So, you want to hire a community manager? There are certainly a lot of candidates available to you. It can seem like a sexy title if you've never held the position. Who doesn't want to play on the Internet all day?
Next to game designer, it's one of those hot careers that a large number of people see as mainly enjoyable versus a grind. But if you're trying to create serious online engagement with your community members, you don't want to hire a lightweight. And to avoid people who love the title, but don't understand the role, you need to lure the right candidates to your company. A detailed job description can help. Start with the basics—good organizational skills, good communicator, friendly, and possesses social media proof. Maybe you throw in 'enjoys tech or social media,' but after that, what's left? What do you need beyond the basics? What questions should you be asking?
If you're hiring a community manager for the first time, asking the right questions and writing the right job description are essential to attracting the right people. Don't just go with the basics, instead give some serious thought to optimizing the selection process based on a successful community manager's strengths and personality.
Here are some important, less obvious, characteristics you want in a community manager that you can use to guide your job description and candidate selection process.
Even if you've never had an issue with unprofessional conduct among your customers or members, it can happen. While no one wants a crisis in their online community, feelings sometimes get hurt, comments can snowball, and your community manager needs to deal with the crisis. To handle these situations effectively you need someone who is skilled in PR or understands group dynamics and social media management.
When a problem does arise, your community manager needs to remain calm and take action. For example, a local chapter of a hobby and lifestyle association avoided a firestorm when one member accused another (on the association's discussion forums) of becoming a little too friendly with her husband at an event. Quick action by the community manager kept this from escalating into a much larger problem and potential basis for a slander lawsuit.
Community management is not a nine-to-five job. It borders on lifestyle preference; you are either a person who is always 'on' or you're not. Look for someone who doesn't see being 'on' as work. A 'digital citizen' who considers social media a hobby or something they really enjoy will be a good fit.
While you can't expect someone to be 'on' 24 hours a day, someone who will check out at five and be unreachable is not ideal. If your community manager sees being online as part of their life and not work, your online community will be better off.
Your community manager should be someone who can start conversations with ease and excite members. Look for someone who understands what content gets shares and what types of questions get responses. Ask for examples of how they've done this professionally or personally and then look at their social proof. Are they engaging or merely posting? Are they using social media as a bridge to build connections or as a bullhorn for their own agenda?
If everything they do online is locked down and kept private, they are either not an engager or they are severely concerned about discretion. The latter may keep them from opening up with your members. Failure to share personal opinions and interests will limit interactions.
While it's not necessary to be completely open to the world on sites like Facebook, a good community manager will care enough about their personal brand to share some things publicly. Knowing how to use privacy settings and when to share publicly for greater interaction is a key characteristic of successful community managers.
It is unusual to find someone who is good with analysis and extremely personable, but that is what you need. Ideally, you'll find someone who is as at home connecting with members as they are manipulating Microsoft Excel.
If you are a large, well-funded company or association, you may need to adjust for larger teams. With larger companies, your primary engager is often different than the person who analyzes engagement statistics, but they still need to talk to one another. It's essential that community managers be able to measure their engagement success on their own or with the help of others.
Your community manager is the heart of your customer or member engagement strategy. While you may have a number of people posting in your online community, this person will be the figurehead and ultimately lead the interaction and the content your online community offers. You want someone who is dedicated to the job and knows what you and your executive team see as measures of success.
If they don't understand your goals or have these five characteristics, they may not have the right personality to run an engaging online community. So before you hire a new community manager, make sure they have the understanding and experience necessary to be effective, and can create an online community engagement strategy in keeping with your goals.