Does Your Business Need a Community Manager?

Attention employees: we have a new exciting position opening up! It's called the Director of Online Friendships. It doesn't pay anymore and it might require some weekend work. Who wants a new challenge?

Attention employees: we have a new exciting position opening up! It's called the Director of Online Friendships. It doesn't include a pay raise and it might require some weekend work. Who wants a new challenge?

How large is your business? Maybe you’re a one man (or woman) sole proprietor or perhaps you’re part of a company with 20,000 employees operating out of 15 different countries. Perhaps you fall somewhere in between. Nonetheless, I’m going to make a general assumption that you care or are at least semi interested in social networking tools and their potential to connect you with your current and potential customer base (or maybe you’re just here for some SEO tips?).

For those ready to get serious about community building, you’ll eventually have to decide who’s in charge of it. Someone has to clean the restrooms, someone has to do the accounting, and someone (or a group of people) has to be in charge of interacting with customers on the web. Anyone who has been in business for any amount of time knows that if work doesn’t get assigned to someone then it might not actually get done. It’s funny how things can slip under the radar.

Me or you?

If you’re just one person then the choice is somewhat easy. It’s either going to be me or you. Me as in Sparkplug Digital, another online marketing firm, or an individual such as myself who does freelance work. All of these options are going to require at least some small financial investment on your part. Maybe you’re working 60 hours a week and don’t have a lot of time to spare. Maybe you have time to spare, but lack discipline to be constructive with it (I’m betting this group is larger then you might think) or maybe all you want is to hire a professional who can promise results. Hiring a marketing company to run a campaign for you could be the best option. Shameless self promotion: for a free quote on some of the services Sparkplug Digital offers, send an email to info@sparkplugdigital.com.

Instead of a financial investment you can choose to make an investment of your time and perform all the necessary tasks yourself. Updating a blog, creating a YouTube video, and managing a Facebook account are all going to take time. For some this is a great option. Unfortunately for others it doesn’t always yield the desired results. Only you can decide what’s best for you and your business.

Someone else?

Do you have a business partner? Do you have employees? Do you have a fourteen year old daughter who spends three hours a day on Myspace? You might have a plethora of candidates to choose from. Someone in your organization might even be nice enough to step up and volunteer. If not, someone might get the title of “professional tweeter” forcefully added onto their job description. I’ve seen it happen before. One day you’re a salesperson for the company, the next day you receive an email from your manager saying you should probably be more productive with your time and create a blog. Panic ensues as you try and find out what a blog is and what to put on it.

Who is qualified?

Having multiple people to choose from can be a double edged sword. The upside is you have more choices. The downside is that you have more choices. Who is best for the job? Are we going to pay an employee more to do this? Is it going to be mandatory? Will one person be adequate or should multiple people share the responsibilities?

Who will this person be?

A customer service rep? The receptionist? The CEO? All of the above?

Somebody new?

You might have exhausted all the options: I don’t have time for it, I don’t want to hire an outside company to help, and nobody on the payroll is qualified.

Time for a Craigslist add?

Maybe… Craigslist is a funny and sometimes strange place, but many qualified and unqualified people browse through it on a daily basis. If you’re anything like me, then I’m sure you’ve run into great and not so great Craigslist opportunities. It’s fast and easy and you just might find your next superstar community manager on it. Or… you might interview 10 people and hire someone who ends up quitting in three months after spending a majority of his on the clock time watching YouTube videos and accomplishing very little.

Why did I read this article?

To get to this point: Keep asking questions.

Never be afraid of asking questions.

Before appointing a community manager from the inside or outside here are some realistic ones to get you started:

  • Should I handle all of, part of, or none of the community building activities?

  • What qualifications should this person (or myself) have?

  • Will this be a full time, part time, or on my weekend time type of position?

  • How much is it going to cost? In time? In financial investment?

  • Will one person or multiple people handle the responsibilities?

  • What tools will we use to measure progress or lack there of?

  • Does the community manager know how to build relationships or just twitter followers?

  • Where will I find this person?

  • How will I help teach this person? How will I teach myself?

  • Does this person actually care about my business? Are they passionate about it?

  • Is this person (or myself) willing to put in a 110% type of effort?

What do you think? What questions would you ask?

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