Do You Know Your Community Manager?

On the surface, that may seem like a very ridiculous question to ask. But really, do you know who’s manning your online or social media communities? Sure, you vetted your internal candidates through your interviewing process; they passed your face-to-face meetings and your high-level reference checks. But do you really know him or her?

In light of Monday’s now infamous social snafu on behalf of the US Airways Twitter account (and arguably the most epic social media fail of 2014 thus far) it really begs the question – just who is manning your social communities and most importantly, should they be? I won’t get into the unsavory details about what transpired on US Airways’ Twitter account, but feel free to Google it – it’s everywhere. But be warned, the content is definitely NSFW.

Situations like this one, which start out as seemingly innocent exchanges or customer service responses via social media, but rapidly spiral down the crisis communication vortex, are starting to occur more frequently. The “causes” range from hotheaded social media employees, genuine hacks to the account, or a disgruntled employee. But the result is the same: an unexpected crisis communications incident that in the blink of an eye can tarnish the hard-earned reputation of your business, brand or customer relationships.

So really, how well do you know the person that holds the keys to your proverbial fast and furious sports car?

To help avoid scenarios like this for your business or brand, here are a few helpful words of advice:

  1. Experience Matters. Before hiring an employee to your internal social media team, go beyond your normal due diligence. During the interview process, ask for their body of work – beyond the well-crafted buzzwords on their resume. An experienced social community manager will be delighted to showcase examples of their previous work such as: business pages they’ve managed, content they’ve written and the campaigns they’ve launched. If their answer to your request is “I manage my own Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram accounts” (or something along those lines), you may need to be put their resume into the do not hire pile.
  2. Reputation Overlap. You might not reflect on this often, but the personal reputation of your community manager directly relates to the reputation of your brand or business; the good, the bad and the ugly. Unless otherwise (and strategically noted) the Internet and social media channels don’t differentiate between the personality of your social media employee and your business’ social media account. Online communities only see one thing: the social account they are interacting with, not the individual manning the controls.
  3. Passion. Does your community manager really love your brand both inside and out? Do they adopt your corporate culture, the goals of the business, the brand’s voice (both offline and online)? Do they believe in your business/brand and your objectives? Because honestly, if the answer is no to any of those questions, they most likely aren’t the right fit. A community manager that just “goes through the motions” or views the position as “just a job” isn’t going to be successful, and more importantly isn’t going to contribute to the success of your business operations.

At the end of the day, your community manager is one of the major representatives of your brand. If they are inexperienced, unmotivated, or lack the core character traits that match your company’s culture, they shouldn’t be driving one of the most powerful communication channels you use.