You can tell a lot from Community Manager Job Descriptions

Not that long ago, I posted some thoughts on Latham & Watkins hiring a Social Media Specialist, and how the job description started with the position’s compensation and also observed that “job description implies they’ve given some thought to the Social Media Specialist position.” Having read quite a few job descriptions, I’ve come to the conclusion that you can tell a lot about what a company thinks of Community Management by its Community Manager job description.

Ones that are cookie-cutter, use all the write keywords, like “content strategy,” “actively engage,” “build brand visibility” and pretty much any others you’ve read in other marketing or communications-related job descriptions. The differentiating factor between “community manager” and “communications manager” seems to be the use of social media. Heavy use of social media, to be more precise. I’ve come to use The New Community Manager Profile, from Edelman Digital, as the yard stick for evaluating Community Manager positions before forwarding such openings to friends or people I know, still out of work and for whom there might be a good fit.

And you can get a good sense of a company’s take on strategic, social and project management experience for a Community Manager, and whether the company sees it as a long-term endeavor or is merely looking to capitalize on the latest craze. I’ve noticed that most of the Community Manager job descriptions follow the same template, as it were. Do a search on Monster or CareerBuilder, and you’ll find a number of “Community Manager” openings that, except for the company name, sound an awful lot alike.  They all make an assumption, too: you either know the market, or can quickly learn the nuances of the audience. And that is where companies that take community management, and Community Managers, seriously, distinguish themselves.

One example is a Community Manager position with salesforce.com. It reads, in part:

This position stewards any content that’s thought-leadership and social media industry related and oversees the blog, webinars, podcasts, ebooks, whitepapers, case studies, client profiles – anything that helps contribute valuable, educational content to our community and customers around the social media space.

Thought-leadership. Social media industry related. Valuable, education content to its community. Its community of cloud-based users. It sets the expectation parameters of the position, and spells out exactly its audience and audience expectations. And then it says:

This position also has a limited Community Manager role and does plenty of participation in the community to understand what questions and issues folks are talking about around social media, and writes/manages content contributors to ensure Salesforce has stocked and current resource library. This positions answers questions, contributes to the larger dialogue through blog comments, and participates in Salesforce outpost communities (mainly Twitter, blogs, and LinkedIn).

Translation: active engagement. Instead of using the buzzword, salesforce.com actually describes what that means! But wait, there’s more!

This role is dedicated to manning the main monitoring post for the Salesforce brand, and ensuring that those posts get to the right members of the team for engagement and response. This person’s job is to filter the posts as they come in using the Radian6 engagement console and workflow, properly tag, classify, and assign them according to our engagement playbook (which they also maintain and keep up to date to ensure consistent practices among our team). This role also includes analysis of activity in the form of reports on team activities and trends, and some direct engagement for specific types of requests for information that come in. It’s a pivotal role on the Community team, and ensures that we are always timely and present with our responses.

Translation: teamwork (cue The Wonder Pets). Another buzzword described!

Community Management is not necessarily a one person show. There are times when you simply can’t answer a question or handle a situation because you are not equipped to do so, and you are not supposed to be equipped to do so. Such situations can be anything from technical issues to sales inquiries to something random or unexpected that requires putting heads together for a solution. Companies that take community management, and Community Managers, seriously, understand this. Community Managers can be the touch point for the greater community (read: user base), and it’s important that both Community Managers and the rest of the company understand this, and the importance of the role. As the Community Manager becomes educated on the finer points of the company, product(s), etc., more of the load, be it Support, tech, sales, etc., can be shared. That 30-second “click the Export button” question can be answered by the Community Manager, saving the Support team 30-seconds it can then devote to a more complicated question.

So if you’re looking for a Community Manager position or are responsible for writing the job description, keep these things in mind. As a job candidate, asking questions during the interview might be able to help fill in the gaps from the job description. And if you’re responsible for writing the job description, asking questions ahead of time might help make the hiring process a little easier.

From either side, clarity and direction for community management can help find the best match, and ensure the community remains engaged and continues to grow.

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