Over the past 2 years, the relatively close knit blog universe has exploded in a massive confluence of social expression and corporate reaction. A cottage industry of owner-operators, trawling social media on behalf of themselves and others, has cropped up in lofts, dorms, agencies and iPhones.

These are the new social media Community Managers and corporate is clearly looking. This post offers a granular look at crucial skills, essential duties and a job description for the CM role.

“That cottage industry will become as important as PR, Marketing, Customer Service, Sales.”
-Lee Odden-

Often the key to integrating social media into the marketing mix is about not hiring immediately, but rather sharing CM duties cross departments. That said, there comes a time in many a’ company’s evolution that bringing in a full time hands-on Community Manager makes sense. What type of person should you hire? I put that questions to our friend Lisa Barone, noted SEM industry blogger/Social Media Addict/Evangelist.

She says, “Hire someone who is addicted to the conversation and will be around on the weekends to approve comments, continue discussions and put out fires when needed. 9 to 5’ers need not apply. Make sure they have a thick skin. When you’re managing a community, attacks will come and someone will always have a problem with what you’re doing.

They need to know when to step up, when to say nothing and how to steer conversations down constructive paths. Above all, make sure it’s someone you trust with your brand. They’re going to be your eyes and ears into what’s happening. “Don’t hire someone with a rock star complex.
-Lisa Barone-

Now I’ll put my human resources hat on and offer up our job description for Community Manager. Please feel free to use any part of it and adapt as you see fit. If any readers would like to contribute ideas, you’re invited to do so in the comments thread.
Community Manager Job Description

Do you tweet and use Facebook every day, all day? Is building social community so ingrained you just can’t stop? Do you take pride in customer service excellence and fancy yourself an entrepreneur? Do you understand the difference between a “brochure website,” a “publication” and why feeds are important?

We seek a highly a motivated individual with experience and fanatical passion for blogging, micro-blogging and community participation leadership. This position is full time salaried with benefits, including attending mainstream and niche’ conferences.

We are a [your company description here] in [city, state] with an national reputation for [your company mission here] mission. We promote our website by integrated organic optimization (SEO), social media optimization (SMO) and paid placement (PPC). Our Reputation Monitoring & Management objectives are comprehensive.

The successful candidate will join our internal marketing team at the managerial level, and interact with an external Search Marketing agency. Our Community Manager/Blogger will oversee and contribute recurrent content to holistically support our customers and corporate objectives.

Qualifications and Experience

  • Has a bachelor’s or associates degree in music, advertising, marketing, graphics, web development, communications, English, IT, music, theater, anthropology, history or related.
  • Excels at research, possesses excellent writing skills and the ability to crank editorial and technical writing output without brooding.
  • Has work experience or training in advertising, PR, online marketing or similar field
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office products.
  • Dedicated to blogging and use of Facebook
  • Understands the power of feed marketing
  • Demonstrated creativity and documented immersion in social media (really send the links)
  • Demonstrated ability to map out a marketing strategy and then drive that strategy proven by testing and metrics
  • Experience sourcing and managing content development and publishing
  • Ability to jump from the creative side of marketing to analytical side, able to demonstrate why their ideas are analytically sound
  • Management experience or obviously ready for promotion to management
  • Discretion to identify threats and opportunities in user generated content
  • Understands social media universe including YouTube, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Digg, Reddit, Flickr, Forums, Twitter, Wikis, blogs, etc…We’re looking for a social media addict who maintains a personal mix of participatory expertise from among these channels.
  • Possesses functional knowledge or some experience with HTML/CSS
  • Knowledge of search engine optimization-think including basic keyword research. We name and tag our posts based on research..
  • Has excellent verbal and written communication skills and an ability to work individually on a project or in a team environment
  • Is eager to meet and exceed objectives and take on more responsibility
  • Brings to the position outstanding organizational skills and the ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously while meeting deadlines
  • Ability to communicate results to management and in a fast paced environment

