Is It Time to Hire a Community Manager?
Your sales are skyrocketing, customers are pouring in, and it’s becoming difficult to keep up with all of the growth. This is a good problem to have, of course. But you should probably consider enlisting help, particularly when it comes to managing your online community.
What are some telltale signs that it’s time to let someone else be the “face” of your brand? Ask yourself:
- Are you spending more time answering customers’ questions than working on your improving your product or service?
- Are people interacting with and talking about your brand online?
- Do you no longer have time to update your company blog and social profiles at least once a day?
- Do you have the budget to hire an advocate for your brand?
If your answer to any or all of these questions is yes, it may be time to hire a community manager.
The role of community manager in corporate America is on the rise. According to a 2011 survey conducted by Booz & Co./Buddy Media, 63 percent of social media teams already have dedicated community managers [PDF], and 59 percent plan to hire for this role in the future.
Here’s how a community manager may benefit your small business.
Community management is an organic way to boost brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. It humanizes your brand and creates a closer connection with your customers. According to Social Bakers, 70 percent of questions asked of brands on social media go unanswered. This data shows a glaring need for community managers who can devote more time to this task.
Adding an in-house community manager to the team also frees up your time to focus on making your product the best it can be. He or she acts as the first line of defense in customer support, PR, and social media — the bridge of communication between you and your customers.
The community manager listens to customers, provides answers to questions, conducts meaningful conversations, and troubleshoots any problems on social media accounts. Overall, the manager’s role is designed to release pressure and lessen distractions for you.
Defining the Role
It takes a special kind of person to be an effective community manager. Hiring for the role shouldn’t be taken lightly. The tasks involved should not be assigned to an existing employee or an intern to do in their “spare time." Is there someone in your organization who has proven themselves but is in a mundane position? Are they social savvy, possess a strong marketing and customer service background and willing to take on this role full time? According to Arik Hanson, a leader in the PR industry, it also should not be outsourced, so you can keep control of the brand's voice and make it easier to liaise with customer support.
Because the community manager has a pivotal role in growing your business, your standards for candidates should be high but reasonable. They should be likable, excellent communicators, comfortable with technology, and highly analytical and detail-oriented. They should not be easily offended or prone to anger.
Candidates should also be extremely passionate about your brand. According to Social Fresh, 64 percent of community managers work more than 40 hours per week, and 24 percent work more than 50 hours.
Knowing who your community manager will report to is key. Having clearly defined goals will set both you and the manager up for success. Start by asking, What type of improvements do you want to see?
- Do you want to gain more followers?
- Are you after a higher rate of conversions?
- Do you seek more interaction with customers?
Failing to set these goals can be detrimental to your brand. Employees who don't have clear goals and expectations tend to make mistakes in scenarios where clear guidelines could prevent them.
Although the role of community manager can be exciting and rewarding for everyone involved, it can also be perceived as a difficult position in which to measure success. Because the manager will be primarily interacting with customers on social media, you can easily measure engagement through various tools, including Facebook Insights, @Connect or bit.ly for Twitter, and Pinterest Analytics. Tools such as Desk.com allow your community manager to provide more streamlined customer service.
Remember, success rarely happens overnight, so give your community manager time to get his or her feet wet. (Three months is normal.) You may also want to allow the manager time to establish trust with your customers before launching a huge marketing campaign. Let them find a footing in their role as they work to best carry out your marketing strategy.
Christina Jones is a business writer for Intuit who is passionate about solving small business problems.