communitymanagementThe high school kid in the back continued to cause a ruckus. He laughed at our career development recommendations and made snide comments under his breath, his posse around him laughing along as well.

At one point one of my career co-panelists, an HR professional, asked the boy, “What do you want to get paid to do after high school?”

He snorted. “I dunno. Hang out?”

More laughter. I thought to myself, I remember kids like him. Heck, I know adults like him. I started him down.

“You know,” I said, not missing a beat with my eye contact, “there’s actually a whole new set of jobs around just ‘hanging out.'”

Him and the posse sat still.

“Yes, a whole new set of jobs. It’s called online community management, and companies from all kinds of industries are hiring people to hang out online and manage all their social sites. Sometimes it’s to market and sell their stuff, provide a sweet level of customer service, and more and more it’s to attract new people to hire. So, it’s not really just hanging out — you actually have to work — but think about how much fun that would be.”

The kid nodded at me, then smiled. His posse didn’t move a facial muscle.

Online community management is a growing field indeed, touching every facet of business, non-profits, government channels — you name it. Social media channel management is what started it all and now companies are growing their “communities” across multiple social points of presence as well as implementing community platforms to unify and target all the subtle diverse subgroups that exist in the real world. And in their communities.

A quick search on the job aggregator Indeed yielded a few thousand social media / community management jobs. There are a lot of great resources out there for businesses looking to implement and/or improve community management including The Community Roundtable, which provides strategic, tactical and professional development programming for community and social business leaders through online training, a membership based peer to peer network, and a ton of great resources.

And while there’s already been much written about community management best practices, and will continue to be, I’m going to add my three F’s of sweet community management here based on my labor of love the TalentCulture #TChat Community (and the only time when it’s good to get multiple F’s in school):

  1. Flexibility – the ability to manage mulitiple social channels and communities with diverse populations week after week
  2. Fortitude – the strength and endurance to manage the channels and communities week after week
  3. Fidelity – loyalty to the community/brand and being accurate with it week after week

Online community management may be new, but who says it’s still wet behind the ears? Not me, nor the kid in the back of the class (any more at least).