In a nutshell:
- What you do (and don’t) need to be a Community Manager
- How to get qualified and showcase your passion and skill online
- Building your brand through social media and a personal website
- Staying up to date and in the know on industry movement and trends
For people like Mathew Anderson of KingsIsle Entertainment, being a game community manager is a dream job.
Mathew is passionate about gaming but much more of an expert in human communication than in the creation of game content. If you share a similar love for games and think you might have what it takes to be a community manager, we’ve sorted out some essentials for building up your personal brand.
Community Manager Checklist
Aspiring CMs must have:
- Passion for games and the people who play them
- Communication and people skills
- Mental fortitude: a high level of empathy, patience, and tolerance
- Professional qualifications
- A network of industry colleagues
- A personal brand
As much as managing the community of your favorite game can be a dream come true, you’ll soon find that it’s far from easy. To get through your community’s highs and lows, you’ll need a genuine passion for what your company is doing: building games.
Though you may not be directly involved in game creation, it’s a process you will come to know intimately as a community manager—and any knowledge you already have is a big plus.
An aspiring game community specialist must have the drive and open-mindedness to become a part of the gaming ecosystem and its day-to-day workings. You’ll need to know not only the brand or persona you represent but the ins and outs of how the game works. Otherwise, you’ll be of little help to anyone.
A lot of this knowledge will be picked up on the job, and that’s a process that takes time. That’s where passion and patience come in.
In this podcast episode, actor and filmmaker Jaymee Mak talks about how she went through this process and shares some invaluable insight on her role as a community manager for Hempire. On a side note, she also addresses the difference between community management and customer support—which is well worth knowing.
Communication & People Skills
As a community manager, you’ll be communicating in two different spheres—with players and your product team. And you’ll be bridging the gap between the two.
In this podcast on successful community development, Nicolas Nottin addresses the way community and product goals can seem to be constantly at odds with one another and offers some great input on resolving the issue.
When it comes to communication, it’s important to note that community managers should not only be reacting to players—answering questions, putting out fires—but also proactively conveying product information to the fanbase. This counterflow of communication is equally important and it will be your responsibility to handle.
In fact, proactive communication is one of our top tips for tempering expectations and preventing flare-ups. Besides that, you will of course be interpreting player feedback and selecting what to relay to your product team—and may appreciate these resources.
Game communities don’t have the reputation of being a field of daisies. While they can be the funnest bunch of people on the web, things can also get pretty dark.
As a community manager, you need not only a high level of patience and tolerance but the ability to appropriately interpret and compartmentalize the comments and feedback you get from your community.
For an excellent take on this, listen to Darcy Smith’s podcast episode on the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beauty that ties game communities together.
Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room: Do I Need a Bachelor’s Degree?
Some say yes, absolutely. Others say no, not at all.
A degree tells the company you want to work for that you’ve had some preparation for the professional world. But it’s not the only way to do so.
With countless ways for people to build up and show off their skills online, it’s just a matter of knowing what you want to achieve, getting out there, and doing it.
How can you show your professional qualifications without a formal degree? For one, you can take a rich variety of online courses on some of the following platforms:
LinkedIn Learning. Buy courses led by instructors with real-world experience, or subscribe for access to all courses (with a one-month free trial).
Udemy. Buy courses created by experts in any field imaginable, including social media management and community building. Courses are purchased individually and the platform regularly offers big discounts.
Hootsuite Academy. Take online classes on advancing social media skills. Includes free and paid courses, as well as academy certifications.
Buffer Marking Library. Access a nice little collection of free social media and marketing courses.
Sprout Social. Follow free on-demand social media webinars featuring a variety of guests and topics.
And the list goes on. There are dozens of platforms where you can learn and become certified online.
One more great way to prove yourself as qualified is by speaking at events. While it does indeed help if you already have a footing in the field, some events will accept applications for pitches and talks from beginner presenters.
As long as your plan for the presentation well structured and offers something of value, you can be accepted. This in itself is a choice opportunity to gain renown.
In the world of gaming, a network of industry colleagues—whether producers, programmers, designers, or artists—is an absolute must. Especially in this day and age. A professional network gives you access to information, opportunities, and larger social circles.
When you expand your personal reach, your brand expands too. Eventually, this same network will help the company or game you work for expand theirs as well. In short, your network is a big part of what makes you an attractive hire.
