Community Management is an important part of digital marketing as a whole. If your business does not have a dedicated Community Manager, the results you will see from your social media activity will be limited. Too often I have seen marketing managers or interns given the duty of using social media on behalf of the business. This is a bad, bad idea.
The person responsible for your social media needs to be very skilled at what they are doing, not just given it because they’re young, and “young people know how to use social media”. Forgive the stereotype, but I have heard those words said before.
Community Managers are a special breed
The community manager is a role not many people in your existing team could hold if they were in the position full time. It’s even worse when a member of staff is given the duty part time, as well as doing their other work.
A real, dedicated community manager has a specific skill set. They are not just the youngest person in the team, or the one who knows most about or uses social media the most.
This is where the common problem of giving the intern the duty comes from. Often, the intern hasn’t enough understanding of what the business does, let alone what it should be talking about online.
A random member of the team or an intern may not know what to do with your social media. Straight away, you’re wasting time and money on somebody who likely didn’t expect to be given this work.
Get a skilled community manager into the business. A person with basic design skills, good writing skills, a sociable person who is enthusiastic about learning and developing their own knowledge.
Skill 1- Open-mindedness
Good community managers are willing try to new ways, methods and strategies. They are excited by the new campaigns the business is going to run to generate leads. They can’t wait to try the new feature on a social network they’re using.
The world of marketing moves very fast, and that includes social media. There are new features rolling out very often and it’s not always easy to keep up with them all. Your community manager needs to be able to do this, but also keep their mind open to new ways and methods to make use of them.
For example, many people say that Instagram should not be used by B2B businesses because it is too informal and does not allow them to access the right audience. In my experience in my time as a community manager I know Instagram as a powerful tool for driving website traffic and engagement for me, working for a B2B marketing agency.
Skill 2 – Eye for opportunity
A great community manager will spot any opportunity to post, create conversation or involve the business’ online presence in an event and run with it.
If there is a chance for a photograph to be taken and shared on the brand social media channels, a good community manager will spot it and take it.
While looking through their social media dashboards and channels, a good community manager will spot and capitalize upon chances to create conversation. They will see chances to reply to tweets, comment on posts, share posts and engage people.
Finally, an intelligent community manager will plan ahead of dates when members of staff are going to or speaking at events. They will go to the event and join in the conversation online about the event, leaving a bigger footprint from the business on the event. They can still do this even if they don’t go to the event. They will see an event as an opportunity for wider reach, a chance to speak to new people and engage them.
These 3 types of opportunity may not sound particularly ground breaking, or as though they may generate astonishing results but you would be surprised. From my experience I know event social media is very powerful. Having worked with a startup launching at an event in London, the hosts, visitors and other stands at the event showed huge interest in the company I represented due to the buzz we created on Twitter.
The eye for opportunity doesn’t always generate you a new lead or client, but it can build followers. This can build website traffic. That can mean more leads. More leads can generate more sales and revenues. More revenues means business growth. This may sound far-fetched, but long term this is what can happen.
The community manger is one avenue you can use to generate this traffic, them using opportunities like this is key to growing and building upon their results long term.
Skill 3 – Networking
Networking is a skill people learn over time. It’s very hard to come crashing into a room full of people and shout at them, and expect them to pay attention or listen to your views and messages.
The clue for community managers is that they are using social media, media that is social. By definition, you can’t be social by talking about yourself, to to nobody.
Networking is about talking to new people, building rapport and getting to know them. Only then can you legitimately give them your card, or in social media terms have them follow you and visit your site.
Community managers represent you online because they have the skill to use online media and channels to do that job. Part of that job is to be able to effectively use the channels. The next part is to create and develop that reputation on those channels.
Skill 4 – Quick learner
There are lots of tools created for social media marketing which are helpful in saving time, managing multiple social channels and engaging with people. It would take me a gross amount of time to do the work I do without tools and software packages to help make my work more efficient, such is the level of activity I choose to do on my social media channels.
This makes learning the various tools your business wants to use very important. Learning to use these tools links back to the open-mindedness skill, in the way you have to be able to experiment and explore the capabilities of some tools. Good community managers love doing this.
As mentioned before, social media networks are always adding new or changing old features. Community managers are directly affected by this multiple times per year and have to learn quickly how best to deal with the changes.
What changed, how does it impact what the business does on social media, what is the action required?
These are the immediate questions a quick learning, inquisitive community manager will ask themselves. They will then devise a plan, test it and be open-minded about trying alternative ways to get the most out of what they are doing.
They will also want to learn more about the industry your business is in constantly. They must discuss these topics day in, day out on behalf of the business so they must consume as much knowledge and content as they can to be able to do so. This is one reason I do not believe in freelancing or outsourcing community management. I feel an inside resource is far better able to dedicate themselves to learning and becoming the online voice of the business leading debates and conversation on hot industry topics. An outsourced or freelance community manager may be able to do this but at the end of the day, you are a client and learning your industry will matter less to them.
Skill 5 – Good writers
It goes without saying, any community manager should have good writing skills. They will be composing social media updates to share curated content, sharing your own blog posts and other content assets. To generate interest on this content they need to write persuasive, attractive social updates.
It’s not all about having great language and being a terrific writer, sometimes the basic things are just as important.
For example, one of the best ways to get engagement on social media is to make a spelling mistake. This obviously is not the type of engagement you want and it will reflect negatively on you but it proves a point. If your community manager gets their “they’re, their and there’s” mixed up, you’re going to get some comments online when they make a mistake. Spelling and grammar is almost too obvious to mention in this blog post as a heading because it is taken as a normal thing, but often it can go unnoticed when the attention to detail is not there.
Community managers with writing skills are likely to contribute to the company blog. This of course needs a certain level of writing skill and capability, even if you do have an editor or content team to help.
To summarise, there are lots of skills that any community manager needs. But the key ones I feel are key to an excellent community manager, one who exceeds expectations and goes the extra mile are:
- Open-mindedness – willingness to try new techniques and ways to improve their work
- Opportunity spotting – they’re not afraid to take an opportunity and run with it
- Networking – a core skill to building a community and engaging people
- Quick learner – for adapting to changes on social media and in your industry
- Writing – for creating attractive and attention-worthy posts and content
If you’re a community manager or have experience as one, comment below what your strongest skill was in your role. Which skills do you feel are most important, and what other ones would you add to this list?