Have You Got the Right Stuff for a Community Manager Future?

You should have seen me and heard me! 

I jumped for joy, laughed out loud, clapped my hands and smiled from ear to ear as I read the content for this week’s Community Manager Class. (Well, I only partly did all that–but I certainly felt that way.)

Flickr/CC/Alex Mestas

Flickr/CC/Alex Mestas

Given the 15-week span of this class, the 15-month effort to earn my iSchool Certificate of Advanced Studies in Information Innovation/Social Media, and more than 15 years of work in PR and communications behind me, the end week of #CmgrClass signifies achievements beyond simply finishing another class, and I found those reflected in the course readings this week about the future of community manager jobs.

Here’s why: IST 620 completes my certificate program (once some paperwork is done). Finishing my CAS/Social Media credential means that I’ve achieved a sizeable goal. A year ago January, I set out to­ update my skills and convert my thinking from the status-quo world of traditional media and PR practice to the new reality of digital and online communication spaces. So this week, I got some good lessons and some affirmations that couldn’t have been more helpful and appropriate at this time.

Here’s where I #humblebrag (Please indulge me for just a bit).

This week’s readings provided a mirror for me. I suspected before (and have learned through this class) that I possess “the right stuff” for community manager work. My work experience and educational background, personality traits, work ethic, and cultural orientation are the type of ingredients that typically makes for a fine community manager. Through this course, I also now have the needed mindset, training, and skills—things learned from highly respected community managers who are leaders in the industry. And I’m feeling that I learned well, and now can successfully go forth in #CMGR work. I’ve been very lucky to have enjoyed a leading-edge social media and information space environment at the iSchool over five semesters, another element that’s been  instrumental in moving me from  old school to new realm. (Not that I was that #oldskool.)

Flickr/CC

Flickr/CC

To provide some perspective on these readings and that vantage point for others, I’ll quote what Erin Bury says in Social Fresh about the time she interviewed for the role of #CMGR at Sprouter. She was told then that a community manager is a mix of writing, PR, communications, and social media. After being in the role for a time, she now reflects: It’s a Web 2.0 communications role,” one that is “the face of a company, managing communications in both directions. This digital-savvy employee is responsible for all communications, PR, social media, events, and content creation, among other things.”

Erin says the job includes content creation, social media marketing, events and event planning, public relations, customer relations, communications and marketing strategy, analytics, and business development. She says a person suited to the role needs: an outgoing personality, writing skills, social media experience, interest in the industry (passion), a work-around-the-clock willingness, good employee, PR experience, cultural fit, and intellectual curiosity. (Sorry to add more #Brag here, but: Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, and Check.)

In a Mashable piece about CM jobs, Mario Sundar of LinkedIn says community managers also should love the product or company they represent—but still must be able to “have an understanding of users’ pain points.” A community manager should be empathetic, too, since “that will help them be better at responding to complaints (and, at times, rants).” (Check!)

Community managers also must “understand that their role is to help people and enable their community to connect with each other,” writes Andres Glusman, of Meetup.com. (Another Check.) Another must for community managers, says Seamus Condron at ReadWriteWeb, is authenticity. “It’s not just about having a voice, but having an authentic one.” (A Double Check for me!)

Little-Orange-Chow/Flickr-CC

Little-Orange-Chow/Flickr-CC

It’s clear that the “hard tools” of the trade (data and analytics) will be as crucial as the “soft” tools for a community manager, yet it is good to understand that, as a  future job prospects go, the Community Manager role is gaining in business-world significance. As Vadim Lavrusik noted in Mashable:  “… engaging users online and off has become ever more important for both companies big and small. That’s because social media has revolutionized the idea of word-of-mouth marketing, providing not only an opportunity for companies to expand their brands but also creating the risk of a customer service nightmare.”Flickr/CC/cindy47452

So at the end of #CMGRClass, I’m feeling very good about my decision to retool, stay fresh, and keep learning. The insights, education, and  associations have been great. And I look forward to opportunities to become part of what Buzzing Communities author Richard Millington said community manager work is all about: a professional discipline whose value is backed by data.

Flickr/CC/cindy47452

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