Don’t Shoot the N00bie

Why would you hire someone* without community experience?

  • Because you don’t care about community
  • Because you don’t understand community
  • Because you have a community for the wrong reasons
  • Because you see community as a lever to get what you (the business) want(s)
  • Because you don’t believe community is a service for its members

* This rant brought to you by the letter “N” for N00bie

I met this particular newbie at a social business conference last week. He approached me at the reception food table, where I was trying to stave off becoming #hangry. He was polite, respectful, and non-greasy. He was new to the company, new to community management, and was now responsible for two established communities. He said he’d been reading up on everything he could find on community management. His question for me, “How can I encourage customers to help each other in the community?”

That’s a short question with a long answer. And my answer always starts with more questions:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • What are your customers trying to accomplish?
  • Were the customers answering questions, and then they stopped?
  • Are there┬ánew types of questions you want them to answer?
  • What other challenges are you having?

It was at this point that he told me he was a new hire, had applied for something else but had “gotten” this position instead. He seemed eager to learn and to please, so I tried to be happy for him. But I was mad at his managers. What support were they giving him? What are their goals and expectations, for him and for the communities? One positive I can say is they did invest to send him to a great community conference.

My rant is not to say that a person with no community experience is a poor community management hire. We all start somewhere. The person I met was eager, polite, and willing to walk up to someone and ask for help. I hope he will grow and flourish in the role. But he has a hard road ahead. I hope he gets the support he needs.

If you’re in the market for a community manager, do you know what you’re looking for? And why?