Stop hiring junior people as Community Managers!

The role of community manager on social media is such an important one. As I define it, this person needs to be the person who goes between your brand and the customer every single day. On one side they need to be a great brand ambassador: well-versed with your brand, know the ins and outs of your product or service, be able to answer pretty much every question they receive, withstand the heat of angry customers, and generally make everyone that comes in contact with them a fan. On the other side, they need to really “get” the customer and community. They need to know the latest trends, be up on the hopes, dreams, fears, and passions of your customers, be a great listener who can distill messages and have the experience to pick out valid from petty complaints, and have the maturity to be a good community leader. So this sounds like a pretty big responsibility, right? “Sure sure sure sure sure,” I Heart Huckabees Which is why I wonder…why do brands still hire interns and juniors for these positions? Do they not know how important this role is? “What were you thinking?!” Apu, The Simpsons Today I’m going to talk about the importance of hiring an experienced and mature community manager.

My name is Tara and this is …Truly Social. Alright, so I kind of get why many brands fail to value this position. It looks like hella fun. And, truly, as a person who has been in the community management role many times over the years, I’m gonna confirm that it is a pleasurable role. What’s not to enjoy? You get to spend all day chatting with people, making friends, learning things, joking around, and connecting with some really interesting people online. It’s kind of a dream job for people who love to hang out online with people with similar interests.

“My life is good. Really good.” Nacho Libre. But it’s not always fun and games. When times get tough – products break, prices go up, the company makes a gaff, etc – the community manager is on the front line of that wrath. “Kill kill kill!” The Simpsons. Now, this makes legal and PR pretty nervous, which I understand, but that’s why it’s very important to have a mature person in that role as community manager. Someone with experience will handle themselves better under pressure than someone without. And someone that handles themselves well – with the consideration of both the company AND the customers in mind – can actually help save the organization tons of time, money and tears.

A good, experienced community manager is obsessed with forging strong bonds between an organization and the community. Years ago, I described good marketing people as customer sympathizers. A community manager is the closest person you’ll find to being that customer sympathizer. Unlike customer service who are just there to receive complaints and respond to them, community managers spend every day with customers, and, unlike sales, they don’t have as much of an alterior motive to that interaction. “A – always. B – be. C – closing. Always be closing.” Glengarry Glen Ross Think about it…They can also bring back market intelligence 24/7. They can spot trends a mile away, get ahead of shifts in customer tastes. The relationships they forge can also give your company the benefit of the doubt in times of turmoil.

It’s also super important to hire mature, experienced professionals as community managers because they need autonomy and leverage to do their job well. Though there are definitely exceptions, someone straight out of school doesn’t usually have the maturity or experience to do this role as well as they could. “She’s very mature for her age,” Pineapple Express. And someone continents away, well, they may not connect with a local community. You also need to respect this position. Many years ago, an old boss made a joke about my role in the organization, communicating his lack of understanding around my worth. An associate had asked me in our mixed company: “So, what do you do?” And my boss quips, “She writes for Twitter.” “You think that’s funny, don’t you?” “Yeah” Shampoo. Okay, that was kind of funny, I do admit it. But the sad part is that his comment reflected how he really felt about my contributions. As he said that, I was creating inroads with a competitor, who was eating this company’s lunch, that led to an acquisition of this competitor 6 months later and development of all sorts of cool products.

I also opened up all sorts of opportunities for positive press coverage, speaking opportunities, and influencer endorsements. This was all free publicity from the connections that I was forging. I also built customer fan groups that are still advising on future products. [mic drop from Minions] If you are neglecting this important role and crucial component of your social presence, you are missing out on countless opportunities. If you hired your neighbours kid or someone straight out of college to cover your channels, you could be setting yourself up for a scary situation. And at best, you’re missing a ton of opportunities. Investing in a mature, experienced community manager is essential. Find a person who “GETS” your audience – maybe is even in your audience right now. Give that person support and guidance, but also autonomy and leverage. And, by all means, resist the urge to belittle their role.

It could become one of the most pivotal roles in your company. My name is Tara and this has been …Truly Social..

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