Do You Have What It Takes To Work As A Social Media Or Community Manager?


Congratulations! You’ve just chosen quite possibly one of the most exciting and unconventional career paths currently out there.

Just a few years ago, this profession didn’t even exist. And now? Well, some 79% of corporations have jumped on the bandwagon hiring social media and community managers to drive their online efforts. The growth is astounding and it’s a role that’s here to stay.

I’ve worked in social media for the past three years now and it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience as I’ve connected with some of the most interesting people from all over the world and of such varied backgrounds. It’s the perfect job if you’re someone who enjoys interacting with people (remember, it is social media!) and thrives on creativity, risk and experimentation.

But what makes a really great social media and community manager? And what are employers looking for when hiring someone to fill this role? Hint: they’re not looking for someone who can stare at their Facebook feed all day.

Adaptability and versatility

Online and social media is one of the most – if not the┬ámost – fast-paced and booming industries. New technologies and tools emerge and fall everyday. Social media and community managers must be quick to adapt to new trends and understand how to apply them to a company’s advantage.

More than that, they often have to be comfortable wearing different hats and juggling different skills. You must be a researcher, a communicator, a writer, an event planner…all at the same time. As someone who works in social media, you must embrace and thrive in this state of flux.

Solid communications skills

Well, this is a bit obvious. After all, a career in social media is ultimately a career in communications. But I can’t stress enough how essential writing and verbal skills are. Social media come in different forms — blog posts, videos, Twitter, you name it…and you need to be the Jack (or Jill) of all communication trades.

Oh, why yes, I am the girl always on her phone checking Twitter!

Flexibility and constant connection

Conversations don’t stop the minute you walk out of the office, you know? The thing about the online world is that it operates 24/7 and conversations will happen with or without you.

Your hours will be a little different from the usual 9-to-5 grind because people are always talking, tweeting, uploading videos and photos, and updating their Facebook statuses. Digital does not stop. You’ll likely have to check social networks around the clock, in the evening and on the weekends.

And no, that does not count as overtime. It’s just a regular part of your job.

Enthusiasm, energy and passion

You are the online voice and face for the company. You need to exude passion for whatever product or service you are representing. You need to understand the industry lingo, empathize with the company’s community, and just straight up live and breathe that brand.

If you don’t? Well, it’s a lose-lose situation both for you and the company that you’re working for. Not only will you be ineffective and unsuccessful in driving your company’s visibility, traffic and user engagement…you’re going to hate your life while doing so.

I’ve been in this position before and, let me tell you, there is nothing worse than pitching something you don’t believe in and engaging with a community you can’t relate to.

But being the resident evangelist for an organization/cause/brand that you do believe in? Great feeling. Great results. Just remember, passion is never overrated and it sure as hell can’t be forced.

So…do you think you’ve got what it takes to work in social media?

Photo credit: Social Media Mess by KEXINO on Flickr
About the author

Justine Abigail Yu is a communications professional by day and a freelance writer by night. Graduating from the University of Toronto specializing in Political Science and Sociology, her heart lies in the development sector where she has worked with organizations operating in North America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. You can easily lure her in with talk of international development, human rights, emerging technologies, travel, and yes, Mad Men. Or a slice of cheesecake. Read her blog here or follow her on Twitter @justineabigail.