The Community Roundtable surveys professional community managers annually to develop their State of Community Management reports. The 2013 SOCM was released in mid-June and contains valuable insights about the community management industry and its workforce. I found the information about today's average community manager to be one of the most interesting parts.
The survey found that community managers are most often mid-career professionals with an average of eight years work experience and three in community management roles. While the role itself may be relatively new (the average age of a community manager position in the companies surveyed is five years), your average community manager is not a fresh graduate with little to no work experience. One reason for this may be the fact that there is still no established career path for community management. The report features the example of Rebecca Braglio, who uses conflict resolution techniques from her career as a public defender in her current capacity as a community manager. Ask around to different community managers and you'll find that backgrounds can be just as varied as the communities they work in: retail, academia, engineering, linguistics, etc. Just as the NonProfit world developed The Accidental Techie, it seems that a variety of worlds combined to create The Accidental Community Manager, which became a new career for many.
Speaking of techies, having technical skills has dropped in significance for those looking for hire a successful community manager. Ranked number one: Engagement and people skills. Next in importance were content development and strategic or business skills. This mirrors a thought that comes up often in community discussions: skills and programs can be taught; traits and qualities are more innate and harder to learn from scratch.
It's also refreshing to see that many companies are investing more time and resources into community management, including measuring the effect of community efforts. Many of the findings from the report are split to show a (sometimes stark) difference between companies that can quantify their communities and those who can't. And there's good news for community managers looking for jobs: companies that measure the community effects are more likely to have more than one community manager.
This is just the first of many reports that The Community Roundtable will be issuing about their survey findings, and we can't wait to see what's next.