Community Manager Jobs Grow On Trees

Community Manager is a funny title. 

When I first started doing this social media headhunting, community manager was the only pure social media job out there. It's role was similar to running a forum, with the additional duties of adding in new ways for people to communicate (the social part). 

That's now what it means today. To some extent, community managers are now more numerous as content creators and aggregators then true, peer-to-peer moderators in a closed forum. If the title community manager now means social media content manager for 80% of the jobs, shouldn't we wave the white flag and admit that the old-school community managers need to come up with a new title? 

I only say this because I've been sourcing community managers for two different companies, and 95% of the people I see wouldn't fit either job without a lot of pushing. I mean, sure, the roles are somewhat the same, but trying to make  social media content aggregator contractor into a old-school community manager is a bit like trying to get two dogs into a bathtub. Everytime you think you have one part sealed in, something else comes out that ruins the search. 

Don't think I'm complaning. I actually live talking with community managers of all stripes.  The growth in this field and the wide array of metrics and expectations open my mind up to the incredible possibilites of a good community. In some ways, it even reminds me of what I should have kept at years ago. 

We should probably address the difference. I have this fancy 3d cube animation, but it's not ready yet, so you'll have to wait for it to appear, but there's the basic difference. 

Old School Community Manager: Job is to create or manage a critical mass of individuals who share an interest in a product, skillset, or industry. This is not a metrics driven job. This is not a leadership job. It's a moderator/facilitator with the air of authority but not the presumption of authority. You need to be able to smack down trolling and negative behavior, but you can't actually rule the roost. You need to coax people into sharing their thoughts without actually doing the work for them.

I'm looking for these people in Austin, by the way, so contact me. 

Social Media Content Manager: You either write posts, columns, tweets, updates, and pics, or you take other people's work and aggregate it. Your goal is to drive eyeballs and time to your site like a traditional marketer, but you're supposed to do so in a way that is personal. But also scalable. And engaging. And funny, but not too funny.  

This is the bulk of positions and job postings out there. It tends to be junior people, with the occasional senior thrown in as a digital strategist. 

PR/Customer Support Community Manager:  Your job is to fight fires, make people happy, make sure that those who want to talk to the company know they're being heard, and in some cases, you're actually trained a product support specialist (which is a nice way of saying salesperson). You can be in a Jive community or on Twitter or on the phone, but it's the same job. 

It will be interesting to see where this title goes. Far too many Community Managers are creating content no one sees or engages in. That's not a sustainable business model, and the fake metrics we've used for years won't hold up over time. This is one of the reasons I tell entry level people not to take social media jobs - they're not learning anything but noise making in most instances. 

And that other job? That's a remote community manager role for a giant brand, but I don't want to post it, because I don't want hundreds of people sending me the wrong kind of resumes. But if you see me clicking on your profile, you might ask why. 

Empire Avenue Metrics: Twitter Follower Growth

Just a quick note.  I add about 100 Twitter Followers a month, on a pretty steady basis over six months. Since joining Empire Avenue one month ago, I saw a spike, and in the last month, have added about 200 followers.  I went to a conference mid-month, which spiked me somewhat, but I had already added 72 followers prior to the conference. 

For the first month, it's fair to say I'm adding followers at a rate of 140-150 followers a month, as the rate of adds stabilized to the pre-conference rate within four days. 

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I pulled this  graph from Twitter Counter to show the difference. It's not statistically significant yet, but I'll keep tracking it to show you the difference.  The other picture here is from my Twitter advisor, Declan, under stats on the Empire Dashboard. 

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The stats don't fully add up - as I'm not sure when the week starts, but using the advisor does help you track your personal activity in terms of followers and tweets, on a week by week basis.  of note is that RT's of me have gone up 54%, and total mentions have improved by 34%, in the last week. 

A second advisor, Kesley (these are algorithms you can unlock inside Empire Avenue under the stats board), tells me hashtags, most retweets, most posts retweeted, and the people with whom I've connecting the most.  It's about half and half Empire and other users.  The "engagement" for all groups has gone up significantly since my joining.   