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  • Interact with our customers to align unselfish service of their needs, with our corporate objectives
  • Be the eyes and ears of our brand as if your own reputation depended on it
  • Build and maintain our content distribution network by way of social media channels
  • Minute by minute participation in conversations that surround our content and brand, answer comments, be a mediator.”
  • Identify threats and opportunities in user generated content surrounding our brand, report to appropriate parties.
  • Interact with legal, search, client and cross corporate agencies.
  • Create content for feeds and snippets in various social media sites.
  • Schedule and organize multiple departments which generate content on a daily basis
  • Conduct keyword research including cataloging and indexing target keyword phrases
  • Participate in social media, as yourself and white hat avatars, on our behalf
  • Optimizing tags, on our feeds, sharing sites like YouTube/Flickr and search engines through copywriting, creative & keyword optimization & buzz pocket mining.
  • Tag and title content, with an understanding of how the word’s chosen impact natural search traffic and rankings via recurrent optimized content
  • Manage and track link building campaigns, coordinated with all facets of our business.
  • Create and update daily, weekly and monthly reports
  • Analyze campaigns and translate anecdotal or qualitative data into recommendations and plans for revising the social media campaigns.

Please send resume and salary requirements to _______@gmail.com

“Hire someone who is passionate about your product/service. Don’t just hire anyone.”
Tamar Weinberg / Tamar

The role of Community Manager has definitely moved towards the front of many C-level executive’s mind. No longer only the stuff of geeks and nerds, feeds and social communities have gone mainstream. As an example, aimClear is currently supporting clients hiring 3 full time community managers and one free-lancer for a 6 week project.

We look forward to any input you might share regarding the traits of a good Community Manager hire. Thanks to @lisabarone @LeeOdden & @Tamar for help with this post.

  • John K.

    The problem with your SM CM job description in an enterprise context is that it under estimates the breadth and depth of a brand for all but the smallest companies. In general, successful companies develop cultures and relationships based upon understanding and serving the diverse markets where they sell products or services. Somebody without significant domain expertise and market experience is highly unlikely to be able to understand a situation in the context of the brand within a target market, geography, line of business, etc. The diversification involved is just too great. For example, immediately responding to a broad-based groundswell of outrage over a defective part may be unnecessary and even counterproductive. Black market parts made in China and other loosely regulated countries do occasionally make it into the main stream; wouldn’t an appropriate response be to launch an investigation? Might it take time in a large, budget driven organization to fund such an effort? An alternate strategy might be to trust your own quality assurances processes and ignore the matter altogether. Because of SM, you could argue that somebody else will scoop the real story in time.

    Being the “eyes and ears” of brand sounds like a good idea. But it does not seem pragmatic to me. For starters, if the company is a multi-national, the SM CM is unlikely to be one individual but a team of individuals that understand the brand in the context of a channel, perhaps in a single country or region (Americas, AsiaPac, …). The social media tools that can be used in any given channel will typically be constrained by corporate non-disclosure standards, regulations, competitive pressures, etc. A lot to think about for an Art major.

    The suggestion that the manager will being do this around the clock does not make sense to me either. It implies that responsiveness is more important than a well analyzed and measured response. What if the opinion of this History major turned SM CM develops a rapid response that goes viral, impacts the companies stock, and changes a public companies guidance to the market?

    Responsiveness is not the only corporate concern. Messaging is important and situational. Acknowledging some kind of criticism without careful alignment to an overall corporate communications strategy may put executives in the position of having to respond to inquiries they have not been briefed on. This is a very awkward situation, especially if the executive disagrees with the “working response” of the SM CM.

    Corporate communications is typically tied closely to the executive suite. I don’t know what kind or reporting structure you had in mind, but the SM CM would have to have enough rank and authority in the organization to get audiences with mid-level and senior executives. A web developer turned SM CM is unlikely to be seasoned enough in executive communications to both target the masses and build consensus in the executive suite.

    I may continue this dialog if there is interest.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @John K Thanks for taking the time to make such a thoughtful comment. I would say that the core skill sets required do not differ from enterprise applications.

    Obviously a single carpenter could not build a city, in vision, breadth, scope or tactics. However, in the enterprise application, you add more carpenters and centralized team management. All the while, the basic skills that embody a great craftsmen remain the same :).

    It was great to meet you on Twitter. I know our readers will appreciate your vantage point on this.

  • John K.


    No where in my response to I mention an “application.” I am talking about brand in the context of complex companies that have dozens of national and international subsidiaries. I disagree with your carpenter analogy as well; I think it supports my argument that the key skills are very different. A carpenter is unlikely to be able to build all but the most simple of structures. In fact, to build a structure in most places, you must be a contractor.

    A wise contractor doesn’t design the building alone; {s]he usually engages an architect and a design team that understands the materials that will be used to erect the structure. When the plans are relatively complete, most are submitted for civic review by some kind of inspecting agency to ensure compliance with applicable regulations. Although rapid design is often based upon selection from a previous catalog of suitable structures, significant expertise must still be brought to task to complete the design and initiate construction.


