FACE: 4 Traits To Look For When Hiring Your Social Media Community Manager

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:

Scrabble F tileis for Flexibility


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.

Scrabble A tileis for Attention to Detail


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.

Scrabble C tileis for Cool


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.

Scrabble E tileis for Empathy


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 companyvia 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.

The unfortunately reality of how social media budget planning goesBe sure to allocate appropriate budget, headcount, and resources for your social media team.

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!



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Traits to look for when hiring a social media community manager

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Comments And Reactions

  1. This was a great blog post! I am the community manager at Uptown Treehouse and it most definitely takes the listed traits to be good at this job. Reading this has already got my mind reeling for a new blog post. I’d love your feedback once it goes live. Happy blogging!

    Laura K.

    • Sean R. Nicholson says


      Would love to see the blog post! If you’re interested, I am also putting together a private community specifically for online community managers where we can share tips, best practices, articles, and case studies. It’s in early beta right now, but if you’d like to check it out, feel free to visit http://www.withinfluence.com and check it out.



  2. I love the way you put it in such a memorable way. FACE. I could even memorize it immediately. Excellent work.

    Also, as an employer I would like to add the mistakes in hiring that I’ve learned from the past years of experience in hiring.

    First, hiring only local people means missing out on other talented people on other parts of the world.

    Second is failing to test them before hiring them. Most of these people just look good on paper and are never able to perform their tasks well.

    Third is neglecting the possibility of working from home. This could equate to more productivity for your business.

    There are a lot more to take note of but these are the most common.

  3. Andreas Wiedow says

    What’s difference between a SoMe Community Manager and a SoMe Customer Services Manager ?

    If there’s not so much of a difference I’d like to buy an ‘S’ for Service too which would make me a winner with ‘FACES’ then.

  4. Yeah – I agree FACE is very memorable – not just specifically for a social media community manager – but for any manager ! 🙂

  5. Lovely work keep it up !!

  6. Etienne Crete says

    Very useful and I think it is really what people should look for.

  7. Mika Douglas says

    Quite helpful. Thanks for your insight.

  8. Kathleen Melady Gick (@KathleenMeladyG) says

    I enjoyed this article and thought that your point about looking within the organization was well taken. Too many times entities get suckered into trying to find a social media manager guru from the outside who knows nothing about the business.

  9. Michelle Gilstrap says

    Not all organizations can afford to have both. Many non-profits are lucky to have 1 person doing all things with social media. I think this needs to be considered.

    • Sean R. Nicholson says

      Definitely something to think about, Michelle! Budget, org size and appetite to engage are definitely considerations.



  10. Marian Gurowicz says

    FACE – Nice anagram to remember the four traits my.

  11. Steve Cassady says

    I really like the FACE structure and the points are all key.

  12. Luba Brezhev says

    Online community managers may serve a variety of roles depending on the nature and purpose of their online community, which may or may not be part of a profit motivated enterprise.
    Here are few questions that you might want to ask your potential community manager. What is:
    brand, social media, PR, loyalty program, business mission, customer relations…

  13. I’d add Clarity, being able to clearly communicate with the public, with users. It goes along with paying attention to detail so that they can really listen and communicate.

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