05 January 2010 ~ 2 Comments

Why Community Management is still misunderstood

A community manager qualification checklist

Recruiters approach community-manager hiring as part job interview and part casting audition. Finding the right fit based on the brand persona can be just as important as writing skills and social-media knowledge. Here is a checklist a recruiter might use to consider you as a candidate:

  1. Do you have a presence on social-media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr or You Tube? Does the content on your profiles reflect that you have a good understanding of social-media etiquette?
  2. Do you have a blog? How long have you had one?
  3. Do you use a book-marking site? Which one?
  4. Do you have writing samples — including headlines?
  5. Do you have examples of generating story ideas and editorial strategy?
  6. Do you subscribe to RSS feeds? Which ones? What are your favorite blogs?
  7. Have you done community management for any other organizations? What was your approach?
  8. What e-mail service to you use? Does it reflect your brand? Are you using a cutesy e-mail handle? Are you using an outdated e-mail provider?
  9. Is your personal brand a good fit for the brand you will be representing? Will you be able to relate to the demographic of the community served? Are you passionate about the cause?

Points 1, 3, 6, 8 and 9 strike me as ridiculous. But then so do the £17k salaries and internships for Social Media and Community roles I’ve seen. Community Management is much more than web presence and information absorbtion, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the stories of failed initiatives rest on the shoulders of a poor Social Media user drowning in unexpected complexity.

Whilst I’m all for Community Management being promoted as the excellent and challenging career path it is, I hate to think of the souls sucked into the hype and having a torrid experience due to inexperience and false expectations; I think many of my fellow community managers can vouch that when things go bad, it can be incredibly unpleasant being stuck between a commercial organisation and community members.

I also notice a lack of mention for any policy writing and implementation, which is not a small part of Community Management, and often one of the most complex and problematic to manage. Moderation? Volunteer management? Agency management? All vital skills that I rarely see mentioned in job specs nowadays.

So by all means, consider a career in Community Management, but don’t expect a Twitter account to save you! A good starting point is the wealth of experience and conversations on the Community Roundtable and e-mint, two fantastic resources for community managers.

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