As a burgeoning and maturing industry, the term “community manager” or even “community” means a lot of things to a lot of people. Community professionals work at the intersection of marketing, social media management, event production, and customer support. So you can see how it can get confusing.

You might have questions like:

  • Am I a community manager or professional?
  • How do I know if I’m running a community?
  • Am I doing this right?
  • Can this be a real job that a company is actually paying me for?
  • How do I explain what I do to my family?
  • What does my career path look like?
  • Where can I meet other folks doing this?
  • How can I get education and training to do this better?
  • Should I invest in going to this conference CMX Summit?

This post may not answer all those questions for you as many are ongoing and deeply personal questions. But let’s first start with getting some terms better defined.

What is a community? A group of people organized around a mission, cause, theme, place, etc.

Communities come in all shapes and sizes, and they exist in online and offline spaces. They may or may not be tied to a business or nonprofit. Here are some examples of communities I’ve been a part of in my life: 4-H, religious, writing groups, SEO forums, Buffy: the Vampire Slayer fanfic writers, comic book club, queer student groups, neighborhood groups, political action committees, etc.

That term “a group of people” before “organized” means that well, someone has to facilitate and galvanize the people together. Are you that person? Then what you do qualifies you as a community manager.

Community professionals create content and programming that builds an engaged community, which then fuels business objectives.

You do not have to have “community” in your title to be a community manager. If you do the work professionally, then that’s you.

One community professional’s daily work can look incredibly different than another’s. However, we all work to grow a brand’s community in both quality and quantity. We engage and nurture current customers or help to connect them with each one. These community members may be external or internal to a company.

For businesses investing in community strategies, there are largely 5 types of communities businesses grow in order to drive company objectives. We call this the SPACES model.

If your community is for a business, and especially if the SPACES model clicks into place, CMX Summit will be a fruitful place for you to learn, grow, and meet other professionals who have the same types of successes, challenges, and programs.

What types of job titles do community professionals have?

Based on the SPACES model, here are some common job titles you or others may have in these types of communities. I’ve limited it to 5 titles for each type here. Certainly there are many more titles for community professionals!

Support/Success Members answer questions and solve problems for each other in order to be more successful. Director of Customer Success and Support Customer Support Engineer Live Chat Operator Moderator Community and Customer Experience Manager

Product Members share ideas and feedback in a community that will be used to drive innovation and product improvements. • Account Manager • UX Researcher • Product Planner • Community Liaison • Customer Support Triage Lead

Acquisition Members drive awareness and growth for the business as ambassadors and advocates. • Community Outreach and Development Manager • Advocacy and Marketing Manager • Volunteer Coordinator • Evangelist or Ambassador • Partnership and Sponsorship Manager

Content Members contribute to the content that makes up the product or other assets. • Community Growth Lead • Content Manager • Communications Strategist • Blog Manager • Open-source Project Manager

Engagement External or internal members have a common interest that is related to or focused on your brand or product. • Community Strategist or Manager • Event Manager • Social Media Manager • Community Engagement Manager • VP of People or HR

As mentioned, your title may not perfectly fit under these examples, but community is a vast and growing industry. We’ve recently seen companies like Airbnb and Facebook double-down on building community; it’s even more important for community professionals to invest in our education and training.

Join 600 community professionals and over 40 speakers in one venue in Los Angeles this fall to learn it all.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t go to school to become a community manager. (My degree, if you’re curious, is in creative writing and studio art.) Community management, especially for businesses, largely utilizes digital spaces and digital communication between members, even if you meet in person. Like any digital career path, colleges and universities are playing catch up.

CMX Summit is the only US-based conference open and accessible to community professionals of all stripes for your learning and networking needs.

While we’re still finalizing the agenda, which means you can expect even more awesome from 40 speakers, here are 2 sessions that are relevant to each community type, plus some career pathing sessions:


Jenn PatelModeration Is Stressful, but Burnout Is Optional with Jenn Patel
How do you stay healthy while dealing with moderation stress, especially as you scale your community? Jenn will demonstrate her 4-step plan for using stress to formulate solutions and her self-care tips. You’ll walk away armed with strategies to avoid burnout and help you be successful in your work.

Sara F. HawkinsLaws and Other 4-Letter Words Community Pros Need to Know with Sara F. Hawkins
Running a community means playing different roles. Sometimes you’re required to be a referee or judge, others an executioner or jury. Understanding the legal issues your community may face and the solutions available will give you the confidence and expertise to address these difficult matters as they arise.


