Yvette Pistorio

Five Ways Introverts Make Great Community Managers

By: Yvette Pistorio | May 8, 2013 | 

Five Ways Introverts Make Great Community ManagersI’m going to fill you in on a little secret…I’m an introvert.

*Gasp* I know, weird right?

Like my friend Mack Collier, I’m an extrovert online and in introvert offline.

If you met me in a large crowd, (prior to chatting with me online), I’d be the awkward girl in the corner with her face in her (name random electronic device here) to avoid actually speaking to people.

Sometimes I wear headphones when I’m not listening to music so I don’t have to talk to people. If you see me at a conference, or on the streets of Chicago, you’ve been warned!

Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy interacting with people, but I only talk when I have something to say.

If you’ve met me in person, you may have a hard time believing I’m an introvert because when I feel comfortable enough around people, I do enjoy talking and carrying on like an extrovert. But being an introvert doesn’t mean I’m shy, it just means I feel uncomfortable in real life situations where I don’t know anyone.

I read an old article on Forbes by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler about why introverts make the best leaders. The qualities she mentions can be translated to community managers. Whether you are an introvert or not, there are some characteristics we have that make us great social media and community managers.

We are great at listening.  Well, most of us are. Introverts are happy to sit back and listen to the conversation before they jump in. It’s the same for social media – community managers are attentive to their fans and followers. We listen to what they say, look for what they like, and at what conversations they participate in. Then we jump in to create or share content that will appeal to them, hopefully starting a conversation around the topic at hand.

We think first and talk later. “Even in casual conversations, they consider others’ comments carefully, and they stop and reflect before responding,” Kahnweiler says. In social media it’s important to respond quickly to things, however it still gives you time to think through how something sounds before you hit send. It’s really useful when you are dealing with a crisis or customer complaint.

We let our fingers do the talking. We tend to prefer the written word, and social media allows us to do just that. It helps us better articulate our positions and, to my previous point, it lets us think about what we want to say, and revise anything before we send it out.

We exude calm. In times of crisis, we project a reassuring, calm confidence which is great for social media. If there is a crisis, the last thing you want to do is let your emotions get the better of you.

We tend to dislike small talk and embrace solitude. I do, at least. We’re drawn more to meaningful conversations instead of “superficial chitchat,” as Kahnweiler calls it.  We know how to ask great questions and really listen to the answers. This is important in social media, because it’s not about talking at your community, it’s about talking with them: Listening to them, and asking questions to figure out what they want. Community managers want meaningful relationships, not one million likes. Don’t get me wrong – a million likes would be fantastic, but if we aren’t building relationships with those people, and they aren’t coming back to our community, then what’s the point?

In my opinion, social media was made for introverts. Whenever clients ask our fearless leader, Gini Dietrich, who she recommends putting in charge of social media, she says to start with the introverts inside the company. Why? Because social media allows us to make friends and break the ice behind the comfort of our computer screens.

I know it gives me a place where I can communicate with confidence.

About Yvette Pistorio

Yvette Pistorio is the shared media manager for Arment Dietrich. She is a lover of pop culture, cupcakes, and HGTV, and enjoys a good laugh. There are a gazillion ways you can find her online.

  • PattiRoseKnight1

    A company that is smart enough to employ both introverts and extroverts and utilize each of their specific skills is a company on a successful road.

  • Twinsies. 🙂

  • People are always gob-smacked when I say I’m an introvert.

  • Wow, Yvette. That’s counterintuitive and also spot-on.

  • …and my tweet of this article got two retweets within 12 minutes.

    • CrackMarketing

      maxchristianhansen I think there are lots of extroverts online indeed! That would be the perfect reason, I guess.

      • CrackMarketing maxchristianhansen Yes, there are definitely plenty of extroverts that are great CMs, I don’t want to take that away from anyone. I just fell in love with it because I can communicate with confidence. If we were all in a large room, I wouldn’t be able to do that.

        • CrackMarketing maxchristianhansen In fact, LauraPetrolino is one of them. She rocks!

