Why Community Management?

Online community managers are growing in popularity like wild fire.  They’re the face of the brand for thousands if not millions of people depending on the brand.  So why would you want to become a community manager and who would be the best personality to fit the position?

A community manager is a position like no other, but with similar job descriptions of many.  Similar positions are often labeled Social Media Manager, Social Media Strategist, User Engagement Director, or Community Creator.  Although different, they may have many subtle similarities usually dependent on which way a company wants to grow with their social media ventures.

Community Manager Job Description

Let’s take a look at some generic community manager job descriptions and get a feel for what companies are seeking and/or requiring as experience.

Mashable, one of the largest social media news sites on the internet, is hiring a Community Assistant.  Here is what the position entails:

“Working closely with the community manager, the community assistant will be responsible for monitoring and engaging with Mashables community on the site and off, identifying emerging social tools, running contests and promoting Mashable content and events.”

Another company named “The Institutes” in Pennsylvania is hiring a Social Media and Community Manager (Many companies will combine the two):

“Coordinate cross-departmental content creation for online communities, Continuously monitor the insurance and professional development landscape for changing trends (technologies, use cases, policy, etc) around the business application of communities and social media,  Project management of social media and community tactics”

Here’s the obvious difference between Mashable’s job posting and The Institutes, one is focused on community engagement while one is based on content creation and project management.

A community manager’s job description should be mainly focused on engagement.  Engagement is what will differentiate your brand from another.

Let’s say Joe’s Jewelry interacts with their customers on Facebook by having them upload their own pictures of their jewelry being worn.  Then let’s look at John’s Jewelry, he has a Facebook page but only updates special deals on jewelry.  Customers are more likely to not only look at Joe’s Facebook page but are more likely to partake in engagement with the brand by uploading their own photos.  What more could you ask from your customers?  They’re taking time out of their day to showcase YOUR product online.  Win-win.

Usual Responsibilities

The responsibilities for a community manager can be daunting, but it’s surprising how personal it needs to be to succeed.  As a community manager you are first in charge of the brand online then in charge of engagement.  The best practice for an OCM is to visualize all of the participants as personal friends.  When you need information on a product what do you post on Facebook or Twitter?  Is it something like “I was thinking of going to this movie, what opinions does everyone have on it?”  An OCM should have the same mentality.

Never should you have a customer service tone.  No one wants to engage with someone who sounds like a telemarketer.  They want a friend.  Here’s an example…

Joe’s Jewelry needs information on future product demands. He’s got pearls and rubies to choose from but can only purchase one line of jewelry.  Here’s two ways to post and try to grade them as if you were following them.

1. We want to hear from you guys, Rubies or Pearls?

2. I’m really enjoying these new Rubies over the Pearls, what do you guys think?

They sound incredibly similar but here’s the subtle difference.  In question 1 you are asking a closed ended question.  The amount of feedback you receive will be very generic and lacking of customer requests. A lot of the time people become like sheep.  If one person answers then other people feel more comfortable giving their opinion.  If no one initially answers then where do you go?

In question 2 you start of saying “I’M” which immediately makes it much more personal.  There are in certain cases that “WE” is a much better choice, one of which you are in B2B sales and want the company to be represented rather than one single opinion.  By giving an opinion first, you are giving your customers a choice to agree or disagree, much easier than forming their own.

Engagement in an efficient manner is just one responsibility, let’s look at the other major ones.  An important function of a community manager is to keep up with rising social media technologies.  The reason for this is because you are either A) the social media manager as well or B) in collaboration with the social media manager.  If a website with a perfect fit for your brand gains popularity, you should jump at the chance to engage.  Engagement is always first priority, but finding a platform to perform is a necessity.

A quick example is some companies will focus their engagement on Flickr and Twitter solely, while others find it’s easier to engage on Facebook because they need more thought out opinions.

Lastly, a community manager needs to be able to monitor and react professionally and more importantly in a way that won’t distract from the brand message.  Eventually a disgruntled customer will poke it’s ugly head into the community and try to destroy everything you’ve worked so hard on.  Knowing how to react with these people is essential.  One bad apple can really turn away a lot of potential customers.

Community Manager Personalities

Personality is very important for a community manager.  You want your brand’s personality to shine through the community, so your manager has to be a matching fit.  The best community managers are jack of all trades with an interest in all topics and adaptable to multiple brands.  I find interest in almost any topic thrown my way, but there are times that I just wouldn’t be able to fit the mold of a brand’s product and personality.  I personally couldn’t find a genuine interest in history, so being the community manager for a historical museum wouldn’t work for me. (I’m terrible with history and dates, I still find it interesting)

A personality is much more important than experience and knowledge.  Personality is much harder to learn/change.

How to Become an OCM

A community manager is horribly important and it’s immediately noticeable the difference between an experienced and in-experienced one.  If you’re looking to get into community management I suggest you find a local business that’s wanting to get into the social media scene and see if you can internship or volunteer your time towards their cause.  Smaller scale experience will help you learn quickly and will help you try out different techniques to engage customers.

Also, if you are already not involved in social media itself you should really find your online identity.  It will take quite a while to form a following but the tools are out there to speed up this process.

Being an OCM is not easy but it’s incredibly rewarding to see an entire community build around you and the brand you’re working for.  The future for community managers is bright but you also must be willing to be flexible.  The job descriptions for OCM’s and social media managers change everyday, and you have to be on top of the ball at all times.

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