    – John

  • Carri Bugbee

    Marty, your aim is obviously to find community managers who will serve as an extension of the marketing team. However, I think many community managers fall under the heading of customer service and aren’t expected to generate much original content. They’re just supposed to explain and enforce the rules of the road – in a nice way, of course – by answering the same questions over and over, moderating discussions, and connecting community members with each other to create an environment of self-sustaining support.

    Regardless of which department a community manager works for, I think “soft skills” are extremely important. These are the kinds of things that can’t be taught, can’t be put on a resume, and may take decades to develop. To that point, I think community managers should have an attitude of service, a good sense of humor, a keen memory for names and personalities (and the ability to recognize those that stand out), an outgoing personality, the ability to establish rapport and diffuse hostility, and the moxie to improvise when they don’t have all the answers (if empowered to do so).

    In addition to category experience, I’d look for people who have been organizing and managing groups offline for many years, those who’ve spent a lot of time working with the public (folks with restaurant or retail experience in their past), gifted sales people, natural-born teachers or mentors, and those who can keep a lot of plates spinning. In my mind, the number one skill a community manager should have is the ability to establish genuine rapport and NURTURE RELATIONSHIPS – and that’s something most people don’t learn in school or on the job.


  • MPGodfrey

    I would have to agree with John, Carrie AND Marty. The Social Media Community Manager is what the leader of Best Buy’s Blue Shirt Nation referred to as: “a brand’s swiss army knife.” While there is a great deal of administrative and corporate communications responsibility within the SM role, there is a greater amount of relationship building skill and resourcefulness required to make the role successful. The most effective Community Managers I know of work primarily to grow and maintain a peaceful, energized community of genuine brand advocates; while offering a forum for interaction with caring, expressive contributing bloggers. Some don’t even blog themselves. (-though they do moderate/edit all blog entries.) They work as translators of what may appear to an untrained corporate communicator, as idle public chatter and what is actually opportunity for the company to gain community confidence. They operate on both sides of the fence in a transparent and authentic way that is both nurturing and supportive to both the online community and the team supporting the goals of the company. They are watchful, caring, interested parties who report on the good, bad or indifferent comments and conversations in their community in a way that offers pathways to measurable ROI and concrete metrics. They maintain their relationships in the company and in the community and lend credibility to both sets through their own reputation and personal brand. They are always prepared to work with their resources to maintain steady, open, and fast resolution when company issues arise that may affect their community. They are there on the scene first with the whole story and all the facts (through the voices of their internal team,) in times when the media doesn’t offer have the whole story. They are there to answer community member questions and take and honest, personal approach to accountability when challenged or required to do so. They know the brand and the mission of the company inside and out. They know and have direct contact with key organization decision makers and have their trust. They are a “good, likable, neighbor” in their online community and they always operate under the “don’t embarrass the team” philosophy. -or, “the brand swiss army knife.”

  • Marty Weintraub

    MPGodfrey @CarrieBugbee Thanks for the thoughtful comments. When writing this post, it was clear that I had no way to encompass every trait beneficial to the Community Manager role. This is clearly a topic which will be much written about in the future.

    This community manager job description was written from the perspective of classic search marketing hybrid blogger/publisher. I love the search marketing community’s leadership role in social media thought leadership.

    There will be countless job description versions proffered in the coming era. Heck, the era is already here. Like Lee said: important like customer service, PR and marketing.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing such thoughtful comments.

  • Carri Bugbee

    Marty, you should know me well enough to know that my Twitter moniker is @CarriBugbee! 🙂

    Nonetheless, GREAT comments by MPGodfrey. I LOVE the brand swiss army knife description. That’s the most apropos yet.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Carri Bugbee: Vernacular in blogs is to reflect the anchor text on which the commenting party leaves his or her name. The “@” sign was used for different com’ lingo well before Titter showed up 🙂 .

  • John K.

    @MPGodfrey: Metrics I can understand (hits, conversions, repeat visits); but Return on Investment? Does Best Buy monitor community purchasing influence and decision making enough to attribute revenue flows to specific communities?

    And how open are [can] the SM CM’s [be] in the face of pending litigation such as the latest class action recognized by NYS against Best Buy (03/29/2009)?

    It will be interesting to observe how Best Buy positions its “Swiss Army Knives” as it goes through what could prove to be a troubling time.

