Tasks of a community manager

Seminar Paper 2005 10 Pages

Computer Science - Commercial Information Technology



1. Introductionary words about Virtual Communities

2. Declaration of the research question

3. Classification of Virtual Communities
3.1 Definition of a Virtual Community
3.2 Work Areas in Virtual Communities
3.3 Human Ressources infrastructure of a Virtual Community

4. Needs of Virtual Communities
4.1 Financial Needs
4.2 Technological Needs
4.3 Social Needs

5. Areas of Community Managing
5.1 Knowledge Management
5.2 Community Building
5.3 Supervision of Employees
5.4 Financial Oversight

6. Communication in Virtual Communities

7. Conclusions

8. Bibliography

1. Introductionary words about Virtual Communities

The Internet has evolved in the last 15 years in such a speed and in such a mass that the world has changed dramatically. If in the year 1985 a normal West German student would have wanted to learn about new developments in the world he had watched news in the television or had read a newspaper. But if he wanted more specific information about something then there were no means left. Today at every minute of the day in every city of the world {with Iridium Satelite Phone coverage, it is possible to get an Internet connection at every point of the world} [www.iridium.com , accessed on the 18th of May 2005] every human being can receive every information she or he desires. We are in the information society!

That information we require can come from different sources. It can be trusted news service like CNN [www.cnn.com], a well known encyclopedia e.g. the Encyclopedia Encarta [www.encarta.com] or a rather informal source e.g. a virtual community like Well [www.well.com]...

Wait a moment! You might ask yourself why after the most famous news network and the largest encyclopedia in the world I have mentioned a virtual community… The answer is clear Æ the internet has evolved so much that today it is possible to get almost every answer you want from almost every specialist you want for free! [Concept from: Rheingold 1993, chapter 1]

What does it mean? It means that millions and millions of internet users are exchanging their thoughts and combining their knowledge for an exchange of information

2. Declaration of my research question

As the subject of my paper is the “tasks of a community manager” I have thought which aspects of the work of a community manager would be an interesting subject for this study. Traditionally a management position is a position which requires academic knowledge; trust from the subordinates and a responsibility for the company and its employees. In the case of a virtual community manager, those three aspects are still the same. Since trust in virtual communities is part of another paper and erudite knowledge in the area of community managing is a very well spread area, the aim of the following 6 pages will be to answer my question:

“ What are the responsibilities a Community Manager has to take care of? ”

3. Classification of virtual communities

In the last 15 years since the first VC (WELL - Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link, a huge community of people around the world discussing topics 24/7 [concept from Rheingold 1993, chapter 1] many communities have been created and many have been diminished for many reasons be it loss of interest or loss of financial capabilities. Evolutions in the WWW lead to more distinctness in the communities. Several categories have evolved by that process and so a VC has to be classified in order for a scientific glance on it.

3.1 Definition of a virtual community

A “Virtual Community”, a term invented by Howard Rheingold in his book “The Virtual Community” 1993, is a group of people who are connected online to each other by one equal interest. As there are several different kinds of virtual communities the ties may be more or less closer.

Derek M. Powazek the author of “Design for Community knows three kinds of virtual communities:

- Communities of support
- Communities of shared stories
- Communities of commerce

Communities of support are communities in which common people share their experiences with their own diseases or those of their close ones.

Communities of shared stories are used to tell personal stories and to receive feedback from other human beings to one self’s problems and events in life.

Communities of commerce center the idea of a company to promote their products or their brand name by inviting users to share their experiences with those products or brands online. [Powazek 2001, 136-142]

3.2 Work areas in virtual communities

There are four work areas in virtual communities:

- Moderating
- Technical Supervision
- Designing
- Financing

Usually VCs have some kind of communicating platform. This could be either a moderated chat {a platform to write live messages to each other, while the whole communication is monitored by a moderator for profanities}, an unmediated chat {same like a moderated chat with the exception that the conversations are not controlled}, or a bulletin board {a platform in which users can write about certain topics, other users can see those messages and respond to them}.

3.3 Human Resources infrastructure of a virtual community

A VC’s human resources infrastructure has the form of a pyramid. In the lowest level there are the normal members. They are the ones on which the community consists on. Over the normal members are the enthusiastic members, who are very much in touch with community. Above them are the honorary employees of a VC. They moderate, design or program for the community for free. On top of them are paid employees of a community, note that paid employees are rather rare in the Internet. Th reason for that is that only few VCs have the funding to pay employees on a constant basis. They are professionals who lead teams of honorary employees or are responsible for the technical side of a VC, for details read 4.2. Above all personel is the community manager. He is responsible for all employees, for financial oversight and for the policies of the VC. [Kim 2001, 175]

4. Needs of virtual communities

Every VC has its own prerequisite for a successful ongoing activity of its own. First there come the monetary requirements without which the community could not be sustained online. After that technological needs come about on whose the community platform is based on. Last there are the social elements of a VC without there would be no community.

4.1 Financial Needs

There are several expense factors which play a roll for virtual communities. The first of those is computer hardware & software that is crucial for running an online community. Second is the web space which is needed to upload data on the internet for the website to be viewable for the end user. Following is the traffic, the amount of data send between the server and the users. As there are different types of virtual communities, wages for the personal who are working for the virtual community can be a potential factor as well. [Concept of Powazek 2001, 226-227]

In most cases of virtual communities the Server and the applications for the use of the communities is outsourced to a company specialized on hosting Internet Pages and its content. Only big companies (e.g. BMW www.bmw.de) who have their own IT department and servers usually use their own computer resources for accommodating the corporate online community or in BMW’s case its Intranet (the in-house only internet with Webpages designed and kept updated by and for BMW employees).

4.1.1 Advertisements

Advertisements are the most common way of financement. Money flows into the VC by banners, rectangles on the page in which is an advertisement of a company, and by clicking on it you are forwarded to the company’s web site.

4.1.2 Merchandising

Larger communities with many members can get funding by merchandising products with the logo or other motifs of the VC. Typical products are mugs or t-shirts.

4.1.3. Donations

Users of a community who like it and want to support it can contribute to the VC by making a donation. There are several VCs who combine donations with a “premium” account in the VC, e.g. www.telefon-treff.de. Such premium members usually do not have to see any advertisements or have no storage limits in the on site private message account (Found out by own experiences and research)



ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Institution / College
Technical University of Munich – Institute of Computer Science
Tasks Proseminar Virtuelle Communities




Title: Tasks of a community manager