        • yvettepistorio CrackMarketing maxchristianhansen Ahhhh…..thank you so much for that. My day=Officially Made 🙂 🙂

  • jafoulds

    william_ruz Very similar, indeed. You certainly should be credited.

    • jafoulds william_ruz I responded to you on Twitter, but see you commented here, too. I run Arment Dietrich and Spin Sucks. I appreciate you’re not buying Yvette’s comment, but let’s be real…this is the blogosphere. I wrote a post about introverts much before you did. Should I require you credit me? Unfortunately, there aren’t many original thoughts and I’ve been recommending business leaders put introverts into social media positions long before you wrote your blog post.
      We have extremely high standards here. If someone were to plagiarize, it is a fireable offense. We take it very seriously. 
      There is nothing in your post that speaks to it being lifted. The copy, the subheads, and the language aren’t even simliar. Yvette did the kind thing and gave you a link, but I stand behind my employees and their work. I assure you it was not copied.

      • william_ruz

        ginidietrich Like yourself, I work in the blogosphere so I am under no illusion to the fact that there are thousands of articles out there about introverts and it’s not an original topic.  I also think it’s great that you wrote about introverts too. But in your words, “lets get real”, it’s not about who wrote it first. It’s about the fact that this post is a clear copy of mine and just from reading the two posts you can clearly see that and   several people have verified this too.
        I think it’s commendable that you stand behind your employees but the truth is clear.  If I thought otherwise, I wouldn’t waste my time calling out a person and a company who has more influence and a bigger audience and platform than me.

      • william_ruz I 100% disagree with you. I printed out both copies of the blog posts and there is nothing that looks the same. I not only read the two posts; I compared them.
        Your post is about why social media won’t work. You talk about customer service sucking, being a control freak as a business leader, and being resistant to change. I can point to many blog posts that talk about those very same things, but this isn’t one of them.
        She talks about why introverts make better community managers than their extroverted colleagues. In fact, I don’t see anywhere in here where she talks about your three key themes.
        What you’re insinuating is very serious business. It could get Yvette fired. Are you prepared to own that?

      • william_ruz

        ginidietrich  Looks like I gave you the wrong link. Apologies for that. Just to clarify, the post I wrote that I am refferring to is this one: http://88creative.ca/introverts-make-the-best-social-media-managers/
        I wrote about why introverts make the best social media managers and I gave 3 reasons why and explained each point. In Yvette’s post, she not only used the same reasons and explantions I did, but her wording and sentence structure is very close to mine. After reading both posts and reading each paragraph, can you see the similarities?
        I am just pointing out what is obvious to me based on the evidence. How you choose to or choose not to reprimand and discipline Yvette is your prerogative.

      • william_ruz ginidietrichThis is the link I put in this post. I agree it’s a great post. I don’t see the similarities of the sentence structure. This is my writing style. We do have some of the same points, but those are attributes of introverts. I initially got the idea from @ginidietrich because I’ve read her previous posts about being an introvert. 
        When I wrote this post I did some research, looking for qualities of introverts, and came across an older Forbes article on the subject. I have since credited that article in the piece, though I did not copy the author’s work, but merely drew inspiration from it.
        I’m sorry you feel I copied your work. I did not do such a thing. If you read my previous posts, you’ll see this is my writing style. I’ve been writing about social media and community management for two years now and I make these points about how community managers need to listen before they jump in conversations, to think first then form a response, etc in most of them. All of my posts attribute any ideas or quote people in my posts. I would never do such a thing.

  • william_ruz Hey William! It’s a common topic so I can see the  similarities and I certainly did not copy yours, but I’m going to link to it b/c after you raised the issue, I did read your post and think it’s a really great.

