Social media is all about people, and as social role’s prominence as a business tool continues to grow, and according to software provider EPiServer, there will soon be substantial growth in the number of people — ‘community managers’ — who are hired to manage social media.

In a survey of 250 senior marketing executives in the UK, EPiServer
found that nearly three-quarters of companies are involved with online
communities or planned to be within the next 12 months.

As would be
expected, much of the activity in this area is taking place on popular
third party-owned sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Somebody has to man the fort on these social networks, and over half of the respondents using social media currently task a marketing executive with the job, while approximately 42% leave the task to either a PR person or IT staff member.

Less than 2% of those surveyed have outsourced their social media management to an agency.

Managing online communities, of course, isn’t always easy. The marketing executives surveyed cite numerous challenges, from attracting members to creating content to dealing with criticism.

Not surprisingly, a growing number of companies are creating dedicated roles to meet the challenges. Over a quarter of the companies represented in EPiServer’s poll already employ a community manager, and 41% expect to within the next year.

That should be good news for those looking for jobs in the social media universe, but there will no doubt be lots of competition for positions in this space, possibly making it difficult for companies to select the right candidates.

Here, EPiServer recommends that companies look for the following in prospective community managers:

  • Multitasking capabilities.
  • Good writing skills.
  • Patience.
  • People skills.
  • Technical prowess.
  • Flexibility.
  • A good sense of humour.
  • Dedication.

The challenge, of course, is that many of these things are soft skills, which aren’t always easy to judge. Hiring decisions which are based on soft skills generally carry more risk as a result, but companies will naturally want to minimize risk when it comes to who represents them in the social media realm. After all, one big blunder can create lots of headaches.

The good news is that, if the growth in the number of community managers comes to pass, in a few years’ time, there will be a pool of employees with proven experience from which companies can recruit talent.