Why I Quit Community Management

Community Manager Appreciation Day feels weird this year because I'm no longer a community manager--or at least it is no longer my primary, full-time role. Even though 2010 was apparently the year of the community manager, to me it feels like this year is the year that community management has gone mainstream. I admit, it feels a little sad/weird to see all the recognition of community manager appreciation day this year and feel like I'm no longer really part of that world, especially when I was so immersed in it for what felt like forever but was, in actuality, four years.

So why did I quit the hottest job on the planet? To be honest, I was just tired. Tired of being a lone wolf, the one person in charge of all things community and social media for a large professional association whose members were very active online. Tired of fighting the good fight trying to get internal buy-in. Tired of feeling I was never really not working, even when I was on vacation, because that's just my personality and as long people were interacting with the org via the various channels, I felt I had to be responding. Tired of being a quasi-customer service representative, a career I never would have chosen to go into, as I loathe conflict. And as I worked harder and harder and juggled more and more balls, I couldn't help but wonder "is this a good idea, career-wise?"

After all, in a perfect world and the utopian social organization that supposedly is the destiny of all businesses these days, isn't community management kind of everyone's job? In a world where all employees are ideally empowered to interact with customers online and represent the business via their social media profiles, is specializing in community management career suicide? Maybe not, but as a person with a broad communications background and a love of writing, the further I moved away from those skills and the more concentrated on community management and social media my resume became, I found myself having second thoughts. Not like it was any mystery--I've been blogging about the downsides of community management for a while.

So do I regret leaving the rockstar life of community management? Sometimes, a little. I miss helping people and being the go-to person who people felt they could count on. I miss the feeling of satisfaction that comes from watching something you know could be great come to fruition. As much as the stress was affecting my health, I admit I sort of miss the adrenaline rush of the 24/7 job, even if that 24/7 was more of my own making than an actual requirement of the job.

But life goes on and the community I managed goes on and I admit I'm enjoying having a work life and a home life that are distinctly separate from one another. Yes, it took a while to get used to not even having access to my work email on my phone, and not having multiple Twitter accounts and Facebook pages to check. My rabid focus on all things social media and/or community management has faded some, and I've toyed with changing the focus of this blog. I've loved going back to using Pinterest purely for fun, and going back to journaling more and blogging less.

But never say never, right? So to those of you who managing online communities, happy community manager appreciation day!