    • william_ruz

      yvettepistorio  @http://www.livefyre.com/profile/6264/ Thanks for the response but I’m not buying it. Just from reading both of the posts you can clearly see that not only are the main ideas similar, but the sentence structure and the words used are similar too. You’ve just changed things around here and there. Please don’t take me for a fool.
      More than anything, I’m disappointed that as someone who works in social media, you dont seem to understand one of the basic rules of social media etiquette; give credit where credit is due. Going forward, I hope you keep this incident in mind before you attempt to lift copy from someone else’s content and take credit for it. Pay it forward

  • william_ruz Hey William, I can appreciate your concern that you be credited for your work, when that is appropriate. We have very high standards at Arment Dietrich and I can assure you that none of us would ever plagiarize another author’s work. That there are similarities between the two posts may well be due to the fact that many people are addressing this topic online. I found another post, with similarities, that Yvette also did not plagiarize: http://www.people-results.com/introverted-networking-tips-building-quality-relationships/#.UYrJtytAS34. I agree with Yvette, after having read your post, that it’s a good one and well worth sharing.

  • ty_frank

    I agree!  It gets a little frustrating reading job listings for cmgr’s that want all type A outgoing personalities.  Thank you for sharing what I have been thinking for years.

    • ty_frank My pleasure 🙂 I’m definitely more outgoing online than offline and that’s why I was so drawn to community management.

  • Really interesting post and the reason I’m a social media manager makes so much more sense now. Maybe we’ll meet sometime. I’m the gal in the OTHER corner of the room.

    • Word Ninja Hahaha!! Well now that we’ve talked online, I may not be so awkward. When you’re in Chicago, make sure you let me know 🙂

      • yvettepistorio Word Ninja I live in the suburbs and need to get to one of those cool conferences everyone talks about.

  • Introvert! **hand raised**

    • MackCollier

      belllindsay Introverts unite!  Glad I am in good company with you and yvettepistorio!

      • MackCollier belllindsay yvettepistorio We should start a group on LinkedIn called Introverts Unite.

        • yvettepistorio MackCollier We already have one. I mean….never mind…. 😉

  • Like reading myself in a mirror.

    • LisaDJenkins Twinsies!!!

      • yvettepistorio LisaDJenkins I swear, for years I though there was something really wrong with me. When online communications started I had a hard time reconciling my ability to function well there with my inability to come out of the corner in real world situations. Then I found Lisa Petrilli and everything began to make sense. Since then I’ve found that what I used to view as limitations are actually the assets (that you touched on) that make me great at my job. I think the value in posts like this is that they help brands to understand that while they are attracted the idea of a dynamic, look at me, full of hype personality crafting their voice, people like us bring much needed stability to a fast paced, fluid environment.

  • Totally an introvert here as well. I also agree that I was drawn to community management for the same reasons you cite above.  I  have actually become more extroverted because of it. I have more self-confidence now going into any situation, but I still need my time alone to re-charge.

    • susansilver Yeah, I”m definitely getting more and more self confidence. ginidietrich belllindsay and Allen Mireles all tell me to trust my gut whenever I doubt myself so slowly but surely, I’m starting to do that. But like you said, I need my time alone too.

  • First of all Yvette, I’d like to say how FANTASTIC I think it is that even in responding to the comments in this very article about being a great community manager, your skills and extraordinary talents at this role are clearly on display….
    Second, as the President of the Extroverts club, I’d like to stand up for my race and say…”hey, we are kinda ok too!”
    Now that I got that out of the way, this post really did make me think about what social media skills I have that I’ve developed to fit the medium, despite my natural tendencies, and which fit ok with my extroverted ways. I’ve been in this world for so long, so that is a bit tricky, but definitely worth the exploration. I will say that I’ve definitely had to work hard to teach myself to think through things more throughly before I respond. I have had to force myself to develop a bit more of a filter than I would naturally. 
    The two biggest struggles I have as an extrovert in the social world are:
    1) I’m highly affected by external circumstances (one of the greatest downfalls as an extrovert, in my opinion), social can be an emotional rollarcoaster sometimes and I struggle not to be personally affected or take things people say or do to heart. I will often get my feelings hurt because I take everything way too personally.
    2) I want to be involved in everything, I get hyped up and excited around people and conversations and I want to be part of it all. Leading to focus issues and overwhelm at what I’m missing out on! Haha!
    However, as an extrovert, relationships are EVERYTHING to me. People and interacting with them are what makes my world go round. I’m therefore very skilled at creating and fostering relationships since they are the center point of everything I do.
    Really great article from a really great community manager. All you ladies here are excellent at making everyone feel special and wanted, which is a hard thing to do in a community this large of extremely opinionated (yet awesome) people 🙂