Jeremiah OwyangThe Next Phase of Community Strategy: Innovation with Jeremiah Owyang
Join Jeremiah, founder of Community Manager Appreciation Day (CMAD), who will challenge your community strategy and career to uplevel to the next phase: corporate innovation. Find out how external and internal communities can crowdsource the next generation of your company’s products and services.

Suzi NelsonBuilding Successful Product Community with Facebook Groups with Suzi Nelson
Suzi will break down how to use Facebook groups to increase conversions, reduce churn, and increase customer value. You’ll learn the exact strategies she uses to build successful product communities on the most popular (and free!) social media platform in the world.


Jenna KleineBuilding Community as a Thriving Growth Engine with Jenna Kleine
Authentic relationships are the core of any healthy community, but can they drive growth? Jenna will share how to turn your community into your growth team’s secret weapon. She’ll dive into the tactics of building meaningful relationships that promote the growth and scaling of a community.

Michael and HollyUndeniable Chemistry: The Relationship between Customer Marketing and Community with Holly Elizabeth Herbert and Michael Beahm
Internal team siloing causes customers pain. Michael and Holly will share how breaking down these silos and working together with a customer-centric approach is a win for both customers and the company. They’ll explore how they optimized the relationship between community management and customer marketing, created an integrated customer experience, and measured ROI success at key points in the customer journey.


Christina ShorterBuilding a UGC Community When You’re 130 Years Old with Christina Shorter
Submitting to UGC can be intimidating for members. Christina will share what she’s learned growing a photography community under a brand very well-known for it’s photography. You’ll get tips on how to grow the size of your community, maintain engagement, and empower all users at every level to come together and collaboratively tell stories together.

Lindsey ErlickHow To Cultivate Your Best Content From Your Biggest Fans with Lindsey Erlick
Content is everything, but how you get to that content isn’t always clear. Join Pearson’s Lindsey as she walks you through the surprisingly simple, yet easy-to-overlook steps toward getting that all-important content right from your brand’s biggest advocates. She’ll share best practices on making UGC shine and grow.


Chip HeathThe Power of Moments: Creating Moments That Build Communities with Chip Heath
Certain moments unite communities and inspire them to act: lunch counter sit-ins, pride marches, and, less profoundly, code jams and even Diet Coke + Mentos. Using research from his new book, The Power of Moments, Chip will describe how we can craft our own moments that will make a community feel proud, connected, inspired, or delighted.

Arielle TannenbaumDesigning Community Experience with Arielle Tannenbaum
Meaningful experiences are at the core of strong communities. How do you ensure that your members have fulfilling experiences that give them a sense of belonging? Community building, meet experience design! Arielle will explore how to think through the intentional lens of an experience designer to mindfully foster a community of engaged and devoted members.

Building Your Career

Jennifer Sable LopezStarting Strong – How to Make an Impact in Your New Community Role in 90 Days with Jennifer Sable Lopez
You landed the perfect community role, and you’re ready to jump in and make things happen. But how do you make an impact and not fall flat? Jennifer walks you through real life strategies to help ensure you soar in your first 90 days.

Trish FontanillaLeveling Up Your Community Career with Trish Fontanilla
Sometimes we get so focused developing our communities and companies that we forget about our own professional development. Trish will show you different ways of advancing your community career. You’ll learn day-to-day tricks to managing your personal community to more involved projects like creating your own advisory board.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for CMX Summit, to give you a little direction on what sessions you’ll want to attend.

Not quite seeing what you’re looking for? We have a ton of sessions, including ones that blanket all types of community building. Take a look at our agenda to start making your plans.

Major value: making industry connections and friends.

One of the most beneficial parts of CMX Summit is meeting other community managers. We are the people with similar struggles, joys, programs, and projects. We grow and learn from each other.

This year at CMX Summit, we’re busy working on programs outside of  just the great speakers to make sure that you really get the chance to connect with one another. According to our recent Facebook group survey, 2/3rds of you identify as introverts and the other 1/3rd extroverts. Which means we’re making plans both to accommodate this (introvert zone, ftw!) and to give you an extra little connection nudge to meet new people.

Community professionals have extraordinary stories about the work we do and the people we connect and help. We want each of you to celebrate together. And of course, have a little fun too.

If you have any questions about CMX Summit, anything else we do, or you just need to connect with community professionals, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Buy your ticket!

erica mcgillivray

Erica McGillivray is the Director of Product Strategy and Community Experience at CMX Summit. She's a published author, gardening enthusiast, and loves tea, cats, and books. Erica lives in Seattle wit...

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