I spent a good amount of time exploring vocational ministry while I was in college. I volunteered at a number of churches and even ended up leading the leadership ministry of our youth group, and growing college students ministry. And while I’ve found more of a personal career niche in social media work, ministry taught me some valuable lessons that have immensely helped me in my job as a community manager. Social media workers are kind of like pastors, in their own right. Where a pastor’s job is 24/7, a social media worker’s job is truly never-ending. Like ministry, the social internet never sleeps. It means waking up in the middle of the night if there is a natural disaster, or a P/R disaster. It means going to great lengths in comforting your flock or your community. It means protecting your cause or your mission as if your life and soul depends on it. It means that your “office” is your iPhone or your computer, which also means that you never actually leave the “office.” Like pastors, I believe social media workers need to have a real passion for their job. A passion that is evident and honest and natural for you to live out.
2. A strong belief in and knowledge of your company
This is a trait I will live and die by because I so strongly believe in it. Community managers are voices for their company, they are on the front-lines representing their company to the public. If you don’t believe in what you’re “selling,” you can hardly sell it authentically. And authenticity goes a long way in social media. In fact, it’s imperative in this medium that depends on transparency and genuineness. Vegetarians don’t speak on behalf of meat companies, because they don’t believe in them. And if vegetarians were a voice for meat companies, they certainly wouldn’t be the most genuine of voices.
So if you genuinely care about what you’re talking about… (point two of this trait is…) KNOW what you’re talking about. There’s nothing that can drive a customer more crazy than a company representative who doesn’t know what they are talking about. Unless you walk the walk, you can’t talk the talk. That’s why, for World Vision, I’m a firm believer that if you’re going to be repping child sponsorship, you better be a child sponsor. And so I am.
3. Ability to be everyone’s best friend
Best friends are transparent, caring and fun. Sometimes the job of a community manager is to comfort upset customers, or in World Vision’s case, a donor who made need personal prayer (this goes back to believing in your company).
Whenever I give a presentation or short workshop about social media at our office, I always tell people that I think of our Facebook “fans” as friends (and in fact, many of them are my Facebook friends). And so I talk to them like friends. I believe this type of mindset and care has truly helped us to create a community of nurture and family, and has taught me more about community management than any of these other traits. Nobody likes fake friends, so we aren’t going to fake it on Facebook either.
4. Wearer of multiple hats
As a community manager for World Vision, there are literally times where I feel like a Child Ambassador, or a Team World Vision runner (ok, not runner, but at least a walking participant), or a sponsor, or a call-center representative, or an Act:s fellow, or a Women of Vision… the list goes on. But I love it. And I think good community managers should be wearer of multiple hats, and they should love wearing multiple hats.
I tend to joke that I sometimes I feel like a communicator stuck in a marketer’s pants. But truth is, social media is communication and content, and it’s marketing. And it’s customer service. And it’s customer care. It’s a hybrid vocation that requires hybrid workers. (Ok, so what I’m really trying to say is the fourth must have trait of a community manager is the ability to juggle multiple priorities and demands with the ability to constantly mix and match the best of your company’s communications methods to produce the best possible public facing message, all in real time).
5. Shares the wealth
Community managers must possess the personality (not just the professional) trait of promoting, acknowledging, and publicly appreciating others. Email and direct mail might have been all about me, but social media is about us. It’s about a mission or a cause or a product we all share a common belief or liking in. In many ways, part of a community managers job is to give each of our community members their own personal five minutes of fame. Your company’s message is only as important or valuable as others believe in it, too. So you have to provide them an avenue… you have to allow them the avenue to talk about your company and product.
After all, the number one rule of Twitter is the retweet — that should teach us all a little lesson in social media etiquette.
6. Learner for life
We can all agree that social media is an ever-changing landscape — one that offers new insight, technologies, platforms and platform changes by the minute. When you choose social media as a career, don’t forget you signed the imaginary dotted line right beneath read articles daily, follow trending topics, subscribe to blogs, write blogs, listen to the news, watch for the mainstream to affect the social stream, and a hundred other little things. Community managers have to be dedicated learners for life.
Do you have traits you would add to this list? Comment them or tweet them to me and I’ll include them in my next rendition.