These days, running a modern Web site doesn’t mean having a bunch of lowly paid (if they are even paid these days) writers who know how to hit the “submit” button on WordPress anymore. Today the position of community manager is essential, and if you don’t have one, now is the time to start thinking about hiring someone specifically for this position.
Community managers can make a big difference in your page views, if done right. You can leverage two to ten times the traffic if they know what they are doing. This is the magic elixir that SEO was promising back in the day, but never delivered. If you need justification to add a position to your staff and these page views matter to your business, then that should be a compelling argument. Look at how Slashdot, Tom’s Hardware.com and other tech-oriented brands have built their very extensive following, largely on the basis of their community interaction.
Certainly, the notion is as old as your first Compuserve Forum Manager back in the 1980s. But it is also picking up some steam lately. Witness the following posts as examples:
- Marketwire posted what it thinks makes for a good community manager here.
- Shirley Brady’s experience at BusinessWeek with crowdsourcing article suggestions here
- Vanessa DiMauro has some great points to make here
I have some other, more specific thoughts if you are actually going to hire a community manager:
- Someone who is ego-less and can actually have a discussion with your audience and agree with their point of view, and isn’t afraid to say so, no matter how outrageous. And sometimes the simplest questions can spark a fire (pun intended) with this post about how the trade association of EMS workers can get discussions going on their Facebook page on the most mundane topics
- Someone who knows your product/service space and can talk at the 30,000-foot view, and know where and from whom to get the details when the going gets techy.
- Someone who has the patience of a saint, who can wade through megabytes of rants without getting too much of a dander up.
- Someone who knows how to use Tweetdeck and at least ten other tools to analyze your Tweetstream. Who also really knows their way around Google Analytics or whatever your site uses.
- Someone who has been on LinkedIn for several years, since before those Harvard guys invented that MyFacespace thing. They need to natively speak the social media language, even if your audience doesn’t yet.
- Someone who isn’t afraid to test a lot of different ways, times, and methods of posting content to your site, and more importantly, understand the results and recommend decisions. We found out, for example, at ReadWriteWeb that autoposts to Facebook got half the traffic of manual ones.
- If you hire from within, find the person that runs your corporate newsletter or writes the most and best posts to your corporate blog. If you hire from without, look for these characteristics mentioned above and in the Marketwire post.