09 July 2010 ~ 7 Comments

Why passion is vital to be a successful Community Manager

passion for social media people community managerA Community Manager cannot be successful without passion, as the role requires a drive to be able to push through difficulties and setbacks inherent with managing interactions between humans (it’s a bit like herding cats).

When your life is being taken over by people who need you all hours of the day and night due to the elasticity of the boundaries of your public and private life, you need to have a very deep well of enthusiasm for your job to keep going.

There are all sorts of adjectives to define what passion is: Workaholic, enthusiastic, fanatic, insane, devoted, obsessed, charismatic, magnetic. Some of these have positive connotations, others bad. But they all suggest the deepest kind of interest one can have in the topic at hand.

So what’s so special about passion anyway?

Passion is important because besides making you more informed in what you do, by definition it generally makes you better at what you do too. It then sets off a chain reaction where your confidence grows, which in turn pulls people towards you. You are then exposed to more opinions, can inform yourself better and the cycle continues.Throughout this process, being passionate results in a fun feeling, rather than one of humdrum routine.

Humdrum routine will slowly grind you down until you cannot provide your community the attention it requires. Passion will help you grow your community to the point where it becomes fun and something you want to be part of all the time.

Being willing to walk the extra mile for your members.

Being capable of being a team player when one of them wants to organise an event or initiative.

Being capable of remaining organised at all times.

Approaching your community with honesty.

Being thought of as dependable and trust-worthy.

Resourcefulness.

These are all baseline characteristics for the passion you need to have.

It’s all about people

As a Community Manager, you need to have a basic passion for people, and helping them interact with each other and the positive experience your brand is promoting to them. Investigating all the shades of grey in human communication must be something you are naturally pulled towards.

If you don’t take pleasure from stepping back after an introduction or having initiated a conversation and enjoying the resulting connections between members of your community, you will struggle to manage it effectively. Being a Community Manager isn’t about being the star performer, but rather helping people connect and grow. You will only achieve this by listening rather than hogging the limelight. Light the fuse and step back to hopefully admire the fireworks.

There is another type of passion which may be necessary, depending on your community; that of the topic of your community. If you are managing people interested in fishing, it is easier to give your all if you are interested in fishing. However, if you are an agency Community Manager for example or your company asks you to launch a new community, you may have to work within topics for which you may have little passion to start with.

There’s more? Seriously?

This raises the question: “Must a Community Manager be passionate about the topic of their community to be successful, or will passion for people see them through?”

I asked a number of community managers what they thought; their thoughts both answer this question and confirm the need for passion in general:

DrPiD: I think a passion for the subject matter and the people can make a huge difference. Apathy shows from a mile off.

theroseinbloom: Yes, I think it can, combined with a genuine desire to learn.

Lily_IS75Radio: It seems to me passion for topic is a “big plus” & helps to be enthusiastic for a long time :) But a passion for people is also important.

mcquinny: A passion for people is good, but a passion for the topic will make you truly understand your audience and go the extra mile for them.

alsibley: You have to want to read about the topic at home at night and again first thing in the morning. If you don’t you’ll slowly go mad.

BFaverial: I’d go for passion for people. Passion on a subject makes you a fan, not a Community Manager :) (But it can still help!)

Reeb1981:  I live by the passion for my members, not the topics.

Being passionate about your work will always help you perform at your best. You will always strive for perfection, and get close to it through sheer enthusiasm and drive. This will reflect onto your community members, ensuring they want to follow your lead and help build a great online space to be part of.

What do you think? Must a Community Manager be passionate about the topic of their community to be successful, or will passion for people see them through? How do you develop passion for your work?

Read about how to develop passion for your community topic if you would like to learn more.

[photo by It’s Holly]

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  • http://www.imparatta.com/ FImparatta

    Excelent post!

  • http://www.spinsucks.com/ Daniel Hindin

    Interesting question, Blaise. As a community manager myself, I'm lucky enough to have a passion for the people and the topic that we cover, and I love every second of it!

    I would have to say that to thrive at the highest level, you have to have both. I'm sure you can be successful with just the people aspect of it. I'm not so sure you could do the same with just a passion for the subject matter.

    But if you have both, you will stay at the top of your game better and longer, and it will show through to the members of your community.

  • Jeffrey Thompson

    I love this discussion. I'm first and foremost passionate for my community members. The topics in our group are so varied and discussed on such high levels that it would be almost impossible to be passionate about all of them. What I am passionate about is making sure that my members get what they need. If it's expert advice, I find it for them an expert. If they need one on one support, I give it to them. If I'm not sure of the topic and need more information, I reach out to them to be sure I know exactly what it is they're talking about. So, while I may not start out passionate for the topic at hand, I'm passionate about it being important to them. By the time the conversation is over, I'm a little more versed on the topic and able to provide much more insight and help to the next member with a similar question.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mikemost mikemost

    great post, we've been discussing the very same topic over in our LinkedIn group here
    http://bit.ly/cUgHza

  • cUc

    Yo agregaría:¿Que es primero el huevo o la gallina?.¿Sentir pasión por los temas para las personas o las personas para los temas?

  • Beth Moore

    Excellent post! On passion: Community management is too much work not to have passion for what you are doing. It requires many, many (frequently unpaid) hours and in some cases you have to function as a mediator, psychologist, coach and mommy (daddy). This is what I love about it. Also, the comment about lighting the fuse, standing back and admiring the fireworks is an excellent one – it hits the nail right on the head. For a long time I saw myself as someone who had to “lead” the community and then realized that if I served more as a guide and less as a teacher, members would feel far less intimidated and more willing to participate. I use my blog to disseminate information on our topic, and Facebook to create lively discussion and relationships. It's a formula that seems to be working thus far. I love this blog…keep up the great work!

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