    • LauraPetrolino Thanks Laura! I think extroverts can make great community managers too, don’t get me wrong. I just found what drew me to social media was that I felt so comfortable talking to people online. When I go to conference, I tend to just go by the people I know. I’m getting better, but terrible at starting a conversation in person. It can be really awkward sometimes!!

      • yvettepistorio LauraPetrolino I’m so in love with Laura right now. 😉

        • belllindsay yvettepistorio 🙂 Right back at both of you lovely ladies!

  • Hello fellow introvert!! These are great (and true) points. It has always struck me how much we introverts are thinking on the inside that just doesn’t make it to the outside …. I think social media has changed *some* of that for me — I can click “like’ on a sarcastic post and support a line of thought that is similar to mine even if I am not shouting it from the rooftops. Here’s a post I wrote about introverts: http://biggreenpen.com/2012/01/12/truly-thankful-a-mama-kat-writing-prompt/

    • biggreenpen OMG, I wish I had this post when I wrote mine!!! I totally would’ve shared your post too! Introverts unite!

  • Great post Yvette! I am all about Dan Pink’s new term (or new to me!) Ambivert. I am an introvert too, in that I like to have some down time to reflect and renew my energy. I am sure that would surprise a lot of my “online” friends, and maybe some in person ones, too, but in my off hours I chill at home with my pups and my book. Really not a “party” person! Why I need to team up with my awesome counter part LauraPetrolino to work the virtual room more effectively. As an aside, when I get awkward and uncomfortable, I act like a big goof. Which you probably already know.

    • RebeccaTodd It would be my honor to be your wing woman!

      • LauraPetrolino RebeccaTodd Haha! I like that term too. I do like interacting with people and sometimes (ginidietrich knows this too) I get so overwhelmed and just need to socialize, but I prefer to do that with my husband or sisters. I too would rather chill at home with my pup and a book or movie than go party. My husband always calls me lame, but that’s my idea of fun.

    • RebeccaTodd LauraPetrolino Rebecca, you are the ultimate kook of kooks. 🙂 And that’s why I love you so.

  • This describes me perfectly! I am nothing but an awkward ball of nerves in a social setting. I will actually avoid phone calls in favor of emailing — especially when dealing with new people. 🙂 My biz partner and I laugh about how perfectly we are suited for each other. She is a social butterfly, but hardly ever jumps on social media. Same with my husband now that I think about it. If it weren’t for him, I would rarely venture outside my close circle of friends!

    • TaraGeissinger OH MY GOD ME TOO!! I hate phone calls. 🙂

      • belllindsay TaraGeissinger Me three! I despise the telephone. Also, I have recently been introduced to the concept of a “tweet up” (I know, get with the times, Kate) which sounds tailor-made for people like us. It’s a networking event with a built-in excuse to stare at your phone when you’re uncomfortable. Awesome.

        • Kato42 belllindsay TaraGeissinger LOL I’ll put in a word for us introverts participating in Tweetups without actually spending the whole time with our faces in our phones! You have the added advantage (usually) of having an established Twitter relationship with the people — and the ones I have been to have involved more actual chatting and not so much focus on our devices — they’re a good bridge activity for us introverts IMO. 🙂

        • biggreenpenKato42belllindsayTaraGeissingerI would actually be open to a Tweetup for that very reason. I do MUCH better when I have some sort of history with someone. If they already know that I’m a sarcastic frazzled triplet mom who’s six feet tall it helps save me from all of the nonsense small talk too. (No, I did NOT play basketball. This height is wasted due to an innate fear of balls being thrown at me at a high velocity. Thank God there is no cell phone video footage of me playing volleyball. I am pretty sure I my playing skills were modeled after Phoebe Buffay’s running.)
          I also follow the Introverted Entrepreneur on Facebook. If you guys haven’t found her already, here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/TheIntrovertEntrepreneur

        • TaraGeissinger biggreenpen Kato42 belllindsay You have triplets?! OMG, I did not know that!!! 
          It’s funny to realize how many of us are in fact introverts. Love it!

