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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.

Patricio Robles

Published 26 July, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2378 more posts from this author

Comments (11)

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Jenni

You're not kidding, I get least one recruiter a week contacting me about social media jobs via LinkedIn. If you're looking for a job then make sure you're active there and join plenty of related groups.

almost 5 years ago

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Carol Lawrence

As a social media manager I was very impressed with this article. The need for social media managers is only going to grow. Now you can add Google + to the list of popular social media sites. Need more time to play with your kids, write your next novel or manage your business? Hire a social media manager.

almost 5 years ago

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Matthew Read

I think it will be interesting to see where these Social Media Managers will actually end up working! Will it be for PR Agencies, SEO Agencies or Client Side?

Social Media is being looked at by all 3 and as yet it seems unclear where it will end up gravitating towards.

almost 5 years ago

Guy Harvey

Guy Harvey, Marketing Consultant - Social Media and Media Relations at Human Factors International

As a community manager I feel this is good news! Jenni, thanks for the tips. I am very happy with my job but good to know.

Sense of humor is important. I try to bring fun to our social media channels even laughing at ourselves. The community seems to like it.

Multitasking: you are not kidding. I am the social media strategist and community manager and takes some organization to manage all the various channels.

Leadership is also important. You have to be able to spread social media deeper into the company.

almost 5 years ago

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nelson doyle

i just came by your article and it get my attention. i thought I'd leave my first comment just to appreciate the hard work you done.

almost 5 years ago

Tamara Littleton

Tamara Littleton, CEO at EmoderationSmall Business Multi-user

We're one of the agencies who offer community management as part of our service. We had a great internal discussion the other day, attempting to come up with the best definition of an eModeration community manager's role: there were some really excellent suggestions, but the two I liked best (thanks Jessica & Judy) were these:

"Community management is creating delightful, helpful and engaging content, organising activities online, and applying the community rules. The goal is to set up the brand image with its personality and provide interesting and helpful resource to attract people in. "

"Community management provides support to the brand and community
members equally and simultaneously within client and eModeration
defined guidelines in order to achieve the client's as well as the
community member's goal."

Obviously our viewpoints were a little different from those who run their own communities because we are standing between the community owner (the brand) and the members. What would be your definition of the role?

almost 5 years ago

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MM

Its clear its unclear the department within an organisation that this role/remit resides - Is it Marketing (and if so who, the Director?), Corp Comms, Internal Comms, External Comms, Media Relations (or PR as it commonly seems to be refered to), What of CRM? In the real world it is these teams that liaise with clients, keep them informed of new products/services, answer their questions and also nuture prospects - Is there not a strong case to say it should to an extent, reside here too? OR is it a case of the organisation firstly breaking down the 'conversation' types and assigning e.g. talk between journalists to the press officer, discussion about products to CRM etc.

almost 5 years ago

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Sue

Great article but I would say that Social Media managers are hired to manage social media, not Community Managers. They are often the same jockey, because one person may fulfill both position, but in my opinion they are different roles.

almost 5 years ago

Guy Harvey

Guy Harvey, Marketing Consultant - Social Media and Media Relations at Human Factors International

Sue,
I think its mainly a difference between strategic and management roles. Our company is small - 175 people. I work with the marketing director and the president to create a social media strategy. I do everything from developing concepts for youtube videos and managing production, to moderating our two Ning communities, Twitter and Facebook channels.

One thing I've noticed is that I am maxed in terms of management. I think we have a good opportunity with LinkedIn but I don't think I can do justice to Twitter and Youtube if I take on the management of another channel so I am looking for a champion maybe for LinkedIN.

almost 5 years ago

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Lace Llanora

Hi Patricio,

Thanks for writing this. I agree that companies need to allocate resources (human at that) when it comes to social media marketing. Although I would encourage leaders to be abreast with what's happening online even if they employ or outsource to a social media manager.

To add to the qualities, being keen on research and learning is vital for such role. Social networks for instance change incessantly and sometimes with a blink of an eye. Social media managers should be knowledgeable, dedicated, and passionate on the industry they work around in.

almost 5 years ago

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Jenn Pedde

This was a great read. I really think that the role of community manager is going to spread like wildfire. I've already seen a significant jump in the past year, and the role is skewing younger as well. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a jump in community manager assistants to help the veterans in whatever responsibilities they have. For anyone wanting to talk more about this, I encourage you to join the Community Manager Twitter Chat, #cmgrchat, on Wednesdays at 2pm EST.

almost 5 years ago

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