Community management is a relatively new role in the ever-evolving world of the web.  In fact, when doing research for this article, the definition of community management had a lot more to do with real estate and apartment buildings than social media and the Internet.  In this ever-evolving space, how do we know what it is we are supposed to be doing, let alone how we can do it better?  With a bit of trial and error, and a whole lot of energy and love for the game, we’ve come up with a few key elements that make up a great community manager:

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  • the ability to sense a shift in the force. Not that force, silly.  Changes in the energy or vibes that members of the community put off should not be brushed off.  The best communities are positive, have a sense of trust, and include a group of members that want to be a part of that community.  One or two trolls can upset the balance quickly, and an effective community manager needs to be ready to keep things positive and constructive.
  • great people skills.  The famous ‘dealing with the engineers so the customers don’t have to’ scene in Office Space probably rang true with just about anyone who has worked in technology.  Not that engineers don’t have great personalities, or that customers don’t know what to do with technical conversations, but there’s something to be said for a bit of finesse on both sides of the conversation.  Knowing who you’re working with, and how to speak with them can go very far in both achieving goals and conflict resolution.  Communication through a keyboard is not always as easy as face to face communication, and meanings can easily be confused or construed.  Being aware of who your audience is, and tailoring your communication style to them is an invaluable skill in any industry.
  • evangelist level love. If you don’t support your business 100%, don’t bother.  A truly great community manager is fully invested in the company they work with.  Believing in what you do and loving your brand shines through in all aspects of work, but especially in online communities.  The best way to get your customers behind your brand is to show them how much you love it.
  • adaptability.  In the ever-changing world of social media, the ability to adapt quickly and effectively is arguably one of the most critical skills one can possess.  Stuck in your ways?  Prepare to be passed by quickly.  You never know what  may be thrown your way, being able to react calmly and quickly to any situation is an invaluable skill.
  • passion for knowledge.  As we have stated many times, social media is an ever-evolving world.  Community managers should have a love of learning and know that there will rarely be a day that they won’t learn something new.  Embracing this early is key.
  • the ability to share the love. People love public recognition and knowing that their voices are being heard.  Using a platform to thank members of your community for sharing information or recommending your business promotes further sharing.  Making users feel special is one of the most effective ways of engaging your community and bringing people together.
  • a whole lotta patience. Knowing when to jump into a conversation and when to stand back a bit, when to publish a post, and when to share information is not always easy.  Sometimes, holding off can pay off in a big way.  When someone badmouths your brand, seeing your community stand up and take action holds far more weight with potential customers and partners than watching you engage in battle to defend your name.  It will also make your heart swell, knowing that your community loves your brand as much as you do.  Knowing when to hold off on publishing content that you’re excited about is also a great skill. Your mind blowing piece on increasing your follower count may not be as well received on a day that it has to compete with other big news -whether that be industry news or national news, it’s imperative that you plan the best time for your content to shine.

Whether you’re managing a major brand or a home-based business, effective community management is critical to building and maintaining your brand.  What skills do you think make the best community managers?

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