I’m the Community Manager now…

A global pandemic.

I have to admit, I didn’t see that one coming. I love zombie movies as much as anyone…probably more than most. But I never thought I’d be living through something like this…

Now I know we’ve not reached The Walking Dead scenario, but I’m wondering how many weeks of Stay-At-Home orders it will take before my daughter comes downstairs with face paint and attempts a coup on the food ration stock rations.

Community Managers are an odd mix of optimistic and pessimistic. Our jobs allow us a day-by-day (sometimes minute-by-minute) window into the unique mix of human experience: random acts of kindness intertwined with mob mentality.

We also approach our work in “Crisis Expectant” mode. We know that no matter how well we design and execute a project, crisis in inevitable. The human world is always in flux, and as such the goal isn’t to avoid crisis as much as it’s to be prepared to respond to it.

Which is why I believe Community Managers have and will continue to have a unique and important role in the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We bring a unique and important set of skills to the instant and massive shift in everything from:

  • Logistics: lifting up entire offices and moving them to individual homes
  • Communications: Teaching new technologies and running effective group/team meetings on new or previously under-utilized platforms like Zoom and WebEx
  • Culture: Strengthening the bonds between teammates when so many of the traditional in-office tools of culture building have disappeared overnight
  • Empathy: Understanding how to support the difficulties of this new world of Zoom challenge and dog barks and different team member perspectives

This is a time for the role of Community Managers and the entire concept of community to be seen as the critical part of business strategy that we all know it is. We’ve been doing so many of these (suddenly newly) critical skills for years, but many of our colleagues are just now catching up in part or in total.

We have an opportunity, even (especially?) in the midst of these difficult times, to showcase the principles of community that we’ve been preaching for so long. And showcasing these principles can have a significant impact in how the world navigates this pandemic. Will we all struggle through this just long enough to “get through it”? Or will help make this time easier and more enjoyable… while promote new ways of engaging, supporting, and working with each other for the better using community management principles and tactics for the long term?

As Herb Brooks (played by the amazing Kurt Russell) says in “Miracle”:

This is your time.  
Now go out there and take it.

Today I’m proud to announce the launch of a limited run comic series, Confessions of an Online Community Manager


Confessions of an Online Community Manager is the community management web comic that chronicles the adventures of community managers seeking sanity in the midst of a global pandemic.

I’ve been working together with the comic genius, Greg Hyland on and off for 17 years and I’m excited to release this latest effort. Stay tuned the next couple weeks as we release new strips regularly.

Let me know what you think! Drop me an email or even better… promote this page all over the social media!