Sunday, May 02, 2010

Hiring A Social Media or Community Manager?

This blog post is cross-posted from Community Roundtable with their Permission

Hiring A Social Media or Community Manager?

by Rachel Happe on January 18, 2010

ShareWe recently had a member call on Hiring for Community Management and also discussed the topic at last week’s #TheCRLive. It’s a hot topic for a variety of reasons. There is growing interest in the field and growing demand for community managers. Our members’ had some additional perspectives:

Community an social media management job descriptions vary widely with little consistency

There are a number of business functions and processes that community managers can support but often the specifics are also inconsistently articulated in job descriptions

Expectations of community manager roles and compensation are not very well aligned

Hiring organizations don’t necessarily know what is reasonable to expect from different levels of community managers or are not always able to identify the level of experience they need

The attributes of community managers are often more important than the skills or experience but that is not the way most organizations hire

Because Community Roundtable members like Rachel Makool, Dawn Lacallade, and Amber Naslund have more experience than most with regards to hiring community managers we think there is an opportunity to work with our members to develop baseline job descriptions and salary ranges for the following positions:

Social Media Expert


Community Manager

Director of Community

VP of Social/Community

Like any other type of organizational role, as the position becomes more senior, more strategy/planning/management responsibilities are included and compensation should rise accordingly. We see a lot of job recs being posted that are looking for people with 1-3 years of experience compensated for at that level but also wanting those people to own the social strategy, policies, and internal evangalism. The effort to find a good match for that rec is likely to be frustrating – while there are plenty of young and ambitious potential employees that understand social software tools very well and are eager to take on an organization’s social initiative, they may not have the management and organizational experience needed to effectively champion and execute the strategy. Those young people who do have the skills to build and execute a new organizational strategy are like their more experienced peers in knowing that it deserves a higher level of compensation.

There are two problems causing even further frustration. The first problem is that many social initiatives right now are pilot or new initiatives that just barely have the funding for one junior position who may not have the business and management experience necessary to be successful. This is a chicken and egg problem – without an experienced community manager, the initiative may not be successful but the organization can’t afford an experienced person until the initiative is successful. The second problem is that for those organizations that realize they need a mid-level to senior person to develop and execute an appropriate social strategy, there is a fairly small group of individuals with that experience and very often not in the location needed.

There are a few ways organizations can manage this situation:

Hire consultants. Many experienced community managers have become consultants (Rachel Makool, Sean O’Driscoll, Jake McKee, Janet Fouts, and Dawn Foster are examples) and are in demand for helping companies navigate the transition from pilot to operational communities.

Outsource moderation and/or community management. eModeration, Tempero, LiveWorld, Fresh Networks, and Impact Interactions all offer some combination of moderation and community management. These services can help companies who are starting out, exploring, and experimenting. In particular, moderation is often outsourced completely as needs often fluctuate significantly over time.

Spend time seeking out and investing in understanding the most effective use of human resources. Human resources are critical to the success of a social initiatives but if the role and responsibilities are not clear and appropriately aligned, it can lead to a lot of frustration on both the part of the organization and on the part of employee. The more the hiring manager understands, the better off the outcomes will be. Consultants, training, and services like ours can help tremendously with understanding how to effectively hire and use community management.