I just read a blog post from Mashable‘s Jennifer Van Grove on “3 Qualities to Look for When Hiring a Community Manager“. Of course, this topic can be looked at from the other side of the equation, which led me to thinking about what qualities someone who wants to be a social media manager should have.
For the record, Van Grove lists 1) intellectual curiosity, 2) passion, and 3) knowledge of your business. I’d modify and expand this to:
1. You understand technology, but you love people. Social media technology is a means to an end, that end generally being to communicate effectively, build trust and foster community. The quiet geek in the corner who wears a reddit t-shirt, knows how to use any Twitter application ever invented, but never interacts with co-workers, probably isn’t the right person for the job.
Better would be the outgoing person who gets what social media can do and wants to use it to reach out to people — friends, customers, clients, people with similar interests, etc. If that’s you, don’t worry about whether you have sufficient “passion” for a social media manager’s job. You do.
2. You possess intellectual and emotional curiousity. Sure, you’re supposed to know stuff — your company’s business, details about products and services, problem resolution procedures, etc. — but your real strength is the desire and ability to look at things from another person’s perspective. Empathy. The best customer reps have it; for a social media manager, it’s imperative.
3. You’re thoughtful, not impulsive or reactive. Being a social media manager is about more than tweeting positive thoughts and virtual brand-building. There’s a lot of pressure. Many organizations aren’t totally sold on social media, measuring its impact (especially short-term) can be difficult, not all your co-workers may be “getting it,” and dealing with crises (or even just haters) can test your patience. If you can handle these types of things, you may be able to handle the stress that comes with being a social media manager.
4. You think strategically (and communicate the strategy). An effective social media manager understands an organization’s social media goals and attempts to measure results against them. Equally important, they know how to convey strategic goals to colleagues.
5. You are an ensemble player, not a diva. There are some giant egos in the social media business, a lot of self-proclaimed “gurus” who amass a lot of Twitter followers and land numerous speaking engagements. Many would make lousy social media managers because they see themselves as superstars or saviors. A good social media manager freely gives out credit for successes to teammates and accepts blame for failures.
Those are the qualities I’d consider to be most valuable in a social media manager. Let me know if there are any you think should be on the list.