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#cmLDN March meetup: ‘What makes a community manager?’ – notes

What makes a community manager? This was the title of last Wednesday’s meetup event for the new and growing Community Manager London group.  

And a key point of discussion it is too – with many recruitment agencies and companies thinking of employing a community managers and wondering what the role will require.

Steve Ward, founder of Cloud Nine Recruitment who recently ran an award for the ‘community manager of the year 2011’ took us on a whistlestop tour of how the community manager role has evolved form 1998 to present from his perspective in media recruitment.

You can see the slides form Steve’s talk here – which give you a good idea of many of the points covered – the main one I took away from the talk was in some ways how community managers are doing the job the startup CEO used to do – in terms of meeting and knowing intimately the company’s users and target audience – holding the keys to future development and possibly business potential too.

[View this story “What Makes a Community Manager? (#cmLDN March meetup)” on Storify – helpfully curated by Elana Zak]

From the days of the backroom moderator turned forum manager – community managers today now benefit from separate roles evolving in pr and moderation – allowing the cm to focus on developing and speaking to the community. But they have gained new skills and jobs too – including being a ‘brand ambassador’ (the key point from Steve here was that in many cases, the community manager can be the first and only person a customer/user has contact with), creative ideas-generator, and in the future Ward implied the role would be more inclusive of ‘acquisition’ – finding communities elsewhere and ‘dragging’ them over.

SKILLS

Here’s a list of skills Ward said employers were looking for in the modern community manager:

  1. Journalism/writing skills
  2. Listening skills: “only way a community manager can work is by listening to the audience”
  3. Context: knowing the context of audience
  4. Engaging content driver: maybe seeking guest blogs
  5. knowing the brand usps

Essentially, said ward, the role has the same purpose but is in a much bigger playground, and has gone from back office to front of house. 

DISCUSSION

Following Steve’s talk Georgina Thomas from digital agency Crayon, who is currently recruiting a community manager for the company, led a discussion on ‘Mr/Mrs community manager – can we build a picture of the person who fits the role?’ – there was some conversation on whether we could build a ‘one size fits all’ person – and whether actually that for different community sectors (from newspapers to gaming to brands etc) each community manager will have a different set of priorities.

Other points of discussion included the future of the community manager role, how much passion for the subject is needed to build community to prove credibility (answer = a lot!), and whether the skills and responsibility on community managers is being reflected in job status and pay packet (general answer from members was ‘no’).

CONCLUSIONS?

The main thing I came away with was renewed enthusiasm and confirmation for what community managers across the country are doing – and all I have left to say is if you want to find out more detail then you really do need to be attending the cmLDN meetups! Wait for news of the next one by signing up to the meetup group here.

Written by hrwaldram

March 31, 2012 at 7:58 pm

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