Interview: What an Agency Looks for When Hiring Community Managers
Search for the term “Community Manager” on any online job board, and you’ll likely find tens of thousands of positions that need to be filled. But if you’re the one doing the hiring, how can you make sure you find a community manager worth his or her salt? Is there a standard set of must-have skills for every prospective employee who wants to manage your social media presence?
We asked Marjorie R. Asturias, president of social media and content marketing agency Blue Volcano Media, what she looks for when hiring community managers for her company. Her answers may surprise you! Either way, they’ll be instructive — and that’s whether you’re looking for a job as a community manager or looking to hire one for your organization.
The Surprising Skills That Are Most Important
Over the past three and a half years, Marjorie and her team have provided community management services for dozens of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Though her clients are quite varied, they all need community managers who care about, understand, and will represent their businesses effectively on social media.
Marjorie says that the most critical criteria she looks for when evaluating potential community managers are “writing skills, insatiable curiosity, and an attention to detail bordering on obsessive.” In other words, she said, “I’m looking for a really good reporter or journalist.”
For Asturias, being a great community manager is not necessarily about being extremely adept at social media. In fact, she says that it starts with being a great writer first. And as a former newspaper journalist and freelance writer, Asturius knows first-hand what good (and bad) writing looks like. “I’ve had to let go otherwise promising hires with great attitudes and a love of social media, but who really just can’t write.”
Curiosity Is Key
Regarding the requirement of already-mentioned insatiable curiosity in her community managers, Marjorie says this is particularly important when representing clients, products, and services that may not appear to be as “sexy” as other popular brands on social media. For example, when she picked up a new client in the architectural signage space, she had to do some initial research to find out what that term actually meant.
As a result, she discovered myriad examples of how important and pervasive architectural signage actually is in our every day lives — directional signage in airports and hospitals, for instance. This provided her virtually limitless ways to represent her client on social media that would go well beyond its traditional target audience.
“I encourage all my staff to research the businesses and the sectors they represent,” says Ms. Asturias. “They don’t need to become signage experts or anything, but they should at least have the curiosity about a client’s business to find innovative ways of representing and promoting that brand on social media.”
Attention to Detail
There is a significant difference between writing for yourself and writing on behalf of a brand. When representing dozens of different brands simultaneously, there is no room for error. Marjorie says her team’s attention to detail “means ensuring that every tweet, post, and comment is perfect and perfectly timed since we are representing our clients’ hard-earned brand to an audience of potentially thousands, if not millions of people.” The devil they say, is in the details!
Advice for Prospective Community Managers
Ms. Asturias also provided some advice for would-be community managers looking for work in this field. “Brush up on your writing skills. That means perfecting your spelling, grammar, syntax, and style. If you have to go back to community college to take a few courses or hire a writing tutor to help you out, do it!”
She says it “goes without saying, but if you want a job in social media, you must ‘do’ social media, and invest at least a few hours a day in building your networks, writing blog posts and promoting them via social media.” Asturias says it’s also good strategy for prospective community managers to keep up on the social media industry by reading and subscribing to relevant blogs. “Read the best social media blogs religiously. You’ll get a good feel for current trends and how businesses are using social media successfully — or not!”
On a more technical note, Asturias advises that community managers in waiting should focus their attentions on learning the ins-and-outs of the “big give networks” that dominate the industry: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Managers should also experiment with different social media tools. That’s a big asset for any prospective employer, according to Marjorie.
Finally, she advises that everyone these days should have a website. “It makes it easier for a hiring manager to learn all about you and your background without having to hunt down every single social media account and published article that you have.”
What else should a company consider when hiring a community manager? Do you have any advice for people looking for work in this field? Let us know in the comments below.