    – John

  • MPGodfrey

    You’re right, John. The Best Buy scenario will surely provide an interesting case study for all of us who are watching company SM CM roles unfold. Great perspective! Thanks for reading my post.

  • Dave Atkins

    This really captures the *ideal* but it also sounds like several people. Isn’t this really a part of what a good Director of Marketing should be? It is hard to do it all…to have the passion about the product, to keep up with the analytics, to write well and be skillful at managing inevitable controversy. I don’t believe one person can really do it all and do it all well. What is needed is a shared vision of what the company is trying to accomplish and a team of people who participate as a part of their other responsibilities.

    The real challenge is how to fulfill this role when everyone is “too busy,” and companies want to find this magical swiss-army knife person who will do it all for less than six figures a year. I think successful companies will build a team–which might involve hiring another person–but recognize that the role of engaging customers is a shared one that touches many aspects of the organization.

  • Mike McDermott

    As a Community Manager myself, I do appreciate the very detailed look at the job description. I do many times have to morph to accommodate different business objectives for small companies versus large. Enterprises with hundreds of brands to track and manage require much more and very different “care and feeding” than a small company that makes 5 different color widgets.
    A key part of SM management is the legal separation of an agent for the company, this often requiring a legal snippet on the managed site page.

    While serious community managers craft every word carefully, it is obvious that participating in a dialogue with the public can become feisty at times and may require issue remediation or comment repudiation.

  • Connie Bensen

    I like this discussion thread. I do think that the Community role can be encompassing and that it is possible at the enterprise level. My prediction is that it will be as a Chief Community Officer with a team to assist. In some cases the CMO may serve in that role. But we’re already seeing CCO’s in web 2.0 oriented companies. And yes, I think it should be 6 figures. It’s a lot of responsibility to coordinate communication cross functionally internally and also with the customers.


  • Mike McDermott

    Connie you are really rocking the boat now! 🙂
    Did you see that Pizza Hut hired a part time intern to do their Social Media.
    Folks like you and I have a long way to go before social media is taken seriously within a corporation along with the compensation thereof.
    I like to compare the Chief Community Manager to a Public Relations Manager/Director.
    While college students can certainly handle the SM copy work, editing, posting etc. There should be a Director or Manager who can do the internal heavy lifting.
    When that intern goofs up a post or a brand conversation flames up, they will need/want to have some leadership backing their continued efforts.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Connie Bensen: Points well made, thank you. The sheer man/woman power required to truly “manage” community means corporate-USA needs to train within. It’s incredible valuable to us, as an agency, when our client supplies associate community managers.

    @Mike McDermott Thanks for contributing to this dialog 🙂

  • MArk Fidelman

    This is where corporations are heading. The objectives will be different but there is a need for a Community Manager to replace the inernal PR team and interact online with propsects. I’d add the CM should be responsible for pushing propects down the sales funnel and into a commercial purchase decision through an education campaign. This person is not in sales, but dedicated to educating prospects on how to fix a business need.

  • Job Descriptions

    Social media community manager Job Descriptions can be found in many sites. But the one prepared by Marty Weintraub is really very good.

  • tamaras

    What if the issue of this History major turned SM CM develops a rapid response that goes viral, impacts the companies stock, and changes a public companies guidance to the market?

  • Nick Wreden

    Solid, well-conceived, well-executed post. However, I would add one item to qualifications: The ability to synthesize. The community manager will get a lot of information from a lot of sources, some of it contradictory. The ability to wade through that sea of information and correlate what’s meaningful will be essential.

  • William

    All-in-all a good post and I think more people will find it useful than not. Thank you for taking the time to write it.
    Our division consults to small retailers and this description works pretty well for us.

    • Marty Weintraub

      @William: Cool, we’re glad it resonates and has proven useful.

  • Edgar Sánchez


    Thanks for this nice article about Community Management

    This field is getting big now in Spain also, I have refereced this post as a resource in my latest post in Spanish about CMs.


    Thanks for the inspiration



  • Angelique

    Social media is constantly thriving when it comes to usage, utilization and influence. But there are still some companies who continue to advertise their business using the old system and later on find that their involvement is not as strong as other businesses that are using social media as one of their marketing strategies. In my personal view, it’s because there are no specific advantages. Social media generally catches the attention of most people; utilization and connection totally relies in the user who decided to do so. If your efforts are that not enticing or does not have the appealing charm it will not be successful and that what makes it more challenging.