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The 5 Hats of the ESN Community Manager

The 5 hats of the ESN Community Manager

So I'm no fashion expert. Especially not when it comes to hats! One person who does know a thing or two about hats is the ESN Community Manager.


They have to swap and change 'hats' in the metaphorical sense all the time.

By my reckoning there are five hats that the 'Rockstar Community Manager' needs to wear...take a read and see if you agree!

The 5 Hats of the ESN Community Manager

ESN Community Manager Hat 1
#1: The Referee Hat

So the first hat is the referee hat. The community manager is looked upon to maintain the standards of the network, create and communicate those standards, and enforce them when necessary. Pretty much like a referee. Whistle optional.

Disputes won't be frequent, but at times you have to remind people about the rules. Those 'rules' will differ from company to company, but they could be things such as use of profane language, inappropriate content, etc.

I asked Marc Wright at Simply Communicate how much control one needs. His answer is rather illuminating...

Marc Wright Publisher, Simply Communicate

As a referee or moderator be aware that the more senior the colleague the more they are likely to screw up on your ESN.

When even the CFO of twitter gets it wrong as Anthony Noto (below) did when he meant to send a Direct Message about an acquisition to a colleague but instead inadvertently broadcast it on the public network, it is pretty clear that social media is a minefield for senior staff.

So worry far more about the executive suite getting it wrong - front-line staff rarely do anything online that is this embarrassing - either internally or externally on social media.

So worry more about the senior leaders...makes sense! It's still a good idea to have some ground rules in place as a reference for newbies. If you need an Etiquette Guide to get you started, grab the one I use below....

ESN Etiquette Guide Example

Grab this two page Etiquette Guide to give to your colleagues and stick somewhere visible in your ESN - its important to encourage the right behaviours,                      

ESN Community Manager Hat 2
#2: The Thought Leader Hat

Second up we have the thought leader hat. The ESN Community Manager needs to have their own views on the area of business they are in. A common misconception is that the role is for a junior member of staff.

They are young and 'they get social' right. Wrong. Age is no indication of digital competence. 

​The best ESN Community Managers are the ones whose views are respected, who have a certain degree of gravitas. Who are thought leaders in their field.

Great #ESN Community Managers are thought leaders in their field who their community respect

Click to Tweet

ESN Community Manager Hat 3
#3: The Project Manager Hat

And so to hat number three, the PM hat. It's very easy to get carried away with the immediate and focus your time buried deep in the ESN 'doing stuff'.

But remember you need to plan future activities, campaigns, etc. This is where a touch of the 'PM's rigour' helps you out big time.

Try and treat every campaign in your ESN like a mini project with clearly defined deliverables (e.g. increase engagement by 20%) and have key milestones, much as you would any other project. 

I asked Rachel Miller at All Things IC what proportion of planning vs execution is required for a great ESN...

Rachel Miller Founder, All Things IC

If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Invest time planning what you're doing, you can't overdo thinking about it.

But make sure you allow room and time for creativity and fresh ideas to emerge.

ESN Community Manager Hat 4
#4: The Change Driver Hat

So, the change driver hat. One thing is clear, the ESN Community Manager needs a thick skin! - you will face a barrage of questions, quizzical looks, even complaints! What on earth is the point of social network for work many will ask you.

Remember that you are implementing a new way of working - resistance is normal, to be expected in fact!

New employees are a great way to infiltrate some of that 'old school thinking'. Over to blogger and author Virpi Oinonen to expand on this...

Virpi Oinonen Author of 'Internal Social Networks The Smart Way'

New employees are great potential change agents for new ways of working. When they join the organisation their minds are more or less a blank slate as far as your company culture is concerned.

If you manage to create for them a positive enterprise social experience early on, they will be in a better position to resist peer pressure from older employees who may try and get them to use old communication methods like email.

ESN Community Manager Hat 5
#5: The Spokesperson Hat

Finally, the spokesperson hat. As the ESN Community Manager, you are the internal megaphone for your community. 

You will build relationships with people from parts of the business you would never normally have any dealings with. 

With that power comes great responsibility. Don't abuse it, use your influence sparingly. Remember a key objective of any Rockstar Community Manager is to be present but not seen.  

Nick Crawford Co-founder / Director at BetterWorking

It's simple, the more you put in, the more you get out, just like the host at a party.

Put in a little extra effort to connect people, focus on their needs and how your community can help, then recognise their contributions, and you will reap the rewards that only a thriving community will bring.

So there you have it, the five hats. Do you agree? Which am I missing? Drop me a comment below.

PS. I am working on an online course to equip you with everything you need to become an ESN Community Manager Pro! Register your interest below to get early bird discounts...

Coming soon...Community Management Mastery Program

community management mastery program

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