Facebook’s Communities Summit 2022, held online last week, was filled with feature announcements, case studies and community manager spotlights. If you’re unfamiliar with the Facebook Communities Summit, it’s an annual event hosted by Meta to inspire community builders, hear from Facebook leaders, and learn about new products and features to help users build, grow, and support their groups.
The first hour of the event was accessible to the public with an additional two hours of content reserved for members of Facebook’s Power Admins Group and Community Learning Labs. After spending all three hours at the event, I’m certain of one thing: This is the Year of the Community Manager.
At prior summits, Facebook has revealed features and shared best practices focused on member experience over community manager experience. This has grated on the nerves of some admin teams who felt skewing features to what members want made admin responsibilities hard on community managers. From my perspective, the pendulum is swinging more to the center this year.
Most of the groups and group leaders featured at this year’s summit either started during the pandemic in 2020 or had exponential growth during the pandemic, which highlighted both the blessing and curse of managing large, active communities.
I took some notes on a few things I learned that I think you’ll find helpful in making intentional plans for starting, managing and leading your community or community management business in 2023.
Here they are:
Leadership Drives Community Culture
Whether a community thrives or languishes comes down to management and governance, which can be a challenge for group leaders who lack training and experience related to online user behavior and group dynamics.
In 2023, Facebook will be testing new tools to support admins in managing and promoting group culture. Expect to see new ways for admins to highlight top contributing members, such as awarding points for engagement-driving actions and having those points lead to special badges. One upcoming example is the Socializer role, which will allow admins to recognize the members that are most hospitable to new members.
Smart community managers pay attention to when new features are added to their groups and think through how to leverage those features to improve the effectiveness of the communities they host. Stay open-minded when considering these new features and flexible, knowing that it’s not unusual for Facebook to cancel features that don’t perform as well as expected.
Admin Assist Gets a Human Touch
Admin Assist is a feature that debuted in 2020 with the goal of automating some aspects of group governance. You could set up rules in your group to automatically flag or reject posts with links, videos, certain words and more. For some groups, Admin Assist is like having a full-time community manager on staff. It saves that much time. But it’s not perfect and can be hard to manage, especially when there is nuance to your group policies.
Daily Digest will now give group admins a daily summary of actions taken in their group so they can see whether the feature is doing what they expect. Flagged by Facebook is my personal favorite update here. It will give admins of eligible groups to allow content that might otherwise be flagged for removal as bullying or harassment. In testing this feature, Facebook found a comment calling a fish “fatty” was flagged in a group of fish tank enthusiasts. With this new feature, admins of that group could override the automated rejection and allow the comment in their group.
Smart community managers will set up Admin Assist and other automation tools with the purpose and practice of their groups in mind. If your group is busy, flagging posts according to some criteria can make more work for you instead of less.
Content Connects Communities
A new engagement-driving content type is coming to groups. Not fully rolled out yet, Reels in groups will allow admins and members the ability to create highly customized short videos to connect with each other. Facebook is also testing the ability to share a public Facebook event for your community to your stories on Instagram, which will bring greater visibility to your community.
Smart community managers know that you can’t blast your group with push-type notification posts and expect it to thrive. Content that inspires and rewards two-way, direct communication fosters connection faster and more effectively than when admins act as gatekeepers.
Chat Links Admins to Their Members
Remember the days when you could send direct messages to group members, bypassing their group notification settings and ensuring they are aware of important community updates? Though well-loved by admins for its efficiency, this feature didn’t sit well with community members who felt spammed by over-eager group leaders who messaged all the time about all sorts of random things
Facebook has been testing a variety of options with chat tools to strike a balance between meeting the needs of group leaders and group members. Community Chats allow group leaders to create chat channels, audio channels and event chats to facilitate real-time conversations around shared interests for group members. View-only chats are being tested as a way for community managers to push out information without having to manage responses and admin-only chats give leadership teams a way to collaborate in real time.
Smart community managers know there is a fine line between caring for your group and ensuring members are aware of important information affecting them and spamming them with overly promotional messages. Think of your group interactions as a courtship and don’t go proposing marriage on the first date, or like a casting call in 90-Day Fiancé.
Self-Care is Total Care for Community Managers
Well-run communities can become deeply personal for members and their leaders, even when the group focus isn’t sensitive in nature. A panel featuring founders of communities focused on mental health and domestic violence highlighted the importance of ensuring admin teams have the training necessary to appropriately support group members and an understanding of how to care for themselves in the process.
Smart community managers know that just because social media never sleeps doesn’t mean they can’t. Have a plan in place to prevent admin burnout, support the emotional needs of your leadership team, and establish systems to support harmony between group management tasks and personal health and well-being. You might need to schedule shifts for your team so there are clear boundaries between work time and personal time.
Communities Foster Brand Loyalty and Business Results
When effectively managed, corporate communities can be gathering places to support new customers, foster brand loyalty and put decision-makers in direct contact with their ideal clients.
Marriott discovered several Facebook groups run by Bonvoy members wanting to maximize their loyalty points and recognized they should be the ones helping their members make the most of their program benefits. By creating the Marriott Bonvoy Insiders group, the hotel and resort company has created space for more than 146,000 Bonvoy members to gather to share their tips and tricks while helping the company understand what members like and dislike about the program to improve the experience for everyone involved.
Canva’s community manager shared how their design group has changed over the years and how how the members have informed product changes as well.
Smart community managers know the business case for community is increased revenue, customer/client retention and fewer customer service issues. Your role is a frontline position requiring equal parts customer service, hospitality, product development and tech support. Know your product inside and out, address member concerns directly, embrace ideas for improvement, and make sure you understand your role as community advocate when talking with company leadership. It’s your job to help organizational leaders understand the dangers of neglecting your communities. If shifting priorities or staffing changes prevent you from effectively managing your organization’s groups, you’re better off archiving them than allowing neglect to turn it into a cesspool of humans behaving badly.
Community Management is Growing as a Profession
You don’t have to spend long browsing the job listings on LinkedIn to see community management as an emerging professional focus. Companies are finally moving away from dumping community management responsibilities on the nearest or youngest staff member under “other duties as assigned” and seeking out professionals with skills and experience in online user behavior, group dynamics and people management.
Community management roles are still varied in design. They might sit in marketing, operations or product fulfillment departments. They might be highly administrative, working mostly behind the scenes, or be positioned as the “face” of the organization online. Pay is varied, too. If the role is focused in customer service, pay ranges between $40,000 to $60,000 per year. If the role focuses on strategy, growth and effective management, you’ll see salaries range from $60,000 to $100,000-plus. Though community management is an online role, many companies require employees work on-site and attend or host in-person events.
Smart community managers know how to apply their skills to a variety of products and services. Take a look at your skills and experience and position yourself accurately according to what you know your super-powers to be. Are you a growth strategist? A membership retention specialist? Can you tie thousands of dollars in revenue to your group management practices? No matter what your skills are, don’t be afraid to package and promote them accordingly. If you’d like to manage communities full-time for a brand or organization, pay attention to job listing details you know whether the role is remote or on-site and how much travel is required.
Need help with your community?
Team Kubo specializes in online community development and growth. Whether you need help with strategy, training your admin team or day-to-day management of your group, we can help. The first step is to complete our no-cost community health assessment so we can identify your needs and customize a plan to get the results you desire.