A community manager is someone who communicates with a company’s users/customers, development team and executives and other stake holders in order to clarify and amplify the work of all parties. They probably provide customer service, highlight best use-cases of a product, make first contact in some potential business partnerships and increase the public visibility of the company they work for.
The article is focused on startups, but is worth a read by anyone at organizations large and small thinking about how they will manage communications and amplify their marketing efforts among vitally important communities, increase their engagement with these communities and take advantage of key online social networks.
Kirkpatrick asks the question of whether this is the “the new PR.” My answer is that it has to be. It’s not the only PR, certainly. But those who understand public relations in the tradition of folks like Arthur Page rather than that of, say, Scott McClellan, realize that it PR is the one communications discipline founded in the idea of an organization listening, responding, sharing and collaborating with the communities that make up its public.
I have a strong feeling that this role will grow and evolve quickly — both in corporate communications and marketing. Infusing these disciplines with the responsibility for community management should make them better informed, more insightful and more powerful advocates both for their organizations — and within their organization on behalf of the communities they serve.