Face Person or a Community Manager

By Dawn Lacallade, Community Manager at SolarWinds

Someone recently asked me what qualities you should look for in someone to run your Corporate Community. While this is a great question, first you have to decide if you are looking for a “face person” or a “community manager”. Let me explain…

First, what is a "face person"? (yes, I totally made that term up) A face person is generally a highly visible representative of the company that closely resembles the target demographic of the community. Examples of these people would include: Whurley, aka William Hurley, of BMC; Lionel Menchaca at Dell; Robert Scoble formerly of Microsoft and SolarWinds own Josh Stephens (the head geek). These people connect with the audience because they are someone the audience knows. They are experts in their area and can “talk shop” with the best. These people could be experts in Community or Digital Media strategy, or not.

What to look for in a face person:
1. They have to expertise in the subjects within the community (faking this DOES NOT work)
2. They have to be real and be able to connect with the community (this includes sharing personal information and showing their personality)
3. They need to be accessible and comfortable with the online space. (ready to travel in this role- ie. conferences)
4. They need to have insights or opinions to share (or there is nothing to write about).

Do you know Sean O’Driscoll or Rachel Makool or Vida Killian? Chances are you don’t, even though they run some of the biggest communities (Microsoft, eBay & Ideastorm). While you don’t know them, be certain that the members of their communities do. A community manager is much more a practitioner that is focuses on the understanding of business goals and the steps to accomplish. Often this person will take a back seat role on the community focused more on gathering community feedback and interacting with members on community topics and less focused on having their voice heard. This person does not have to be an expert in your industry to successfully drive your community.

What to look for in a community manager:
1. They have to expertise in digital media and community management experience
2. Ability to craft a custom strategy for your community
3. Analytics skills to craft and demonstrate the ROI
4. Negotiation and collaboration skills to sell the ideas and secure support

So this begs the question: Can you find one person to be both? Absolutely you can, you just don’t have to.


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