5 tips for standing out from the community manager applicant crowd

I started working in the social media space 7 years ago. While a lot has changed since then on the job front one thing is a depressing constant. Hiring managers have no clue what they’re looking for. The professionalization of the industry has actually made this worse. When I started out- basically being in your 20s and knowing how to pull up a free analytics tool could land you a job. Social media was low cost and high reward.

Now it’s different- sort of. Hiring managers know that they should be looking for more but they’re still not sure what. So you end up with bizarre Frankensteined job descriptions saying everything and nothing. Meanwhile on the job seeker side things aren’t much better. In a world where your best work is designed to vanish in 24 hours how are you supposed to demonstrate your value? How do you figure out which skills to invest time in when job descriptions seem to depend on the latest trend? (Remember when everyone demanded you have experience running Snapchat campaigns?)

The way to stand out is to take charge of your story. Decide what you want your path to be and then make sure that comes through in everything you do during the job search. Be the professional in an often informal and unprofessional situation. It’s a great way to stand out and is a great way to demonstrate what you bring to the table. Let’s face it- most marketing departments are noisy and disorganized. By being the super organized and professional applicant, you highlight additional strengths you’ll bring to the table once you get the job.

Taking control begins with your resume and LinkedIn.

  1. Be data driven- go through everything you’ve done and find numbers. Even if they’re estimations always include numbers they show hiring managers that you understand the importance of data- not just hype
  2. Emphasize your skills. Community management means being a multi tool. Make a list of everything you do and reword it to generalize your skills to other marketing roles. For example: Responding to twitter DMs= first touch customer service and triage, social media audits = data storytelling, creating and scheduling posts= content marketing
  3. Be crystal clear about your category. There are types of community managers and in 2019 most jobs are looking for you to be a specialist rather than a generalist. I’ve listed a few typical categories in the table below. You’re probably a combination of these- that’s fine! Go back through everything you’ve done and start to build a resume around each. You want it to SCREAM your specialization.
  4. Support it with LinkedIn. Think of your LinkedIn profile as supporting documentation for everything on your resume. Don’t be shy about asking for recommendations. I try to ask for a coworker and manager at everyplace I’ve been. Be sure to put your best foot forward. Add links to work you’ve done. If you already blog, crosspost the ones you’d like a hiring manager to see to linkedin pulse for added visibility. Even if they don’t read it, just having them there will register.
  5. Know the market, what you’re looking for and where to find it! Have a dream of managing the Wendy’s handle? Don’t apply to Wendy’s! It’s outsourced to an agency. Want to do work with nonprofits or the arts as a community manager? Again- probably going to be an agency. Want to work for a particular brand? Look through all their marketing, comms, customer experience positions to get a sense of where they are in their digital journey. Few companies are hiring community managers but they may be hiring content marketers or analytics specialists. Talk to your connections not just to get a job opportunity – get intel from them about the type of candidate they look for. Use the opportunity to learn about their process – it can help you read the signs later on!
CMGR TypeMusts
Enjoy wordplay, Love Grammar, have graphic design experience
Be very patient, Detail- oriented, Good in a crisis
AnalystPivot table geek, Data visualization, Stickler for statistics
Campaign/ Event Strategist Problem solver, Strong presentation skills, Planner

I hope this has been useful. I’ve been on the market quite a few times and I know how scary and overwhelming it can be. It’s a huge irony that exuding confidence is a the key to getting past the vulnerability of unemployment. It’s definitely a case of fake it until you make it- and one killer way to fake it is to take control of your search.

Check out part two of this series where I go into some of the nuances of applying to startups versus agencies versus big brands.

Why Community Strategy Matters

Organic reach on social media is an incredibly competitive space, leading some marketers to pronounce it to be basically dead. Those who are more optimistic spend time talking about tactics that brands should be leveraging- from influencer marketing to employee advocacy.

But I’d like to suggest something a bit different. Organic reach in its original free-for all form is indeed mostly dead. Yet this does not necessitate the turn to a paid-centric approach. Rather, the introduction of the algorithm signaled a new era in Organic reach rewarding community-centered content and social strategies.

In this space, platforms filter posts according to a complex algorithm which takes into account the reception of a post by a user’s network to decide whether to serve it to the user. The 2016 US presidential election brought these filtered out “bubbles” into sharp relief. People went onto Facebook believing they were getting an accurate sample of their network’s views when, instead, they were receiving pre-filtered views through the algorithm. (This led KIND snacks to create a “Pop Your Bubble” App  which connects you to 10 people on Facebook with different opinions than your own.) Regardless of the pushback, however, Facebook knows that it’s doing something right. It just hit the 2B user mark and Instagram which also debuted an algorithm last year, is now at 700M users. Most significantly, this past July Google entered the personalized algorithm fray with the introduction of personalized search results based on your interaction with various Alphabet properties.

Social Influencers represent another key group of actors in the organic Community-focused approach. Influencers derive their power from cultivating a strong follower-base and building a unique community. They are driven by the desire to set themselves apart for personal branding purposes and building power niche audiences- such as black vegan bloggers– that brands can appeal to. Influencers work to get their communities to engage with them, which in turn sends a powerful signal to the platform algorithm to continue to deliver the same type of content to those users. Influencers + Algorithm means that suddenly, there could be a whole dedicated group of social media users engaged with the #BlackVeganBlogger hashtags.

