What makes a good community manager?

It may have slipped past relatively quietly but, as highlighted in an article on Mashable, 23rd January 2012 marked the third annual Community Managers Appreciation Day. For those of you questioning why community managers have been singled out for this praise, you only have to look to what their day-to-day role entails.

Something many are unaware of is the huge level of responsibility that people in a community manager role hold to ensure the success of a social media channel. They alone are responsible for the channel’s tone, engagement and development. If, as quite often happens, they fail to achieve the objectives approved by the brand, it can lead to some level of embarrassment and in worst case scenarios losing a client! So what is needed to be a successful community manager?

There is of course no definite answer to this, as the role varies at each organisation. What helps is the ability to multi-task, make quick judgement calls and think critically – all competencies you would expect in a management role. However, the need to establish your brand’s tone and maintain its presence throughout the channel cannot be stressed enough.

Chrysanthe Tenentes, community manager at Foursquare, established such a unique tone for the company’s voice that she created a style guide to ensure the voice is upheld by the team. Brand guidelines are a must before the launch of any social media handle. As proven by Foursquare, managing the entire community for a company can be a more than one person job and failure to implement guidelines often results in a slightly schizophrenic feel.

Natalie Villalobos is an interesting case study as she’s the community manager at Google+. Natalie’s a clear fan of the tried and tested theory as she often trials the new features herself (see here for her brand page) before engaging with the community for feedback.

Another great way of managing a community is establishing yourself as the go to guy. Remember MySpace Tom who was always the first to welcome you to the platform with open arms? Well, Mike Fraietta, the enterprise community manager at News Corp follows his example and becomes every employee’s “first friend” on the organisation’s internal social network.

With the way social media platforms are evolving, it’s not surprising that community manager positions are becoming sought after. There’s even a growing community for community managers. Using the hashtag #CMmeetup, community managers in New York, California and even here in the UK are beginning to organise their own meet-ups to knowledge share and swap expertise.

For those of you that recruit community managers and any doubters of the need for an awareness day, here’s a warning of why it’s definitely worth keeping them on your good side!

So next time you visit your favourite brands social media platforms and something makes you laugh or smile, take a minute to think of the person behind the success. Thankfully the Community Managers Appreciation Day gives credit where it’s due.

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