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Sarah Price

Currently there is a lot of demand for online community managers, social media support agents, and social media strategists, but it is difficult to find qualified candidates. Here are some of the things I look for:

- Experience managing/leading a group/community, online or offline. For example, being the social officer of a club.

- Experience managing or moderating online forums or discussion groups. Don't have any? Find a topic or product you are passionate about, find an online board or forum, and start participating. Keep tabs on the traffic/posting activity and try to figure out what makes the community successful; why are some discussions more popular than others? Why are some posters more popular than others?

- Customer service experience. Being a professional community manager or social media manager means a lot of talking to customers, both happy and unhappy. Some days are really hard. I like to know that a candidate understands the demands of customer service and knows what they are getting into. I'm happy with anything in the service industry but I especially like to see jobs that touch the company's field (if it's a fashion company, then perhaps a job at the GAP; if it's a tech company, then a job at Best Buy; etc).

- Excellent written communication skills, detail-oriented. You'll be representing my brand. I need to know that I can trust you not to make mistakes, and to recover gracefully if you do. You had a typo in your question and wrote "oters" instead of "others," that would be a red flag for me. Make sure your resume is completely free of typos or grammatical errors.

- (Ideally) Some coursework or background in psychology, sociology, anthropology, education, or other fields that help you understand why people do what they do and how to shape their behavior. Because that's basically what you'll be asked to do: take a group of customers/members, understand how to make them happy, and then go do it.

If you are interested in a career in community management or social media, here are some things you can do:

- Read "Likeable Social Media" by Dave Kerpen. I have an entire bookshelf of other books that are useful in this field, but that one is a great starting point for understanding the industry and what companies/organizations are looking to do.

- Study the social media industry: look for "social media fails," read community manager blogs, etc.

- Look critically at every brand you see on social media. What are they doing well? What are they doing poorly? What works and what doesn't? Don't think like the brand, think like a customer. Does a post or message resonate with you – do you think the brand is cool? Or does it fall flat and read like "just another marketing post"? Why? Find some brands that you admire in their social media execution and figure out how they are achieving success.

- Understand that a career representing a brand on social media is completely different from being active on social media on your own time. You'll need to crunch numbers, understand why some posts were more effective than others, be able to translate your organization's message and goals into social media campaigns. You'll have people yell at you and you'll have to respond civilly. Community management and social media management can be incredibly rewarding, but the job can run 24/7 because online chatter never stops.

Answered 9 years ago

Sarah Price