There are as many titles for those of us that work in social media as there are people doing it. And that number, in both instances, is growing daily! Whether call ourselves “Social Media Managers,” “The Person that Runs Social Media for X-Brand” or “Community Managers,” we all have a lot in common.
So what makes for a successful Social Media Manager? What do you aim to look for in the people you hire for this highly exciting, super busy, changing-as-we-speak position? This position didn’t exist even as recently as five years ago – do we even know what we should be looking for?
Generally speaking, you are looking to your social media manager to be the voice of your brand (and often the face, as well). This is someone that espouses who your company is, and often represents the first impression people will have with your brand. Therefore, the person will stand for what your company as a whole stands for and not only understands and buys into, but understands your brand’s overall strategy and objectives.
Here are 10 qualities I believe people need to possess, in order to be successful managing social media for a brand:
1. Someone who is friendly and responsive: Social media managers are conversational, able to speak with people from all sorts of demographics, and enjoy doing so. They draw their energy from their communities and are highly attentive to the members of their communities daily. They look forward to discussing a variety of ideas and topics, and are timely in their responses to comments and questions.
|It's true. We are always on our phones.|
2. Someone who is highly passionate: Exactly what they are passionate about can and will vary, but they need to be able to tie into their passions, and those of their communities. They enjoy social media and enjoy their job and the work they do, and it is evident through their communications. To get other people excited about something (i.e. your brand!) you need your social media staff to be just as excited. Excitement is contagious!
3. Has experience in online/digital communications: I see people discussing this on Twitter a lot lately, in highly charged chats and direct messages. The idea that “everyone is a consultant these days.” You want someone that doesn’t just have a Facebook and Twitter page set up. In my opinion, you want someone with experience. A person who isn’t just learning on the fly as they go along, but someone that has a proven track record of success online. You get what you pay for, right? If you want to get the best, I believe it’s in your best interest to hire someone with at least 2 years of experience leading communities, putting together and tracking online campaigns. Remember, someone with less experience might have a much more amazing personal Facebook page, but that doesn’t mean you should automatically trust them to run yours for your business.
4. Someone with a passion for constantly learning: It goes without saying (but does it, really?) that your social media manager is staying on top of what people are talking about: reading blogs, subscribing to feeds, learning all they can about social media and technology, and helping to ensure they know not only what tools, apps, and media are available to them and your brand, but more important what is coming. If you’re not a step ahead, you run the risk of being 10 steps behind. Are they just as consistent in looking to learn more about themselves? About other people? It’s not brought up often, but something I always admire in social media/community managers is the quality of self-awareness and confidence. These people don’t have to be told not to go after shiny new objects all the time. They know how to take time and vet opportunities. They are patient, realizing that while social media is constantly changing, they don’t need to follow the crowd. They are strong enough in themselves to be willing to openly engage with people, making their voices heard, without worry about being disliked for having an opinion.
5. Has a thick skin: I think this is a continuation of #4. It’s a long road to social media success. It’s hard, takes a lot of time and isn’t all puppies and sunshine. (and anyone that says it is, or makes it LOOK like it is 24/7 isn’t being as transparent as they’re most likely telling you they are) You’ll make mistakes. You’ll send out errant tweets for your brand, thinking you’re still signed into your personal account. It helps to find someone who is calm under pressure, realizes not everything is an emergency, doesn’t have a lot of drama surrounding them, and isn’t found on most days crying under their desk. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the voice of doom and gloom for those of you looking to get into community management positions – it’s one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever had. I thrive on the daily excitement of my online communities. I am just being realistic and trying to manage expectations from the very start.
6. Does not call themselves an expert or a guru: Self-confidence is admirable, yes, but not when it is seen as ego, or is entirely misplaced. I was talking to someone about this the other day and mentioned that I think “ego is the enemy of influence.” Overconfidence prevents people from asking questions, admitting and being willing to learn what they do not yet know. I’d take a step back from anyone with the words guru, expert or maven in their online bios.
7. Possesses analytical skills: Here’s another one that is really more of a two-parter from #6. Social Media is a “must” for pretty much any and every brand, but it’s not EVERYTHING. A good social media manager realizes that social media isn’t the “be all end all,” but another element in your overall marketing mix. Your social media should always be a part of the larger plan, the overall company strategy. You want your social media manager to keep tabs on what is and is not getting you closer to your goals every single day, and going back to having a thick skin, is able to adapt in a moment’s notice when necessary.
8. Has clear motives: For better or worse, there is a rather low barrier to entry for social media professionals. In today’s digital world, anyone can simply call themselves a social media consultant and begin consulting people. And they are. It is increasingly easier to become “internet famous” these days. Some people are pretty obvious in their goal to become an insta-celebrity, but there are people (admittedly, I’ve fallen prey to a couple) that hide it too well, and only disappoint you once you realize who they really are. I’d recommend finding someone that is in it for YOU, for your brand. And by that, I mean someone that realizes it’s actually not about your brand at all! Contradictory? Maybe. Absolutely necessary? Without a doubt. True social media “professionals” recognize that everything they do needs to be done for the consumer. The people without whom, you wouldn’t have a brand at all. I look to people that are rarely talking about themselves, whose accounts are not devoid of @ replies solely pushing out their own content, those that believe in their brand and the fact that their brand was founded on the ideals of helping people.
9. An understanding of how people think: I’m not saying we have solved the Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus conundrum. But success in social media is tied into finding emotional connections with people and your manager needs to be able to do that. Not by phoning it in or saying what they think people want to hear, but via truly connecting with people hearts first and then their minds.
10. They are insomniacs: Just kidding. Kind of. This might be the only time those of us that struggle to sleep have found an outlet for our late-night lives. Social media management cannot be done by someone looking to keep 9-5 hours. Social media doesn’t sleep, but that doesn’t mean your manager can’t. It just means that they need to be able to manage their time better than most people. Can it be intrusive into our lives at times? Perhaps, but I think it's all a matter of perspective.
Your turn! This is by no means an exhaustive list. Tweet me at @lucyrk78 and let me know what qualities YOU admire in social media managers? What do YOU think makes them successful?