CM. Each bucket shows how diverse a community manager is, which can be quite intimidating when the skills are not easily broken up as above.

I enjoyed this article but found myself asking a question: would it be beneficial for organizations to survey their community managers for a diverse range of buckets that each one fills more/less?

This was a great read!

Nov 09, 2021 01:39 PM

This blog and its breakdown of the 5 core buckets of community management puts into perspective a blueprint of success. Each bucket is relied upon with the next and intertwines the skillsets for each of them to be successful in driving the shared goal or outcome. The "sixth bucket" being empathy resonated with me. Being able to interact with people in ways that they can hear or understand you seems to be the ground floor of skills needed in this growing arena.

I am curious how these skills are developed for the community managers and which skills do they find themselves  using more often?

Nov 03, 2021 03:36 PM

This was a helpful read to learn about the qualities and skills necessary to excel in community management. I found it interesting that the 5 buckets of skills (engagement, strategic, business, content and technical) are all interrelated in some way. For example, in order to have engagement within the community on the platform, then some technical skills will be helpful in getting people to engage, like user experience. Or if you want to think about and share strategy for the future, it will behoove you to have some business skills so you can get the data you need to make informed decisions.

For myself, I would love to hear from current HL employees about what skills have helped them the most as community managers, and what steps they took to learn those skills.

Aug 17, 2021 12:26 PM

This article does a great job delineating different skill sets for successful community management but also showcases how these aspects intersect. It is interesting to see the way that these various niches play into one another. For example, a community manager needs to engage with their community, listen to goals and concerns, and then translate those bullet points into a strategic plan that aligns with crucial end points. I also thought it was interesting that translating, rather than just providing, information and analytics back to your community was highlighted. It would not be enough simply to deliver calculations if you cannot explain the significance in a way that is meaningful to your point of contact. Similarly, the mention of user experience was noteworthy to me.  A user-friendly and easily accessible platform makes sense as the initial foundation for good engagement. I would love to learn about some of the differences between community platforms that have been catered specifically for each group and why.

Aug 09, 2021 10:47 AM

An interesting blog post that discusses the key skills needed to be a successful community manager.

Although the engagement and content skills are the most apparent, I found it fascinating that strategic and business skills can be crucial in not just connecting the community but the overall growth of a community and its future goals. Due to the nature of the work - a community manager needs to be able to adapt and work under pressure to perform multiple tasks.

How does HL help their community managers improve and develop new skills?

May 06, 2021 05:21 PM

Thank you for this blog post, Andy! Segmenting the skills that community managers apply on a daily basis was helpful to getting a better understanding of the role itself.

It's interesting to note that these skills often overlap. Having strong Engagement skills helps CMs develop content that community members will enjoy and interact with.

Additionally. Strategic and Business skills help a CMs explain the big picture in digestible snapshots that help establish credibility and trust with clients.

Also, empathy, like clear communication skills, is helpful in any professional role. As an anthropology student, one of my favorite aspects of the major was learning about why people did things the way they do. I'm excited to apply cultural analytic skills to a myriad of associations and organizations in order to understand their community members, and best meet their needs.

I am curious, however, does HL have tools and resources to determine a client's ROI? I would like to familiarize myself with this a bit more as I continue my education process.

Apr 07, 2021 11:38 AM

The emphasis on strategy, bird's eye view, and looking at things from 30k feet is so important. Keeping what a client wants and needs in mind while balancing scope issues and long term requirements is indeed an essential skill. Being able to fly in and out, going from 30k feet to ground level needs to happen as instantaneously, and seamlessly as possible. 

The writing aspect, as Eileen brought up and which is spelled out above, is so important to any job. As Andrew pointed out, previous experience is important, and if you can write and get your point that experience will certainly be of use.

Mar 10, 2021 09:35 AM

Under strategic skills, this post really highlights the need for community managers to assess each situation in relation to the bigger picture – a literal bird’s eye view – to ensure they are aligned with the community’s roadmap and long-term vision.

Solid writing skills may seem standard, but in a community management role it is crucial to be able to convey ideas clearly and efficiently. Strong communication and content skills are a driving force behind growth.

Interpersonal skills and the ability to empathize with customers and their needs is a must. Having customer service experience, I think this post really highlights how trying to understand a problem from the customer’s perspective goes such a long way to reaching a sound resolution.

What are some resources community managers can use in their own time to sharpen their technical skills?

Dec 15, 2020 04:46 PM

Breaking such a dynamic, growing position into these buckets helps us not just understand the role, but where future Community Managers may come from. My education as a journalism major most closely aligns with the engagement and content skills, but of course most majors have some interaction with all buckets. 

The Technical Skills bucket is the first example of where I see skill diversity as advantageous to either a team of Community Managers (or the team the Community Manager is a part of if there's only one). In roles where it's important to be a Jack of all trades, skill diversity is that much more important.

I think the department that Community Managers fall under can say a lot about the skill priorities of the position within that company, for better AND worse. Communicating the need for all of these skills can help Community Managers stay consistent with the mission of their role and not drift too far to the mission of their department. 

People can always bring a unique perspective to a role. In a Jack-of-all-trades position, it's important to bring an under-represented or under-appreciated perspective of the role. What's a forgotten about perspective of what Community Managers are? 

Feb 05, 2016 06:14 AM

Thanks, Andy! We thought about this a bit as we were doing the research this year - the differences between the skills of community management and the traits of community managers. Both are important and we do need to dig into the traits of great community management professionals. (And we will...)