Australian Community Managers annual industry survey findings released

by Venessa Paech December 10, 2020

The Australian Community Managers (ACM) annual industry survey findings have been released, shedding light on who manages online communities around Australia, and how Australians are using those digital spaces.

Quiip has been a proud supporter of the survey since it first launched in 2015. It is the only benchmarking research about online community management in APAC. In 2020 it is supported by major partner Higher Logic and supporting partner Discourse.

Download your free copy of the ACM 2020 Survey here

Australia leads in online health communities
The survey is full of interesting insights. Among them, the fact that Health/Medicine, Government and Not-For-Profit remain the top sectors hosting online communities in Australia.

Research on online communities in North America and Europe suggests Australia is a world leader in online communities for therapeutic purposes. Quiip has worked with many of these outstanding communities, and it’s no surprise to us they’re also leaders in community investment.

Who are the community managers in Australia?
As always, the survey reveals interesting facts about the people behind the screens of Australian online communities.

Community management continues to be a female ruled profession – 73% in fact. This is trending upward each year. In 2015 the field was 53% female and 38% male.

Community managers are highly qualified (75% have at least a Bachelor’s Degree) and they are making more year-on-year – the average salary is between $70,000 and $100,000. Most community managers are coming from education or previous experience in communications, social sciences, marketing and journalism.

Communities need more robust strategies
Worryingly, the survey shows that only 34% of community practitioners reported that they work to a documented strategy – this is down from 2019.

Building a community or digital engagement without a strategy is a recipe for failure (it’s a leading reason communities fall over). Communities are unlikely to unlock valuable outcomes for their organisations, and community managers can get caught in the ‘engagement trap’ (Millington, 2019), chasing metrics that are ultimately hollow and don’t support meaningful goals or plans.

The survey found the top three business purposes for online communities in Australia were brand awareness, marketing and customer service or support.

The top three purposes for members were access to knowledge and skills, peer support and product or service support.

In 2020 more organisations started or used online communities for research and intelligence (from .5% to 13% year-on-year), more began using online communities to generate sales (from 1% to 13% year-on-year) and more have started to unlock the value of community to innovate and ideate (1% to 9% year-on-year).

Community is a solution that can help solve many different problems and use-cases. It’s great to see more businesses and organisations embracing this and experimenting with how communities can generate shared and new types of value.

COVID-19 was a game-changer
During the pandemic online community engagement has spiked – 33% of community professionals have seen significant increases in the use of their communities across all sectors, as Australians shifted into lockdown a social distanced normal for work and play.

But this has come with a price. In helping carry the load for others, 30% of community managers say the pandemic had a negative impact on their own health and wellbeing, as they’re asked to help more people with fewer resources, and many have been stretched to breaking point.

Use of AI keeps growing
The 2020 Survey reveals that use of machine assistance (things like automation, bots or machine learning) has doubled since 2019 in Australian online communities. 30% of community managers are now actively using automation in their work.

If you’re considering using AI, read our rundown of when to use and not use it.

Human community expertise enhanced by AI is a powerhouse combo for building and managing both digital audiences in social media, and online communities around shared purpose.

Read the full report here.

Australian Community Managers (ACM) is the centre of excellence for online community training, resources and career development. Professional members build and manage online communities across industries and contexts around Australia, including media, entertainment, government, health, finance and more. Quiip is a founding organisational member. Download the 2020 full survey and analysis, along with other handy research and resources at: