Hiring an online community manager is one of the most difficult positions for organizations to fill. Since community-based customer relationship strategies are new to many companies, there is often no template for an effective community manager's skills, experience, and personality traits.
There is so much for hiring managers to wrap their arms around when it comes to planning, launching and growing an online customer or member community that nailing down specific responsibilities is often determined after a hire is made. According to initial data from the Community Roundtable's 2014 Community Manager Salary Survey research, "22% of community professionals defined their own role before moving into it."
Matching community management requirements with the people and assets that your company or membership organization already has in place also leads many online community management job descriptions to be very specific to individual organizations and strategies.
However, there are some key characteristics that are found in the most successful online community managers. These traits are not a focus on technical skills, social networking experience, or a special expertise, as you might expect. Rather, they are broad personality traits and interests that you can easily assess via phone and in-person job interviews.
5 Characteristics of Highly Effective Online Community Managers
You know you've found a good online community manager if they:
Characteristic #1) Enjoy Working With People
This probably goes without saying, but the ability to interact with people of diverse backgrounds is a non-negotiable skill all community managers must have. Your online community manager is a direct line between your company and your customers, so make sure you choose someone that understands the value of excellent customer service and the importance of representing a brand.
Characteristic #2) Have an Entrepreneurial Spirit
There are two reasons why this is important. First, a community manager needs to be passionate about the community they serve. In that regard, it's important that whoever you hire will have the dedication to run the community like it's their own.
Second, the creative thinking skills that define an entrepreneurial spirit provide the ability to find new ways to solve problems and meet goals. This quality is important as the community landscape changes and needs to adapt to the market over time. Community managers need to be adaptable and quick to react.
Characteristic #3) Understand the Value (and Meaning!) of Data
Proper community management requires the ability to make data-driven decisions. In fact, data should fuel every move a community manager makes so each task is done with a purpose or end-goal in mind. When making a hiring decision, focus on candidates who can provide an example of how they have used data to influence business decisions in past roles.
Characteristic #4) Demonstrate Time Management Skills
Between content plans, marketing calendars, event production and strategy sessions—among other things—community managers have a lot on their plates. And when you have an entire community counting on you, deadlines are often non-negotiable!
Before making a hiring decision, make sure you feel confident in a candidate's ability to work efficiently and prioritize to their own to-do list. It might take a lot of pointed questions to get a good understanding of this skill just from conversation, but the extra time will be well worth it.
Characteristic #5) Showcase Strong Communication Skills
Online community managers are relationship builders, between both company to customer (or partner), as well as customer to customer. Therefore, the way every email, phone conversation, and event is positioned is important to get right.
Bringing people together online requires content that comes off as approachable, accessible, and personable. Pay close attention to a potential community manager's writing skills, as illustrated in their email communications, cover letter, and resumes. Try to gauge how well their genuine personality shines through. If you feel an attachment before you even pick up the phone, that's the kind of person you want for a community manager.
Hiring an Online Community Manager Takeaway
Before you qualify your company's next online community manager with questions about how they would convert more new members to regular visitors, start by uncovering these important underlying traits.
Missing any one of these characteristics can be a big red flag during the hiring process. If you are in the middle of hiring an online community manager, these guidelines can help you narrow the field and spotlight the best candidates. If you have already found your new community manager, use these five indicators to validate that you have selected a good one.