I spotted this delightful image the other day – it reveals in inner mind of a community manager or host (via @temperouk). It includes their key qualities. The glasses and T-shirt are a dead give-away if you’re community-host spotting – honest.

With more and more companies investing in social media, finding the right person to manage and host conversations is all important. Getting the right fit for your brand or community is about getting the chemistry right. It means finding someone who has a passion for and deep understanding of your product, your subject or your brand. You need to find a person who understands your audience and has great listening skills; someone with the ability to craft a message that hits home and encourages an active response.

It’s more than copywriting, beyond PR, greater than customer service or research. It’s a host – a Maitre D’, if you like. A person with the ability to juggle multiple conversations simultaneously; to spot trouble brewing and head it off at the pass; to know what people want before they ask; to see trends and new behaviours in communities or audiences and feed that back into the right parts of an organisation; to make voices outside the organisation heard and understood within it. And vice versa.

When it comes to communication, it’s often the quirks that get you noticed in an increasingly crowded space. Do you need someone with a sense of humour or with a high degree of empathy and understanding? Can they craft a message that packs a punch or one that spurs people into action? Getting the tone of voice right can make all the difference between active engagement and bored indifference.

Like any other role, that of a host should be based on clear objectives. Whether it’s a message board, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other digital community, when you’re in a space eminently suited to conversation, spitting out bland “news” is the equivalent of talking AT people. Why would they bother to respond?

Social networks can offer fascinating insights and be hugely rewarding but don’t underestimate the skills required and the investment in time to build trust and understanding. A good host can be one of your greatest assets…

If you’re interested in finding out more, get in touch.