Why is this important?  It brings me instant feedback on my social activity, from a place I'm frequenting multiple times a day.  It allows me to see, to actually look at the difference between  quality and quantity, and as an outside check that both are high.  If I see that I haven't made any posts on Facebook in a week, I can alter my behavior (and it happens, as you get caught up reading). 

More initial passes on the impact of Empire Avenue on social activity to come. Please share your anecdotal thoughts in comments, and let me know if you write it up on your blogs. 

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#MyQuora Answer: Lots Of Twitter Followers Can Make You Powerful

A question on Quora follows the track of influence, asking what exactly makes someone super influential on Twitter.  Most of the responders wrote in the now familiar "social media" tone about influence not being about numbers, and how it's about real world connection and not just rankings and numbers.

I vehemently disagree.  Failing to understand the power of the network effect is the single biggest mistake social media professionals make in discussing what social media is capable of.  While numbers don't always lead to influence, or the actions we may we want, sheer numbers of followers is a very useful tool, especially on Twitter. Here's one of the examples I use when speaking on social networks:

You're in a room with a hundred people, and you have a microphone and a spotlight that follows you around, and no one else does. You can ask simple questions, and get answers that no one else can get, simply by virtue of the fact that you have the microphone and the spotlight.

Say I ask for a volunteer looking for a job. I know nothing about the person, but if I have the microphone, I can put the spotlight on that one person and direct the attention of the room to him. I can't vouch for him. I can't refer him with confidence. But I can point him out. That has value.

Suppose a former manager across the room knows the unemployed guy and is able to vouch for him, but they didn't know he was looking. My focus on the unemployed guy leads the guy across the room to stand up. I go over to him, and let the former manager vouch out loud to the group.

A woman up front is looking for a hire. She does not know the former manager, but knows the company he works for. His strong referral leads her to contact the unemployed person and arrange an interview.

I knew no one there. I knew nothing of any of three. I merely had a microphone and the attention of the room. And through that, I was highly influential.

And now, by the way, I have a room of 100 people who think I'm influential, who like me because I helped out others, and they are more likely to refer me and my services, even though I didn't actually have influence when I started.

By the way, that's a lot more impressive to do in person, than to read about.  Get a large enough crowd and you can demonstrate it live. 

What I just described happens on Twitter all of the time.  The reach of large numbers of followers leads to a greater chance that the people you can reach will have the answers others in that network need.  Doing so on Twitter means you can connect people quickly and with little effort, even if you have never used the account for such purposes. 

If you were starting a new account, which would you rather have, 100,000 Twitter followers, or 6?  Don't tell me you'd go with 6 if they were Jason Falls, Jeremiah Owyang and Brian Solis and Charlene Li and Charlie Sheen and Seth Godin.  One, that ain't happening, and two, those people follow a lot of folks too, which means your message can be washed out.  But with 100,000 followers, the network effect is so big, you can mold those followers into an online army of mutual benefit, especially if you start helping people in your network.

The problem we often run into in social media is trying to degrade the notion that bigger is better, despite the fact that all of us can appreciate those who have built large followings.  That's a throwback the original blogger ethos, which suggested that trying to make money online was immoral (and foolish).  That's just not true anymore.  I'm not sure it ever was.  Back in the olden days, affiliate marketers made billions of dollars gathering giant lists of our emails, many of which were bad emails, or for people that would never buy a product.  And yet, those large lists allowed the affiliate marketers to play in the big leagues with major brands, ultimately getting their hands on better lists, and making even more money.

 Even a bad list, if large enough, can turn into a good list if it's used properly.  A small list, no matter how filled with experts, still has a more limited range.  Like it or not, we don't get to work in the perfect world dreamt of by social consultants.  Stating that an engaged, perfect audience made up of only interested buyers is an ideal marketing solution is a bit like saying San Diego has nice weather.  Most of us don't live in San Diego, and never will. 

Big matters.  Bigger matters more.  In our mad rush to declare social the new way to market, let's not lose sight of the, uh, bigger picture - which is that having a large network allows us access to more information and more connection than a smaller one.

Don't tell me numbers don't matter.  You can say it feels icky, and you can say you're envious, and you can work to improve the content and quality.  Just don't lie to yourself that getting more followers isn't a foundation for pushing the bounds of social media.  It makes me think you're selling something, badly.