It is very rare for me to devote a post on my blog to dismantling another posted elsewhere on the web.  And I’m not going to do that exactly, but I wouldn’t be able to rest  if I didn’t share this misguided post on Advertising Age with those who value community management and work their butts off daily trying to grow an online community.  These are people who I know read my blog. So be sure to read that AdAge post and all the comments when you can.

First off, this is not to bash the author. It really isn’t. But I do want to applaud the people who spoke up against claims that “out of work copywriter’s and journalists can reinvent themselves as social-media brand advocates,” as if this is an easy task.

Secondly, can we stop the madness about Twitter, Facebook and Linked-In savvy as enough training for the role of community manager? It is much more difficult than that!

And the checklist in the article is a bit of an insult.

Do you subscribe to RSS feeds?

What e-mail service do you use?

Do you have a blog?

In fairness, the other six are important, but again it is much bigger than this. I will let you read the post for yourself, but the good stuff is in the comments.

Just to pull out a few….this was posted by a user anamed JulieWalker:

Interesting article and comments – most of which refelct the lack of understanding of community management within the marketing services industry.

Community management and moderation services have been in existance since the late 80’s when online communities, online strategy games and bulletin boards went live. Since then professional community management and online moderation companies have evolved. These include http://www.emoderation.com/ (UK and US) and www.tempero.co.uk (UK for international clients) two of the leading online moderation companies. In addition other full time community management professionals have been employed by leading brands to ensure the safety of children online (if their online community is focused on children and teens for example habbo hotel and the penguin club).

Professionals have come from many backgrounds into this area and it is growing however – their core skills sets are not facebook, twitter or linkedin…….

These social tools are lightweight tools which when used create more value for those networks than for the individual brands using them – these are merely other channels where conversations can take plce – but they are not the core places for conversations around brands to take place.

Moving into community management is not an easy move – there is more to it than managing a twitter and facebook account – dont be fooled – do your research and find out if it is a career you are interested in – most community managers I know are passionate about what they do and that is key to being successful.

AMEN, JULIE! And here’s another posted by a user named Jeepers:

There is so much wrong with this article I’m not even sure where to start. Is it actually supposed to be a serious piece?

The entire thing displays staggering ignorance of the role it beggers belief.

1. Community Managers have been sweating away behind the scenes for close to 2 decades now, the fact that the advertising world had just discovered the role doesn’t make it new.

2. It takes more than a Twitter account and a ‘personal brand’ to make a Community Manager. The fact that the author even mentions a ‘personal brand’ (and what a load of meaningless ad speak that phrase is) as an important attribute is hilarious. Good Community Managers show their worth in a trail of healthy communities, not a smokescreen of self-promoting twaddle.

3. A number of key skills for community management didn’t even get a mention in the article. How about people management? What about awareness of safety issues? And that thorny little subject of customer service?

4. Brand advocate. A nice little phrase tossed around by people who generally don’t give a flying whatsit about the customer. A good Community Manager is a customer advocate and that knowledge can aid in keeping the brand healthy.

I will be so glad when community management is no longer flavour of the month and those of us who know what we’re doing, and have worked in this field for years (even decades), can be left by the chattering classes to get on with what we do best.

I am not saying that out-of-work journalists cannot do this job. Heck, I’m a journalist and I think that many of the skills journalists posses come into play heavily in community m anagement. But it isn’t something you can just jump into and think you’ll do a bang-up job.

Let’s be a bit more respectful of the craft.

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