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What to look for when hiring a social media community manager

Photo courtesy of kikemb via Flickr

Community Managers are a company’s direct link to its customers, owning the responsibility to grow, shape and respond to online conversations happening around that brand. Their goal is not to drive conversation but to build an environment where conversations happen naturally. So what do you look for when hiring a community manager?

Good communicator

It goes without saying that community managers should be good communicators. They should be able to effectively communicate to help your community and enable them to connect with each other. Companies and their community managers are faced with real-time communication and its associated challenges. They also must know how to write and edit – “you’ll be driving content, as well as building relationships, so those skills are essential,” Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich and author of Spin Suckssaid. A background in journalism or experience with writing helps since they’ll be creating so much content for your company.

Having experience with public relations is nice to have too, especially if it’s a focus for your business. Andree Beckham, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Cision, adds “I think the same basic skills for a PR person – strong communicator, content creation, knows the industry, media and audience – also apply to a community manager.”

Passion

Community managers should be passionate about the topic and social media. Understanding the product will help them better understand the customer’s pain points. Vanessa Bugasch, SVP of Product Marketing and Global Marketing at Cision, adds “I think it’s essential they have a passion for social media and have a good understanding of the business they are representing.”

Beckham looks for a passionate person that can mix personality with industry knowledge. “At the end of the day they need to promote their brand, position their products and services, and resolve customer issues,” she adds.

Empathy and thick skin

Not everyone will like your company, so community managers have to understand the difference between a vocal critic and a cantankerous troll. “This isn’t the job for someone that can’t take criticism and respond to it without taking it personally,” said Bugasch. There will be complaints and people that just don’t like your company. Community managers have to respond to both the good and bad.

“A community manager needs to know how to say no in a way that doesn’t offend others,” says Dietrich.

Bugasch added, “It’s a highly visible and important job. You have to be willing to accept that when you make mistakes, you make them publicly on behalf of your company and they will happen.  You need to learn from them and keep growing!”

Personality

A community manager should be personable, honest and authentic. They are the face of a brand and you want your customers and stakeholders to realize the humanity within the company. Dietrich thinks introverts are best suited for this position, as long as they have social skills. She says “It gives them the ability to have relationships with people without having to break the ice in person or have to stand in big groups waiting to be noticed. A good community manager is well-liked and is passionate about stroking other’s egos.”

Beckham said she looks for community managers with “humor and wit. Someone that enjoys connecting with people.”

The type of personality to look for will vary by company. Whatever your choice is, you want the community manager to fit in with your employees, but also resonate with your community.

Social presence and Flexibility

Experience with social media tools isn’t a must, but it is helpful, so look for someone who understands Twitter and Facebook for business. Community managers wear many hats, so they should be flexible not only in their role, but also with their time. This isn’t always a 9 to 5 job. They need to be able to roll with the punches and adjust their schedule based on what’s going on for the day. There may be a crisis on Saturday so you need your community manger to be on top of it without complaining.

“One of the things we look for in community managers is the curiosity to want to be online 24/7 so they don’t feel like they’re missing something,” Dietrich said.

I think Outspoken Media sums it up pretty well, “While being a community manager may seem like the best job in the world, it also comes with a tougher side that can often feel thankless and troll-filled.  Through it all, community managers must show up to the job with an enthusiastic smile, regardless of how many people they want to punch in the face.”

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