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11 essential qualities for top-notch community managers

March 28, 2012

Community managers are a dime a dozen it seems these days.

On LinkedIn, the skills of both ‘community management’ and ‘online community management’ have each grown by 44% over the past year with them being the 63rd and 76th fastest growing skills respectively. There are currently 21,000 professionals on LinkedIn who have added ‘community management’ to their skills and another 3,000 who have added ‘online community management’.

There is a vast spectrum however spanning between very poor community management and what makes an exceptional CM. So what does it take to be a great community manager? What should you be on the lookout for if hiring a community manager? Here are 11 qualities and skills that should be in the skill set of a leading community manager.

Communications professional.
Being a good communicator is my number one thing to look for in a CM. A comms background is more important in my opinion that a marketing or IT background. A person who is able to communicate to varied audiences, who can condense a message into a 140 character tweet, and can be the voice of your brand, is an ideal candidate. Whilst a degree is not always necessary, a qualification with a strong writing and/or communications focus would be a plus.

Social media is far more about listening than talking. Someone who cares more about what others are saying than about what the brand is saying is a perfect quality in a community manager. Listeners also know their audiences inside-out, and can provide valuable insights and market intelligence. 

Passionate about your industry.
It’s important that as the voice of your brand, your community manager is passionate about what you do.  A CM needs to have a high level of knowledge – or the ability to acquire this quickly – of your industry and brand, as they will be dealing day in and day out with responding to queries and providing content of this nature. Passion is also important as this will come through in their tone of voice. This person will be your number one brand ambassador.

Social media user with a thirst for knowledge.
Your community manager needs to be a user of social media themselves. If your community uses Twitter, so should they. If it is on a forum, they should have experience with posting to forums themselves. An ideal CM will be active in a number of different social media platforms. They should also be keeping themselves up-to-date with changes to the industry and be a source of information on all things social.

Attention to detail.
Having a keen eye for detail is another string your CM should have to their bow. It ranges from excelling at spelling and grammar (remember, they are the voice of your brand!) to remembering to respond to people when they say they will. A community manager should be organised and really care about what others might call ‘the little things’.

Jack of all trades.
Community management is a combination of customer service, public relations, marketing, issues management and more. Your CM should be comfortable and adept in using social media for all of these purposes, understand the importance of each and how to appropriately balance them within their communities. They should be business savvy, and understand how their role fits into achieving organisational objectives.

Depending on your brand, your community manager may be required to work outside the usual Monday – Friday, 9-5 span of hours. In fact, most CMs work well and truly outside of these hours as they are constantly monitoring their feeds. Community managers may regularly be required to work on weekends and evenings in order to optimise content and meet the needs of the community and so they must be willing to let social media eat into their personal life. Employers should recognise this is standard practice for community managers and compensate appropriately.

An eye for corporate affairs.
We’ve all heard many a horror story about social media gone wrong, and about customers taking to companies’ social media sites as a first port of call to complain during a crisis.  An effective community manager will be able to identify, monitor, intervene and escalate issues where appropriate, before they develop into a crisis. Social media can often alert organisations to problems they did not know exist, and they can then take steps to resolve them.

Customer centric focus.
Your community manager needs to always have the customer at the heart of the matter, be willing to go the extra mile to delight the customer, and remember that engagement with customers is key. They should be thinking like your customer, not about your customer. They should be exceptional at relationship development, as community management is all about creating and nurturing long-lasting relationships with both new and existing customers.

A thick skin.
There will be occasions when your community manager may take the brunt of frustration when people use social media to vent their frustrations at your brand. Such is the nature of this role. Therefore, a good CM will have the ability to not take things personally, understand the viewpoint of the customer, remain calm, and react in a rational manner.

Your community manager should have a great personality which comes across in their communications and fits well with your brand! A successful community manager has the ability to let their personality shine through, whilst staying true to the voice of the brand. 

Do you agree? What other skills do you think are important for top-notch community managers?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Girlbug permalink
    March 28, 2012 6:11 pm

    I think you’re spot on, especially the point about jack of all trades. Being able to wear a customer service, PR, corp comms, crisis management and marketing hat is essential.

    I’ve always thought customer service experience is be a good foundation for up and coming CMs.

    Really great post 🙂

  2. April 5, 2012 9:14 am

    This is a great post! I think you’ve pointed out some of the key things which in some instances seem intangible on a resume.

    Roles like these further require a “jack of all trades’ paricularly with writing, multimedia and communication skills.

    Depending on the size of the organisation, a community manager really has o have had some management experience not just to manage staff, but to be able to communicate across and up to other managers. Remember there is a pretty good chance the CM will be indirectly reporting to senior management in times of crisis.

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