Why is it that companies struggle when filling such an important position?
There are typically four main reasons:
1. You don’t know who is legit when everyone who tweets or pins calls themselves a “community manager.”
2. The company doesn’t actually know what they want.
3. Someone can be a great CM but not for your community.
4. They try to hire someone who can build strategy on an entry level budget.
As a result of these four things, most companies that I speak to who know they need community help are completely lost on how to find the right person.
Over the past few years, I’ve helped place a number of community managers and have advised dozens of companies on how to find the right person.
Hopefully this guide helps you find the right person for your community position:
1. What are your actual needs? Are you even hiring for community?
This will solve the first two problems right away. It’s easy to know if you’ve found the right person if you’re super clear about what it is you actually need. Forget about titles.
Are you hiring someone to build a power user program? Then look for someone who has done that before.
Are you hiring someone to manage a forum? Seek out that experience.
Are you hiring for someone to do social media marketing? Then find someone who’s done that (and don’t call them a community manager when you hire them, thanks!)
2. Will this person be expected to develop strategy?
If yes, you have to pay them more than 30k/year.
You cannot hire someone with no experience, and expect them to develop a community strategy. Only hire someone entry level if you’re super clear about what the strategy is already and you just need someone to execute.
I was hired to run strategy for my first job. I sucked at it.
If you want someone who will understand the business goals and be able to build a program to accomplish those goals, you’re looking for someone with 3+ years of experience.
If you want someone who will build out and manage a team of community managers, you probably want someone with 5+ years of experience.
These are just numbers based on what I’ve seen work, that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work.
3. What qualities should you look for in a community manager?
I always look for someone who is very social, can connect people with each other, maintains a level head, has a healthy sense of humor and has an analytical mind.
That last one is important. There are a lot of people who can talk to people. There are few that can also tie that back to real metrics.
4. Job descriptions
My only advice here is to try to be specific. Take your time to figure out the answer to #1 and get real tight about what your actual needs are.
The worst CM job descriptions I’ve seen will overwhelm you with vague requirements that span across multiple roles. We need someone who can manage our social media accounts (what does that mean?), who can be the voice of the brand (what?), who is passionate about food (why?) and who has a proven track record building community (not sure what that means).
Be specific and make it clear where the community manager will live within the company.
5. Where to look
This is a fun one! You could look for people who already have experience as a community manager. Or you can look somewhere unexpected.
Personally, I’d rather hire someone who understands business strategy, has a clear understanding of human beings and is sincerely interested in the topic to run my community than someone who claims to be a good fit because they’re a “digital native”.
They can be anywhere! They can be an existing employee. Just remember, know what your goals are, and look for the best possible person to help you achieve those goals.
Now go and find a badass.
If you need help, David [at] thecommunitymanager.com. I like helping.