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Published April 11th 2014

The Best Community Managers Have These 5 Traits

We list the top 5 traits of community managers and delve into what it takes to become the best and most successful community managers.

Do you have an unfaltering attention to detail? Stellar sense of humour? Penchant for puns?

In the newest entry in our mini-series on community management, we tackle the traits community managers need to have in order to get a handle on the brand, the community, the product and the newest trends.

A community manager’s role covers a mix of customer service, marketing, PR and brand evangelism. It’s no wonder our expert interviewees couldn’t agree on one, single import trait.

So, here’s the top five five traits of successful community managers.


1. Empathy

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Despite the range of important characteristics, one kept popping up time and time again: empathy.

Call it compassion, emotional intelligence, or ‘how not to be a jerk’, everyone seemed to agree that community managers must have the ability to understand and share in the feeling of their communities.

Dealing with criticisms and concerns is a tricky tightrope to walk. Side too much with the company and you alienate your audience, side too much with the audience… and you’re not really doing your job!

Rebecca Braglio, community manager at Pet360, explains“the ability to resolve conflict while making your community members feel heard and valued” is instrumental in community management success.

If a CM can’t understand what makes a group ‘tick’ – or worse, what ticks them off – they’ve got no hope at fostering a strong relationship.

“The best community managers, in my experience, have a deep fondness for uniqueness and eccentricity in other human beings” said Jelena Woehr, who’s is the director of community at GOOD.

No matter who is engaging with your brand, you’ve got be as excited about them as they are about you!


2. Communication

 

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Empathy is great, but if you’re a blathering tweeter with a tendency to make social faux-pas, you’re not going to do a great job.

“You must have empathy, but without knowing how to communicate with your community, peers and executives, it is left as that,” said Tim McDonald, Director of Community at Huffington Post.

Community managers may often have a background in journalism, blogging or just a history of making very long forum posts.

But flawless grammar and on-point spelling, while useful, does not a community manager make. You’ve got the master lingo of the audience you’re speaking to in order to achieve the greatest impact.

McDonald continued: “when you speak the language of those you are delivering the message to, you have gained the opportunity to be heard.”


3. Passion

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In an ideal world, all community managers are driven to their jobs through an undying love of the brand. However, that’s not always the case.

But, when you’re talking about a product your whole work day, you had better be jazzed about it.

False, half-hearted passion tends to show, driving the community toward disenchantment. You need to show how you love your brand.

“For some CMs that’s easy because they get to work for a brand they’re totally head over heels nuts about anyway, “ said Woehr.

“You won’t always have that good fortune, so you need to find genuine, moving reasons to love and identify with any brand you’re representing”


4. Thick Skin

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A lot of our community managers also noted that ‘patience’ was a key factor.

As Head of Community at Payoneer, Nissim Alkobi states patience is essential “both when managing your community and also when representing it internally to your company”.

As community managers, you’ll be the first to hear your community’s ‘constructive criticisms’.

Often, as the internet is a harsh place, that might take the form of abuse. Passions can run high, and you can feel the brunt of product dissatisfaction.

“Many fans online voice their frustration with a product or issue and direct their anger towards me as the brand online,” said Katrina Steffensen, Community Manager for Gatorade. 

“Sometimes it’s upsetting and I have to remember to be patient—these people don’t know it’s a real human on the other side who isn’t responsible for their issue.”


5. Creativity

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As an ever-flowing font of wit, insight and on-brand humour, community managers should be able to chase the tangled threads in the mind to deliver something unique.

While puns are greats, sometimes they just won’t cut it.

“If you can create witty, smart, and personalized responses, you’ll be successful at talking to your following,” said Steffensen.

That doesn’t mean all community managers should be bestselling wordsmiths. Using images, vines and other media are crucial to keeping your community excited and engaged.

Alex Pollock, Global Community Manager at Castrol, values innovation and ingenuity above all other values: “I would encourage steering away from ‘the plan’ when called upon.”

Be flexible, too. It’s all well and good spending weeks cleverly weaving your product into Kanye’s hot new tracks – but if Beyoncé drops her album the day you were set to go live, you’re going to look a little dated.

“You never know what will happen that day on social media so it’s crucial to be ready to respond or have to change messaging,“ said Steffensen.

“Time is of the essence in social. If you don’t act in real time, you may miss out on important moments.”

All this and more

 

Check that you’ve got all these traits, and you’ll be well on your way to community management euphoria.

 
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During our interviews, attention to detail, flexibility and good time management all features heavily in addition to a number of other skills, but those above were the most prevalent.

Community managers are expected to keep a lot of plates spinning and you need a talented individual to pull it all off.

Keep your eyes on the blog for the rest of our next post on the top tools for community management.