So, You Want to Hire a Community Manager

31 01 2011

You have the beginnings of your social media marketing strategy going for your business and now it is time to hire a Community Manager to run it all.  That all sounds pretty straightforward.

The problem is, most of the job postings I see for these positions say something like: “We are looking for a social media God who knows all about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, etc., etc.,”  The more advanced postings say something like; “Proven track record of delivering measureable marketing results through social media-driven campaigns.”

Being a good Community Manager is far more than having 500 Twitter followers, a deep knowledge of the latest “bright, shiny thing” in Social Media, or even a track record of running some successful campaigns.  This is a good start but not nearly enough to ensure long term success.

Your Community Manager is an extension of your company brand. This person is the human face that will interact with your customers, probably more than anybody else in your company.  Think of them as your company’s Colonel Sanders, only one that actually talks to your customers on a daily basis.

Sticking with the Colonel Sanders / fried chicken business analogy for a minute, picture what happens to your business in these scenarios:

  • Your Community Manager decides to leave for another more interesting (to them) job at another company.  It is their identity that your customers associate with your brand.
  • It becomes obvious over time that your Community Manager, while good at social media marketing, never had any real passion for the fried chicken business and doesn’t actually know much about fried chicken
  • Or, worst of all, your community manager likes your fried chicken ok, but has no empathy for your customers, their issues, or their concerns.

It’s time to stop thinking of Community Managers as social media Gods and think hard about them as extensions of your brand.  Sure, you want your Community Manager to know social media marketing, to know how to run campaigns that deliver measurable results, but there is more.  It is time to start thinking of Community Managers in terms of:

  • How long are they likely to stay in the job?  Or, with the company?
  • Do they really have a passion for your product or service?
  • Are they effective evangelists for your product or service? (Or, do they just pass product questions off to other people?)
  • Do they have a deep and genuine connection with your customers?
  • Do they provide read value to your customers in their interactions?
  • Are they going to stay around long enough to be measured on the effectiveness of the campaigns they are proposing or are they going to be off to the next cool thing?

There is always a lot of hype around any new technology and social media is no exception.  For serious business users of social media marketing and campaigns, the core values still apply.  Social Media gives us great new tools for creating genuine two-way relationships with our communities, but we still have to do the hard work of building and growing the relationships.