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Rajiv Patel is economic attaché at the Embassy of India in Berne and business columnist for Swiss Radio and Television. He has a degree in finance from the University of Delhi and does management consultancy for large corporations worldwide. He enjoys cricket, sudoku and love songs.

What exactly does a “community manager” do?

Dear Rajiv,

What exactly does a “community manager” do?

Francisco S., Madrid

I hear this question a lot. It is coming mainly from non-digital natives aged 40 and over, many of whom are still trying to figure out how to change the ringtone on a smartphone. You want to know why a bunch of kids in jeans are getting paid to live-tweet during corporate events and tag photos on Instagram, while you are filling out spreadsheets. Right?

Well, have you ever been to Club Med? Remember the GOs? A community manager’s job is to engage members online, just like GOs get you to join the morning aqua gym session. Good community managers always find ways to communicate positively about a brand, the same way good GOs invariably look like they are having a fabulous time. Top-notch community managers do so-called “cross-pollination” of content over several social media channels; as far as I know, GOs cross-pollinate all the time.

Managing communities on Facebook or other social media is all about being fast: there is no time for escalation procedures and useless paperwork. This makes people from the legal department and corporate communications go berserk. Suddenly, there’s a guy from the social media department sitting in the CEO’s office, giving him lessons on how to use hashtags. When he needs a green-light, he just calls the boss on his cellphone. This fellow is like the GO with the largest muscles: he is making everyone envious.

Community managers are transforming the science of communication. Nowadays, it is all about “storytelling”, finding the right “tone of voice” and getting maximum “return on relationship”. If you are in the business of communication but still have not signed up to Pinterest, your days are over. Prepare your resignation letter, negotiate an early retirement, and go for some holidays on the beach. Why don’t you try Club Med?

Follow Rajiv and watch his videos on Facebook and Twitter.

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