Social media is here to stay, and most organisations have at minimum a Facebook Page and Twitter account. Most are also wondering what to do with them and how to resource them. And so the role of the social media community manager was born.

Here are the top 10 traits you should look for when recruiting one:

  1. Good community managers will somehow know and understand which messages work best on which channel and when. For example: photos, videos and polls might work best on Facebook, but short text only messages with a link might be better for Twitter.  3:30pm might be perfect for the teenagers on Facebook, but midday might be better for the mums on Twitter. Understanding product strategy, marketing, comms and UX are all important too.
  2. Community managers will be passionate about your brand and your industry. To hunt down interesting, useful and relevant content from other sources requires time and dedication. They’ll need to be across the shifting sands of the technology and digital landscapes which can change in a heartbeat. Google Search Plus Your World – what does it mean? Pinterest – should you be there? HTML5, QR Codes, Icecream sandwich, Siri, RIM, SXSW, Kindle …. the list is never ending.
  3. Community managers will have thick skins and broad shoulders. They’ll have to endure shouting (CAPS LOCK SINNERS), swearing, competitors and media sniffing around, tire kickers, time wasters, lazyweb people (this website might be helpful, social media gurus who want to improve their Klout scores and people who quite clearly do not speak the same language as you.
  4. Community managers need to be writers. They have to be able to distill complex concepts down into simple understandable language. And then they need to cram that into 140 characters with a link and a hashtag thank you very much. They need to be able to reword something in 5 different ways so it still makes sense, doesn’t commit an apostrophe crime, gets the attention of the reader, retains the same tense throughout and doesn’t incur a lawsuit. Harder than it sounds!
  5. Amazing customer service is what makes good community managers stand out from the average ones. Taking ownership of issues and following up on behalf of the customer, providing constant updates (even when there are none), battling with interdepartment walls and being the customer advocate should all be second nature.
  6. Having an analytical mind to trawl through the statistics of reach, virality and sentiment – overlaid onto channel, day of the week, time of the day and incorporating other campaigns running simultaneously is like doing a Rubix cube blindfolded. And yet somehow it makes sense to them, and they can hone in on anomalies and dig deeper to understand what worked and what didn’t in that particular instance.
  7. Understanding measurement and how this aligns to your business strategy and objectives is crucial. If you are measuring the wrong things then all that effort is wasted. Similarly if you are spending a lot of time on content that isn’t consistent with your overall strategy then no-one will thank you at performance review time.
  8. Secretly wanting to be a spy also helps. Community managers need to be able to piece together information from several sources and have a memory like an elephant to be able to know how to best respond to a customer. This includes knowing what their recent interactions with the company have been both on social and through other channels, what their real name is, who they may be related to or be the BF/GF of, and even whether they are on holiday, travelling for work or just at home with the kids. It’s exactly like CSI but without the computers.
  9. Most community managers will be constantly connected through their own personal accounts. The only way you will know how social media works is by using it yourself – you can’t learn by reading a book or… errr… a blog.
  10. Being super efficient and productive are a must. Many people sigh and complain about what a time sink social media is (answer: just turn it off), so if you are using it as part of your job every day you must have the discipline to step away from RSS feed so you can complete some of your to do list. And for any addict that is a lot easier than it sounds!

And above all community managers need to have the patience of a saint, be able to be humble and yet empathetic, require virtually no sleep, be funny yet not smart arse, be tireless but not tired and have a strong sense of right and wrong.


Join the conversation! 7 Comments

  1. Nice summary of what makes a good Community Manager. I love the ‘spy’ point as well – I went for a job interview at a recruitment company a few years back. During the conversation the lady taking the interview admitted that she had tried to look me up on Facebook and had found that my account was quite professional (despite Facebook’s rules, I have two accounts; one professional account that is very open security-wise and used for admin access to business pages, and one personal account for close friends and family that is completely locked down).

    I then admitted that I’d looked her up as well and complimented her on her customer service award at her previous job. I didn’t mention that her Facebook account had no privacy settings at all and, with the photos she posted, really needed to!

    But yeah, all great points. Love that you give content writing a nod as well. Plus the fact that community managers should be well connected and be keen to experience a wide range of social media channels at a personal level to figure out their best use. There’s no way that someone can judge whether or not a business should be using a channel and the best way to use it unless they’ve had at least some experience of it themselves.

  2. I love what you’ve said, and it all makes sense, but how does one learn to be a social media community manager? Are there any courses one can take to learn the more complex art of being a good social media manager?

    • Hi Debra, thanks so much for reading my blog and for your question. I would suspect that any course on community management would be out of date before the prospectus was published due to the rapidly changing nature of social media and technology. My best advice would to to develop your own personal community and use that to learn the ropes. Doesn’t need to be a professional brand – for example you might start a blog on a favourite hobby or interest you have. Hunt down content on the web that relates to this and share it. Start building a network of people interested in the same topic and before you know it you are doing community management! It is the best way of learning. Good luck!

  3. P.S. One thing that could be number 11 is a working knowledge of SEO. Not as central for those deeply involved with social media (and with others in the business working with SEO) but definitely helps. Also important when gauging the effect of blog posts and other content written by others about your business.

  4. Really nice post Simone. One of the better ones I’ve read about what is required in ages. Quite comforting in a funny way.

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Community Management, Social Media