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About Rich

  • Richard Millington is the founder of FeverBee, a community consultancy and Professional Community Management course. Richard is also the author of Buzzing Communities: How To Build Bigger, Better, And More Active Online Communities. Richard's clients have included Google, AutoDesk, United Nations, Novartis, Wikipedia, Oracle, The World Bank, Diabetes Hands Foundation, Fidelity Investments, and many more. Richard is also the the author of the Online Community Manifesto.

    e-mail: richard@feverbee.com
    T:+44 (0)7763 831931

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Comments

JeromePineau

Excellent post - I approve this message :)

Rob Bowker

I've not previously seen this reasoning articulated in such a concise and persuasive way - thanks Richard.

laura

You missed writing. Writing is the most important thing when I hire anyone interacting with customers.

Richard Millington

It's under 'skills', Laura.

Do you really feel that writing is the most important thing? Surely being able to interact with customers in a professional way is more important than whether they make a few typos?

Customers will probably forgive typos, but not rude staff.

JennTelligent

Richard, I want to defend Laura’s position. When she said “writing” I don’t think she was specifically talking about typos. Writing is not just talking about the perfunctory rules of grammar and syntax.

Writing is your voice in the community, whether you are representing an affinity or a professional organization. When we say “a writer” we mean someone who can persuade and engage. A good writer is akin to a good actor. They can take a message or idea and transform it into a meaningful story that attracts audiences and keeps them thinking about your message long after they have logged off their computer.

But, on the topic of typos…it’s not good business to disregard typos or assume no one cares. Yes, just about every piece of communication has one. But, it’s still not something to dismiss. Typos, bad grammar, and misspellings do reflect on credibility. And if your messaging doesn’t show integrity, it reflects on you and your community brand.

*steps off soapbox*

In short, I agree with Laura. But, I still like you a lot, Richard. :)

Richard Millington

I half agree with you Jenn, though I do suspect you're putting words in my mouth. I think the definition of a writer can be expanded or shrunk to fit either of our arguments.

Writing is important. I listed it in the blog post due to it's importance. But, it's not the most important thing. Finding someone with the right personality, passion and attitude is far more important.

A great writer without these attributes will be a terrible community manager.

However, someone with the right attributes but not so great at writing can still do relatively ok. You see communities launched by 13 year olds with absolutely no writing ability. It would be tough to say that writing ability has much influence on any of the major successful online communities. It's always been the passion and attitude of the community manager.

The other problem is that a good writer is great for content, but content is only a small piece of the community puzzle. Being able to interact with individuals on a personal basis is going to have a bigger impact.

Perhaps, most of all, 'your voice within the community' shouldn't necessarily be the dominant voice in the community at all. Much of the community work is invisible to most members. Focusing on writing ability can do more harm than good.


Jlalonde33

This discussion about writing skills is as interesting as your post itself.

About writing skills, I would add that the importance of quality writing also depends on the type of community you manage. And you probably know that there is a great variety of definitions of what is a community.

If your community is a group of people involved in a common objective using the communication tool to share experiences or ask questions, etc., having perfect writing skills is less important. The content is more imporant.

On the other hand, if your community is more like an audience or a clientele (that you inform/engage using a Facebook page, for example), then the quality of writing can have a direct impact on the efficiency of your communication and, if typos are frequent, on your credibility.

This being said, excuse my "average" English writing skills, English being my second language :-)

John Norris

Thank you for mentioning social science and psychological knowledge. I think having some of the fundamentals will help one have a strong foundation on which to build their communities.

I wonder, as we see more schools offering social media classes, if there will be more candidates out there with this sort of understanding.

NicWirtz

I'd suggest the worst hiring practice in community management is hiring brand evangelists.

The worst of all possible worlds, no idea about tech skills, no idea about community skills, anyone with a twitter account is a social media expert so we'll ignore that.

One thing I would caution against is those that "have far too much free time".

There's an underbelly of very good, very skilled and highly motivated unemployed or underemployed. Not surprising when the unemployment rate runs at roughly 10%+.

Those that tend to sneer at that group may be doing so through fear of losing their own job.

The first three things you say to look for are all personality-based, then when suggesting what community managers should do at least two of those require technical/analysis skills.

This would appear to contradict the earlier point about CMs not requiring technical skills. I agree that the reality is it doesn't take long to learn these skills but to find an outgoing, stats based, analytical cheerleader is rare.

The roles of a CM are many, multi-skilled and multi-taskers that can do such a varied role are few and far between.

@Laura/Rich/everyone else, Writing comes under content too.

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