Community manager is a role that more companies will adopt in the coming years. Jeremiah Owyang provide a huge list of companies who have such a champion already, and more recently gave businesses a scorecard for whether startups should have a community manager.
Here, I’ve talked about managing a community and what it takes. I’ve discussed what I want in a social media expert. I’ve even written about how we might do community management wrong. Here are some pieces of the puzzle that I think are vital to the role, and to its adoption for most businesses. Tell me what you think.
The Essential Skills of a Community Manager
The best community managers are like a good party host mixed with a fine restaurant host. I make a distinction because a party is more personal and a restaurant requires their host to think with a business mind. Community managers need both skillsets in equal space. A party host will connect people together, praise incoming guests appropriately, maintain conversations throughout the event, and see everyone safely off with a smile and a wave. A restaurant host must be certain the ambiance is just right, know that the kitchen is functioning appropriately, and help the rest of the staff pull off a flawless dining experience. The blend of the two mindsets suit a company’s community manager well.
Community managers must be experienced communicators. One thing a communicator needs to do well is LISTEN. Part of that involves building sites and community spaces such that people have a place to engage you directly, and part of that means using listening tools to understand what’s being said about you elsewhere. Upon hearing and understanding, a community manager should engage with their own authentic voice, not with a marketing message.
Community managers are ambassadors and advocates in one. This is complex, but a community manager’s first responsibility is to her employer, and yet, she must convey the voice of the people (customers and other stakeholders) such that the company fully understands the mood of the marketplace, the needs of the people, and the customer’s intentions. Further, the community manager must clearly understand the community’s position in the marketplace and communicate that in such a way that customers don’t feel they are being fed a line.
Community managers are bodyguards and protectors. Some communities find a bad apple in their midst. A solid community manager will understand the difference between a vocal critic and a curmudgeonly troll. Knowing when to remove someone politely and quickly from the party is an important matter. The rest of your guests will appreciate this. Just be sure that you know the difference.
Community managers must build actionable reports. It’s not good enough to send emails to your leadership saying, “We had 54 comments on that last blog post.” Metrics and reports appropriate to your organization are necessary to weigh the value of these efforts. Understanding the goals of your organization’s use of social media, and especially the relationship marketing expressed within having a community manager position in the first place are the key to understanding what to measure (I have several measurements I’ve communicated to companies over the last few months, each reasonably different).
Community managers cultivate internal teams for further support. As community managers are the face of the organization (or “a” face) to your online customers, being sure to promote internal champions, leaders, and other teammates becomes important. One reason is that you want your customers and stakeholders to realize the humanity within the company. Another reason is more for the company’s benefit: should the community manager leave the organization, some level of continuity might be salvaged.
I’ve given you my ideas on what I find essential to a community manager role. I’m curious how you’d apply this to your needs, and/or if you can see what I might have missed. Your thoughts are valued.
The Social Media 100 is a project by Chris Brogan dedicated to writing 100 useful blog posts in a row about the tools, techniques, and strategies behind using social media for your business, your organization, or your own personal interests. Swing by [chrisbrogan.com] for more posts in the series, and if you have topic ideas, feel free to share them, as this is a group project, and your opinion matters.
Photo credit, foxtongue
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