Social Media Manager vs. Community Manager

There is an ongoing debate. Most of the job descriptions out there are confusing the roles of social media manager and a community manager. Their tasks overlap and often one person is expected to do it all. Let’s clear this up right now: these are two different roles, and they should collaborate daily. Together, these professionals are an extremely powerful force for any business.

A history lesson might help here. The social media manager role came about at the time Facebook and Twitter were really picking up speed. In early 2009 the social media manager role wasn’t popular yet, and if you Googled “online community manager (CM) ” the information that came up was mostly about residential communities. The online CM role started in the multiplayer gaming industry in the mid 1990’s.

You maybe wonder how I know all this. My community building career began in April, 2009. I was coached by successful gaming community experts and given the opportunity to lay the foundations of my own digital style in an eLearning environment. I was tasked with building a community from the ground up by applying unique techniques and strategies inspired by the massive multiplayer online role-playing games. My first virtual community grew to 200,000 community members.

Let’s identify the key responsibilities for the two roles being discussed.

Social Media Manager

A social media manager (SM) is more of a content creator and storyteller. They’re strong marketeers skilled at customer acquisition. They are actively creating content to build awareness about the brand and grow its following.

Content planning and scheduling are two of their top responsibilities. They monitor its performance and interact with the brand’s followers who are engaging with the content. This may be why sometimes a brand confuses the roles of media manager and community manager. Media managers are a frontline face, but their function is to monitor, listen and respond to users in a social way while cultivating leads and sales.

They’re often skilled at social media advertising, but this is not a must. With Facebook being one of the most cost-effective ways to advertise, the demand is high, and many SM experts wear the advertising hat, as well.

While much of their output is in writing, visual content to accompany their posts is crucial. Social media managers craft marketing messages that speak on behalf of a brand to a specific target group within an audience. They can create social media designs using Photoshop or Canva. Video creation is becoming increasingly important, as well. What tools a brand uses to create content depends on their budget and team structure.

The Social Manager’s top areas of expertise:

– Content Creation & Management
– Strategic Branding & Visuals
– Organic Brand Awareness & Paid Advertising
– Social Influence & Leadership

Community Manager

A community manager speaks to the community itself. The community manager’s main function is customer retention. I refer to them as relationship nurturers. They’re a two-way-bridge between a brand and its customers.

Experienced community professionals are goal and ROI oriented. They deal with data and communication tactics to meet the needs of its members, entertain them and help them progress in their professional and personal lives.

A community leader communicates the members’ needs across an entire organization. They ensure that the company’s interests are sought after at all times by the community manager, yet this happens in a healthy and beneficial manner in relation to the community members.

A CM should be familiar with customer satisfaction research as a way of increasing revenue; for instance, the Net Promoter Score method. They act as the voice of the organization among its customers. They make sure the brand is hearing and implementing customer feedback. Remember, modern customers don’t just consume content and services. They want to be part of the creation process.

A community manager boosts the brand’s retention rates and propels growth by setting up a healthy ecosystem in which organic word-of-mouth and a referral system can thrive.

The Community Manager’s top areas of expertise:

– Ecosystem Creation and Management
– Loyalty Management & Gamification
– Community Support & Moderation
– Leadership & Virtual Team Management

In conclusion, daily check-ins and mutual strategic planning should take place. Clear goals and metrics must be set for both roles individually. They are both representing the brand on the frontlines, each to their own purpose, but following one and the same mission.