One of the best ways to build a professional network is by attending events. A wide array of trade shows and conferences are hosted around the globe that offer excellent opportunities to meet people. So look up what’s happening in your area and get out there!
Make sure you’re paying close attention to the talks and presentations that are given and, in line with our earlier suggestions, see if you can’t put together one of your own.
Building Your Personal Brand
Last but not least, you need a solid online brand. But with so many options and avenues, where does one start?
Begin with the basics: your social media presence and personal landing page.
It goes without saying that this is a must-have. So let’s briefly address how to ideally present yourself on social media’s big four.
Facebook. You don’t have to treat your Facebook page as a professional portfolio but you absolutely must bear in mind that it’s one of the first places people will go online to get a picture of who you are. As a rule, public content (including profile and cover photos) should offer a clean reflection of yourself and your passions.
Instagram. This beautifully simple photo- and video-sharing platform is the perfect place to visually showcase your passion without all the bells and whistles of the more cluttered social media sites.
LinkedIn. Come to LinkedIn for network building and use the platform to share your professional movements. Think pictures of you going to events or giving presentations—things that show you being proactive.
Twitter. To get in on the conversation, Twitter is the place to be. While it may seem like an overwhelming and almost deafening sea of noise, a carefully honed and cared-for presence can go a long way. It allows users to connect with brands and individuals in a more conversational, one-on-one basis. Here’s an ultimate guide, and this is a way to understand how Twitter’s algorithm works.
Beyond that, refer back to the online learning platforms listed above and do your own searches for endless tools on the subject.
With these tools and resources, you can learn how each platform works, what their algorithms are like, and what best compliments your posts. Additionally, you can develop your creative edge by playing around with new photo and video apps, finding your color palette, and developing a consistent theme to use across everything you do.
Having your own landing page is an essential way to showcase your skills in building an online presence, as well as a great opportunity to introduce who you are on your own playing field.
Even if you’re starting from scratch, you can find a way to make your website—and yourself—look impressive enough to land that first community manager job.
Pro Tip: Simplicity wins. A visitor to your website should be able to see who you are and what you do in the first 3-5 seconds.
Here are a couple of platforms we can recommend:
Wix. This is a personal favorite on our team. It’s dynamic, stylish, and easy to set up. They have free templates for various types of personal websites and portfolios and the user experience is swell.
Squarespace. If you want simplicity, this might be just the place for you—though it is limited in terms of built-in design options. However, if you’re CSS-savvy, it’s a great platform.
The options don’t end there. Take a look around and have a play until you find the one that suits your groove.
Blogging, Vlogging, and Live Streaming
While having a good social media presence and personal landing page covers the basics, your next step is to start publishing relevant and value-adding content. Your main options for this are through writing or being on camera—depending on where your skills lie.
If you have a knack for expressing yourself in written form, you should start using it to share your knowledge and passion through articles and blogs.
Guest writing. This is where your network comes in handy. Ask another blogger in your field if you can write an article for their site, or invite them to publish on yours.
Articles on Medium. Medium is a great platform for publishing articles or sharing your story. Besides interacting with other content on the site, anyone can publish their own “stories”. Here’s a simple guide to using Medium.
For the Camera-Friendly:
If you’re more of a speaker and have the talent to be on camera and it’s something you might want to do on behalf of a game one day, setting up your own YouTube channel can be an excellent way to step in that direction.
YouTube. Starting your own YouTube channel may be a could way to boost your image as a community manager. However, don’t start a channel just to promote a certain game you want to work for. Be authentic and, once again, simply showcase your passion and talent.
Twitch and Mixer. Live streaming is a great alternative to having a video channel, and it’s a bit more relaxed as well. It shows you’re not only willing and able but enthusiastic about getting out in front of an audience—which is what you’re ultimately going to have to do.
Pro Tip: Having a YouTube channel linked to your live streaming account is a great way to pick, edit, and store hot clips from your streams and share them with a wider audience.
If you have the internal qualifications to be a community manager—most importantly, the passion and the patience—you can build up the rest.
Get busy elevating your social media presence, design that personal website, and start getting content out. Whether it’s on Wordpress or Instagram, Twitch or YouTube, show the world and your future employers who you are and why you have such great community management potential.
Originally written for the GCM: Game Community Management Hub and posted on 14 August 2019.