    • TaraGeissinger 😀 I avoid calls too!!! Twinsies!!

    • TaraGeissinger Is phone call avoidance an introvert thing? Because that totally explains why I hate phone calls!

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  • Love!  I’m a self-professed shy introvert, so I have spent a lot of time thinking (brooding? lol) over that part of this topic as well. More and more, I am realizing that the introvert can add immense value in ways that may never even occur to the extrovert. The Susan Cain book really revolutionized my thinking on this — but I think that was after being inspired by the success stories of the many introverts in this community right here.
    I think the key is for an organization to cultivate acceptance, understanding and opportunities for introverts, so that your product or service doesn’t miss out on the insights they can give!  It seems like community management is a great opportunity for introverts to shine!

    • dwaynealicie I agree (obviously!) It’s really helped me break out of my shell so to speak. I’ll never forget that first tweet though…I was TERRIFIED!! But since then, it’s been nothing but fun 🙂

  • I’m definitely an introvert who gets mistaken as an extrovert all the time. I enjoyed all of the points above, and I appreciate finding my “quiet and happy place” that usually involves a book or some sports activity.
    One exception for me…I rarely exude calm. I’ve gotten better with age, but my wife used to say the pressure of an entire room would go up just by me walking into it. I’m a “tad intense”.

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  • This is a great blog post and has got me thinking about the role introverts can play as community managers.  I am a self-confessed extrovert but often advising clients on social media communications and how to make them work for them.  Much inspired by your insight here Yvette.

  • Be A Top Producer

    Love this! I am an introvert and very much behave the way you described in your article.  Thanks for sharing the info!

  • Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs test yvettepistorio? I only ask because some people like me are both intro and extroverted. I love parties and crowds. No problems meeting new people or speaking my mind. But I also love alone time. Being in the woods by myself or reading a book or staying in at night.
    It is worth learning about. Has helped me understand other people immensely. I always wondered why so many people were slow to get my humor or understand things I talk about. But then found that 75% of people communicate differently than me who is an abstract communicator. This is something I struggle with when I blog and write copy. Abstracts use a lot of analogies and most people don’t relate as well to that.

    • Howie Goldfarb yvettepistorio ENTJ FTW!!!! 
      But enough about me…I totally agree! Myers-Briggs and other similar personality testing has not only taught be alot about myself and how I best operate, but also about others and how to better understand and communicate with them.
      One of my favorite classes in grad school was “The Personalities of Leadership” and we examined all of the great leaders of our time (in multiple industries and sectors) and dissected their personalities and how they used/misused them (for success or failure)

    • yvettepistoriosorry this link wasn’t working before! http://www.myersbriggs.org/

      • Howie Goldfarb Suuure Howie 😉 I haven’t taken that one, but have taken similar tests and I’m not sure what the other letters are but I do get introvert. But I’ve always wanted to take the Myers-Briggs test…maybe it should be on my bucket list!

    • photo chris

      Howie Goldfarb yvettepistorio Hello my fellow ambivert! I just learned this term and am in love with it; it explains so much. depending on my mood I always fall a little one way or the other to the introvert/extrovert line- usually the opposite of whatever I am AT THAT MOMENT…. The true definition is supposed to be found in where you draw your best energy.  So if I take that test after several hours or even days of speaking with people, every fiber of my being is screaming at me to curl into a fetal position in silence. But, if I’ve been “desk bound” for awhile I REALLY need to make a connection or I cannot do one more thing. I’d like to learn more about being an abstract communicator- I have this issue ALL THE TIME and don’t get it!

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