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Community Managers: Are You a Captain, Deckboss or Greenhorn?

by | Apr 12, 2012 | Industry News & Trends

Community management requires a certain kind of finesse. It takes endurance, a tireless attitude and love for what you do. While there is no right and wrong way to manage an online community, there are definitely different styles to community management. Inspired by the recent premier of season 8 of Deadliest Catch, I ask – Are you a Captain, Deckboss or Greenhorn in your online community?

A crab boat is a model of efficiency. The crew wear multiple hats and must come with a do-it-all mentality to get the job done. While the crew functions as a family (or community, to continue the parralel), there are very distinct roles on board.

If you’re a captain…you dictate what’s going to happen next. You steer a course toward a plotted goal and are in as much control as is possible given the unpredictability of the online environment. You make sure that everyone is involved and that everyone has a role in your community. You are strong willed and the last person to give up on something. Captains lead (no lurkers here) so you must be well-known for your opinions.

To be the best “captain” type in a community management role, you must be willing to relinquish the need to always be right. Community managers must understand that even if it’s “their ship,” they will be questioned on occasion. They may not always have the answer. A community manager shouldn’t be afraid to admit that, whereas a captain might have a mutiny on his hands if he declares he has no idea where the crab is.

If you’re a deckboss…you’ve been told by the captain what the goal is and how many hours you should dedicate to obtaining the end result (be it landing the catch or increasing followers). It’s up to you to carry out the action(s) and make sure things go smoothly. You must lead the crew by example but still, ultimately, answer to the captain. Your demeanor sets the tone for the crew (community) as you are one of its senior members. You are a jack of all trades and could step in to any one of the (community) roles in a pinch.

Your ability to take orders and carry out a task may be great as a deckboss but hinder you as a community manager. While it’s important to be able to work towards a goal, connections and engagement are not fostered by coldly following orders. On a crab boat, a deckboss and his attitude affects others. The same can be said in a community. Your ability to connect can make the difference between someone visiting daily and someone visiting only once. Play up your connection with the community and get them involved in the activity at hand.

If you’re a greenhorn…you haven’t been around long. You get all the tasks that no one else wants. The captain worries whether you’ll make it and the deckboss thinks everything is taking too long. You want to experiment and try new ways of getting your job done but ultimately your higher ups just want to see you produce.

You’re the novice who “got stuck” with community management but you’re also new to the job. If you can do your job with alacrity and a good attitude, maybe you can persuade the captain and the deckboss to listen to you long enough to institute change. Know that you have a lot to learn and embrace that. Use the knowledge that exists around you and employ your “youthful” enthusiasm in a positive way. After all, everyone wants the work to be successful.

Whether you’re a captain, a deckboss or a greenhorn in your community, know it’s hard work. You might run into some crabs and you most likely won’t make much money off of them. You’ll have good days and bad days; some more taxing than others but you have a group of people who are all in the same boat, struggling with the same things you are. In the end you’ll figure out what role best suits you and settle into it. Although social media and community management can be a tumultuous ride, it doesn’t hold a candle to the Bering Sea.


Community managers what role do you have now? Would you like to change that in the future?


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