Lessons learned as a Community Manager that a job description will not tell you

21 Jun

    There are things a job description will tell you about a job and things you will learn, the hard way, while doing the job.
    I never really read a job description about being a Community Manager, I sort of just became one and only after reading a description did it click that ‘Hey! I do that!’.
    Sure, I am one of the co-founders of The Social Woman, and should have probably assumed when starting the site that ‘Community Management’ was something I would end up doing but in part we probably thought-“Hey, we’re creating this awesome site, people will just end up interacting!” Wrong.
    Three lessons I have learned as a community manager that a job description will not tell you.

  1. Build it and they will come: Sure, you’ve ‘created’ a community (can one even really create a community? We’ll save that for another conversation) or rather facilitated a way for people to connect and engage around a central theme. Ok, fine. You’ve built it, so where is everyone? Well, it takes time to spread the word and people will only know about your community if they hear about it. You need to get the word out. Whether it’s a community for golf/yoga/horseback-riding enthusiasts, you need to bring those enthusiasts to your community or at least let them know it exists.
  2. Guide People. Show them how you want to act & don’t assume they will just do what you expect.
    In the first few months after starting the site, I wasn’t welcoming new members. Why not? It just didn’t occur to me and also part of me thought that they would go ahead and read the ‘Getting Started Guide’. Or maybe I was just shy? Eventually I did have the light-bulb moment and started welcoming each and every member to the community. I needed to lead by example. If I wanted members to engage, I needed to show them how to engage. So one by one when a new member joined I began welcoming them and directing them to the ‘Getting Started Guide’. What happened? Other members took notice and took my lead and started welcoming new members! One thing removed off of the list!
  3. Be Human. Be real. No one wants to interact with a bot.
    from Social Media Today

    “the key to successfully building an online community is to genuinely care about the people you want to reach.”

    I noticed there were hardly conversations happening. So I started having them. With myself. Eventually it caught on and people started responding. Now there are way more conversations happening than I can keep up with. But the key is that these are conversations that I do want to have.  I’m part of this community and I want to know how their events are going, how their friendships are developing and how we can help to make their experience better. There’s no faking it.

Bonus: As cliché as it may sound, a community really is like a garden. You must sow the seeds (what you expect, how you want others to act), nurture it (engage) and occasionally pull out a few weeds (spammers, troublemakers). And of course, shower it with love.

Out of curiosity I Googled ‘Community Manager Job Description’ just to see what it would entail based on my own personal experience over the last year: [You will see my comments in brackets]

* Has a bachelor’s or associates degree in music, advertising, marketing, graphics, web development, communications, English, IT, music, theater, anthropology, history or related. [What about Passion, Interest? Can you get a degree in that?]
* Has work experience or training in advertising, PR, online marketing or similar field [Practice, Practice, Practice]
* Proficient with Microsoft Office products. [Check]
* Dedicated to blogging and use of Facebook [Check]
* Demonstrated creativity and documented immersion in social media [Check]
* Demonstrated ability to map out a marketing strategy and then drive that strategy proven by testing and metrics [Ongoing efforts]
* Understands social media universe including YouTube, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Digg, Reddit, Flickr, Forums, Twitter, Wikis, blogs, etc…We’re looking for a social media addict who maintains a personal mix of participatory expertise from among these channels. [YES!]
* Possesses functional knowledge or some experience with HTML/CSS [Check]…..
.* Has excellent verbal and written communication skills and an ability to work individually on a project or in a team environment
* Is eager to meet and exceed objectives and take on more responsibility [Yes, everyday I want to CRUSH IT]
* Brings to the position outstanding organizational skills and the ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously while meeting deadlines [Read: You can multitask. Check. I’m doing six things as I type this sentence]
* Ability to communicate results to management and in a fast paced environment [Blah balah blaaaaaaaaaah]

Essential Duties and Responsibilities
* Interact with our customers to align unselfish service of their needs, with our corporate objectives [Check]
* Be the eyes and ears of our brand as if your own reputation depended on it [Check, it is my reputation!]
* Minute by minute participation in conversations that surround our content and brand, answer comments, be a mediator.” [Digital Burnout. Check.].

What have you experienced as a Community Manager? Any tips?

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