Hats & Fiends: Choosing a Community Manager

Wheel-Cogs and Puzzle Pieces and the Like
So, here at Mack Web Solutions we’ve overlooked a rather critical piece in the process of a company’s self-actualization as a web marketing entity.

Now, in our defense, we didn’t overlook it because we were ignorant of the need for this piece. We overlooked it because we have gotten so phenomenally lucky in our acquisition of it that it never occurred to us that it might not be so easy to find.

Thoroughly confused? Excellent.

The piece we’re talking about, you see, is June. (Smile and wave, June. All eyes are on you).

June Macon, Community Manger, Social Media, Strategist

June.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, June Macon is Mack Web Solutions’ community manager. (And social media strategist and sometime project manager and frequent comic relief).

Not June.

Of course, all those hats means that we’ve actually broken one of the cardinal rules of selecting a community manager. Which is rather embarrassing, considering there’s really only two.

But more on those in a minute. First, a more fundamental question.

 What is a community manager?

I am so glad you asked. Your community manager is the person primarily responsible for your company’s online presence.

They manage your social media accounts, review and share the blogs and social pages of your industry thought leaders, and oversee the distribution of your content.

Fancy talk, but what it boils down to is that they spend their time checking a lot of blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and the like. They read, respond, and reshare anything of value they find.

They are also responsible for making sure any of your blog posts, infographics, videos, or company announcements reach the virtual world in the most efficient and relevant way.

So, in other words, your community manager, uh, manages your community.

Sounds fun, huh?

The truth is that it can be, but that leads us back around to those two simple, but cardinal, rules.

Rule #1: Pick someone who actually likes social stuff.
It sounds like a ‘duh,’ but the truth is that there are a lot of people out there who are quite good with socializing and quite bad at social media.

You can’t just grab a random person out of your IT or PR staff and thrust them into the social universe. (Well, you can, but you probably won’t much like the results).

Try to find someone who already knows most of the ins and outs of things like Twitter or Google+. There must be at least one person on your staff who has a blog or a Twitter handle. That one person is probably who you want to start with.

Someone who already likes and does not fear the social realm is far more likely to be an effective ambassador to the Disparate Republics of Internetesia.

Because the truth is that, though they may deny it, many, many people find the idea of tweeting or commenting or Hangouting rather intimidating. And not unlike dogs and kindergarteners…the internet can smell fear.

So find someone who is actually willing to give it the ol’ college try. (Whatever that actually means. It’s kinda up there with “to boot” for baffling phraseology).

social media meme

Kinda June.

Rule #2: Pick someone who actually has the time.
Being a community manager is a whole lot of work. While the description may sound suspiciously like “sitting on your duff, browsing the internet”, managing an online community requires a real time commitment and a targeted determination.

So heaping that particular burden…er…delight on someone who already has a demanding job is both counterproductive and rather unkind.

(Unless, of course, they are a superwhiz like Our June. Then it’s more a statement of admiration for her general awesomeness).

Just to get an idea of what we’re talking about with this, here’s a brief glimpse of what June’s daily community manager grind looks like:

9:00 am: Arrive in office. Exchange pleasantries with co-workers. Turn on computer.

9:03-11:00 am: Work like a fiend.

11:01 am: Take a deep breath.

11:02 am – 5:00 pm: Mostly do client stuff, while checking in with our community as necessary. Occasionally, there’s lunch. (And with June, frequently there are snacks. Many, many snacks).

Rinse. Repeat.

Twitter meme

Also kinda June.

Working like a fiend
In all seriousness though, in that one to two hour interval, June’s actual task list is broad but variable, depending on whether or not it’s a “post day.”

(Post days, just to clarify, are days where the Mack Web team is putting out a new blog post).

But post day or no post day, her routine usually looks a little something like this:

  • Facebook: check our wall, check our newsfeed. Engage, comment, like, respond. Search for content to share. If found, share.
  • Twittercheck for engagement (direct messages or responses), respond. Search the stream for content to share. If found, retweet or create a tweet with link, hashtags, and clever teaser. 
  • Google+: check for engagement, respond. Search for content to share on the stream. If found, share. (Are you sensing a theme, here?)
  • LinkedIn: check her personal profile & groups. Look for content to share. If found, share. Check the company profile. Share content.
  • Check news headlines. Yahoo News, Mashable, etc. Look for content to share. If found, share. 
  • Check our friends’ blogs. Comment, respond, engage. Look for content to share. If found, share.

While she’s checking these many outlets, she’s also keeping an eye out for fun ideas we can appropriate and repurpose or gaps in the general knowledge of the community that we can fill.

On top of all that, on a post day, she drafts specific content teasers for our various outlets and audiences.

She also oversees the preparation of things like pushing our content live and post-specific email marketing.

And here at Mack Web…we pretty much have at least one post day a week.

Hence the fiendlike working.

Finding a support system
The beauty of belonging to a group that specializes in fostering online community is that they’ve created a rather lovely online community you can join to gain inspiration and indulge in a little commiseration.

If you have been honored with an appointment to the Noble Order of Community Managers, there are ways to find and connect with your brethren.

For example:

  • Mashable has created a category specifically for CMs.
  • You have your very own Twitter hashtag: #CMGR.
  • There are websites specifically created and populated just for you and your topics of concern, the aptly named The Community Manager and My Community Manager. 
That last one, by-the-by, once named Our June Community Manager of the Day and hosts Google+ Hangouts that Our Same June frequently attends.
  • You even have your very own Community Manager Day. (An honor previously only held by Mothers and Fathers. And Grandparents. And Teachers. And Secretaries. And Veterans. And Presidents. And Flags. And St. Patrick).

The point being…you’re not alone. Hook up with your peers and celebrate your not-aloneness.

Get the picture?
So, in essence, June’s job is to keep Mack Web Solutions active and relevant in the wide world of the interwebs. It takes a lot of work and a lot of smiling and a lot of communication both internal and external. And, apparently, rather a lot of snacks.

How did you select your community manager? What other characteristics would you take into consideration?

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