InsightsPOSTED April 7, 2014

Look who’s talking: 3 keys to a great community manager

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3 keys to a great community manager

You’re hearing a good deal about content lately, and for good reason. If you’re not supplying your social audience with engaging, relevant content on a regular basis there’s little point to even having an online community. But something that’s often overlooked in the process is who’s posting your content and how they’re managing those communities.

A good community manager is equal parts actor, parent, and party host. They don’t just post and schedule content (at least not the good ones) — they incite conversations, recognize and reward loyalty, and create an inclusive experience that fans and followers look forward to returning to.

And so with that in mind, here are few questions to as when selecting a great community manager.

1. Can they act? Do they have the voice?

The best community managers embody the spirit and qualities of the brands they represent. They have to be relatable, knowledgeable and sound authentic. But what if your key audience is made up of moms in the 40’s or millennials fresh out of school? What then? Do you go out and hire someone in that age group to manage your social feeds? Great in theory, but not always achievable. So you’ll need someone who can accurately play the part and keep conversations feeling genuine. If your community manager knows their stuff, and is immersed in the brand, they should be able to act relatable no matter who your audience is.

Plus, conversations and attitudes can be different from channel to channel. Your community manager needs to be nimble and have the right tone and approach whether responding on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

2. Can they host a killer party?

Seth Godin sometimes equates social communities to parties — successful brands just happen to be throwing the best ones. That party analogy is pretty accurate when you break it down: a good party host anticipates their guest’s needs, keeps the music playing and is generally on top of things, keeping everyone happy. The same goes for your community manager; they should be quickly answering questions, responding to posts and facilitating a dialogue with just about every person that takes the time to post on your page.

3. Are they nurturing?

Of all the traits your community manager should have, this might be the toughest to find. I sometimes equate social media participation to a high school dance. People are nervous, no one wants to be first and you’re left with a lot of people mingling around the periphery and not doing much. It takes time before people feel comfortable, so having someone who can make them feel welcome and included is huge. That means instigating and nurturing the conversation where there might not be one. It also means keeping a watchful eye on the conversations and making sure everyone feels included (don’t feed the trolls).

Of course there are other keys to a successful community manager (big personality, general excitement for the brand) but these should kick start the search or help you gut-check whether you’re focused on the right things. Social feeds are high-touch areas where customers and fans get to interact with your brand, so selecting the right person to act as an ambassador is integral.

Gary Edgar is APEX’s Director of Digital Strategy. Follow him on Twitter.

Does your brand need a community manager (or more than one)? APEX can help with that.

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