Let’s face it, Community Management might be one of the hot careers right now, but most people still don’t know what a Community Manager does. I constantly find myself having to explain to my friends, and parents, what exactly I do, and even then I find myself insisting that I must do more that just ‘spend the day playing around on Facebook.’ In fact, my job is a neat blend of psychology, journalism, analytics and moments of pure brilliance.
A very wise VC once told me that the key is, you should figure out a way to explain what you do to your mother. While I think he was referring to elevator pitches for startups, I have taken the advice nonetheless and I have come up with the 3 C’s (or 6 depending on how you view it) of Community Management.
This was pretty much the original job of the Community Manager. This was someone who was knowledgeable about the social landscape and who spent time participating in it as well. This would be someone who can tweet relevant content, answer questions on specialized forums or Q&A sites like Quora, and figure out how to engage folks around them. He/she probably did his/her fair share of ‘playing’ around on Facebook or Twitter, but always with a purpose of engaging users, understanding the marketplace and getting people to love the brand.
The newcomer to the Community Management party, customer care generally involves placating peeved users and turning them into brand champions. Community Management actually involves a healthy mix of answering e-mails from unhappy customers (or better yet, overjoyed ones!), replying to tweets or Facebook posts about the company (preferably within a matter of minutes), watching over user forums (if the site has them), and making sure everyone is happy, healthy, playing nice, etc. Think recess monitor. It also requires being available 24/7 because you never know when that one unhappy customer will blast a review to his network of 500+ Twitter followers, or when an event breaks that makes a great tweet (aka newsjacking, fun term, huh?). Seriously, this kind of thing is a big deal. Of course, to everyone else Community Managers make this look effortless.
These days many CMs are finding the job is more than they originally bargained for, because instead of just playing the role of everyone’s best friend and, punching bag, they must also play journalist and industry expert. You find many a Community Manager writing blog post upon blog post about how to succeed in ‘X’ industry (whatever their company does). CM’s become quite good at seeming like they know what they’re doing (note how much you’re currently engrossed by this thoroughly informative posting), and truth be told, after a while, they probably are industry experts. Content creation takes up a lot of time, and also involves finding co-workers/industry experts who will write posts for them (so if your Community Manager asks, please take pity and help!), relevant articles to post, and topics to write about that will excite their readers. Only after its written do CM’s spend the extra hours formatting the post, maximizing its SEO and promoting it on social media outlets. Truth be told, this is the rough one.
All and all, Community Management is an incredibly diverse role, and its constantly changing, but that’s what makes it so much fun! A CM’s skill set probably includes HTML, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, analytics and poetry among many others. They are probably the one you want to bring home to impress the parents because lets face it, they’re good at reading the situation and making friends. CM’s get to exercise people, writing, analytic, and networking skills, (etc.) and if they’re good at their job they probably love every moment of it.
So yes, Community Managers can get away with going on Facebook at work, and yes, you probably have no idea what they’re doing, but mostly it’s because they’re doing a million things at once, and rocking it out! Next time really love a brand, check out their Community Manager, cause they’re probably a big part of the reason why.
What do you think, get it now, Mom?