Brands embarking on an organic community strategy should assess all of the niche communities that relate to their messaging/product. Every piece of content, and corresponding social posts, should be created with the goal of generating interaction with one of those communities. For example, a brand selling Kale Chips could market to: Black Vegan Bloggers, Mom Vegan Bloggers, Urban Vegan Bloggers, LGBT Vegan Bloggers, Parent Vegan Bloggers, College Student Vegan Bloggers, you get the point- right? Content highlighting these niche communities tends to get shared more simply because it’s less common. This tactic is first and foremost about making sure that your content is geared to speak to target communities with the aim of getting picked up and re-shared.

According to this model, tactics such as influencer marketing and employee advocacy are part of a larger overall community-strategy geared towards increasing social media organic reach. It follows therefore, that the smallest unit of social media marketing is not the influencer or the individual. Rather it’s the niche community through which social media marketing derives relevance.




Social Media and the Small Business

Social media can make all the difference for a small business and yet for the majority of small business owners I’ve spoken to it is simply another frustrating stressor.

As a business owner you need to be focused on what you know will get you that a return on investment. You barely have time to eat lunch let alone to figure out how to optimize (whatever that means) your LinkedIn Page or whether you should be on Instagram.

You keep telling yourself that you’ll figure out social media once you grow a bit bigger. But let’s be honest, we both know that once you grow bigger you’ll have a whole new set of concerns around ROI and once again, social media marketing will not make the cut.

It’s the small business owner’s dilemma: you know you need to invest in social media but every minute you invest in trying to set up your unproven social media strategy, is time away from tried and true activities that you know will net a given ROI.

Moreover, getting that ROI from social media is much more difficult than it was a few years ago. In the age of the algorithm and content saturation it’s no longer enough for you to simply have a LinkedIn Page, Facebook Profile or Twitter handle. To really see ROI you need to be in the right place at the right time serving up the right content for the right audience.

This typically leads to a business owner hitting a total breaking point and making one of the following very un-strategic decisions:

  1. Delegation: ask your most millennial-looking employee to get your company on social media then get irritated 6 months later when they leave and you realize you don’t know any of the passwords.
  2. Throw money at it: Invest in a service that the sales person swears will fix all of your problems by means of an intricate proprietary algorithm powered by flying blue monkeys (you have a suspicion that you got that last part wrong but it was only $29.99 a month and surely it must do something helpful)
  3. Avoidance: Forget social media. Just forget it. There’s no time. It’s all too much. We’ll figure it out later.

What these 3 points have in common is a desire on the part of the small business owner to solve what they feel is a problem without educating themselves as to the actual nature of the problem. But I get why this occurs. Social media feels overwhelming and when you already have a full plate as a business owner it seems impossible.

The problem is that for social media to actually benefit your business, you need to be directly involved in the strategy at least in the beginning. Social media allows you to communicate to your customers and potential customers. It’s a way for your build up a community that you can tap into throughout your sales cycle. The right social strategy can provide a much needed cushion when you experience dips in sales. But that can only occur if you set up your strategy to do that ahead of time. And that takes your commitment to work with a trained professional who can provide the following solutions for you:

  • Education as to how your business goals could benefit from social media investment. Every business is different and you need to know what’s attainable and what’s not.
  • Realistic assessment of needed investment based on the goals you want to set (some industries are harder than others!)
  • Setting clear performance indicators pegged to your ROI goals that you can monitor to know how you’re doing at any given time.
  • Creation of social media plug and play process that you and your employees understand and can follow.

As the daughter of a small business owner I know all too well the sheer enormity of this task. So here’s the thing, if you’re not in a place where you can invest some upfront resources (your time and money) in a strategy then make the ROI- motivated decision to stay off of social media. BUT, so that you’re not going back into avoidance, create a calendar reminder with a link to this blog post for next quarter when you’re going to do a ROI-motivated reassessment of that decision.

With the right strategy social media CAN be a game changer for your small business. 

Why #H2H Broke Twitter

A year ago Bryan Kramer coined the term “There is no more B2B or B2C. It’s H2H: Human to Human” and accompanied it with the now infamous #H2H hashtag. It was truly amazing to see how this very simple concept caught on like wildfire. In fact H2H was just named as the business term most likely to “catch on” in 2015 so move over “disruption”!

The revolutionary nature of this term is in its simplicity and relatability. It’s so easy to get caught up in Corporate-Speak where everyone becomes a labeled statistic or grouped into acronyms. Before long your strategy can begin to look like a nighmarish algebra problem.

ROI of B2C= X per month where C= GenZ and B=Electronics Products. Solve for X

But deep down I believe we’ve all had a sense of unease- we know that customers are far more complex if for no other reason than we know that we are more complex. Our interactions can’t be captured by a labeled statistic. The advent of social media opened the door to a brand new world of connectivity. A ginormous brand can strategically use CRM to make an individual (non-VIP) consumer feel valued as an individual. There’s a reason that there’s no ROI from a tweet. You can’t put an ROI on a burgeoning relationship. And THAT’S what #H2H got at. That oh-so-simple slide put into words what we’ve all been feeling and that’s why #H2H trended worldwide. 

H2H is more than just another acronym or catch-phrase. It’s a challenge that’s caught the imagination of people around the world. And I’m proud to be a part of it.