Having worked in online community management for the last 15 years, I have had the privilege of putting together some amazing teams. Whether the members of those teams were tasked with building and maintaining large corporate Intranets or running social media for Fortune 100 clients, they all required a few common traits to be successful in their efforts.
The roles on a digital community team varied, ranging from digital strategists, to graphic designers…and everything in-between. Two roles, however, that are critically important are the social media community manager and the social media strategist.
The actual tasks of a social media community manager is very different from a social media strategist, although the same person can often wear both hats.
A strategist will help you analyze the existing channels, evaluate the audience (or community), take a look at your current marketing plan and budget and then help you identify the best way to leverage social networks to share your message and engage your community.
Your community manager, on the other hand, will be the person who is tweeting, posting, friending, commenting, responding, and engaging with your customers, employees, and the members of your online community.
Finding the right community manager can be critical to your social media success, so here are a few traits that I recommend you consider when searching for the social media “FACE” of your organization:
Community management is not easy.
Sometimes the members of the online community are happy, sometimes they’re angry – being able to work with the members of your community to solve problems requires creativity and flexibility.
Angry customers are never easy to deal with, but a strong Community Manager can handle the task – via GIPHY
Add to that, the job of developing new content ideas and finding new ways to share valuable information and that’s a lot to ask from one person. Ask any community manager and they will likely tell you that their day working with their community rarely goes as they had planned.
Mistakes can – and will – happen.
Having a community manager that has a close eye for detail will help you avoid a lot of mistakes. Whether they’re simple mistakes like grammar or spelling, or big mistakes like sending a message from the wrong account, you’ll want to avoid them by choosing someone with a close attention to detail.
Mistakes can happen, but you want a Community Manager who recognizes the mis-step and takes action – via GIPHY
A strong Community Manager understands that checking their content twice before publishing it, or even reading it aloud, can go a long way to minimizing mistakes.
Additionally, your Community Manager should understand the right message for the right channel. A message might be right for one channel – like Facebook, but fail miserably on another channel – like Reddit. The key is to know the specific audience for each channel and their messaging preferences.
A good community manager needs to have both a cool head and a cool hand, because ‘C’ also stands for Crisis.
Every brand that leverages social media is going to have to deal with a crisis at some time, so having someone who doesn’t lash back at the community or engage in flame wars is critical. Additionally, they often have to understand how to convince social media ostriches of the value of social, an activity that can sometimes be extremely frustrating.
Your Community Manager will be the calming voice during the time of crisis – via GIPHY
Calm, cool, collected…that’s what you want from a Community Manager. When everyone else is freaking out about a tweet or a Facebook post, you want you community manager to be calm and decisive. You want someone who can analyze the issue, identify possible solutions, and then implement an action plan.
A good community is able to listen to your community, understand their wants, needs, and concerns and be able to truly understand how to help. Whether it’s help with a product problem, a message of encouragement, or a welcome to new members of your community…they should always be thinking about messaging that will lift your community up.
A strong Community Manager can bring everyone together, so they feel served by your company – via GIPHY
A community manager that doesn’t care about your community is of no use. Choose someone who is willing to listen, learn, and understand how your customers or community members feel. A little empathy goes a loooooooong way!
Sourcing The Right Community Manager
One suggestion for locating a community manager is to look within. Often, organizations have employees who already know their products and services and have a high level of interest in social media. Sometimes, this makes for a nice fit.
Alternatively, search online job postings for community manager positions and see what qualities and experience other companies in your industry are seeking
Give Them The Right Resources
One other thing to note about hiring a social media Community Manager – Be sure to give them the right resources and budget. Managing an online community is not free and it does require tools and allocated resources. An under-funded Community Manager will be stretched thin, a recipe for mistakes and public relations problems.
When looking for a strong candidate for a social media community manager role, those four traits never failed me. Finding a candidate with all four can be a challenge, but it’s worth the hard work to find the right candidate.
Have other traits that you have found valuable, I’d love to hear them in a comment!