- 10/21/2015


The Difference Between a Community Manager and a Social Media Manager

Not all social media roles are created equal. The lines between the roles of community managers versus social media managers often get blurred. Many organizations use the terms interchangeably and assume that a social media manager will manage community and that a community manager will be strategic in social media. That isn’t always the case.

For the sake of your career and clarity, it is important to understand the distinct responsibilities and the metrics that you pay attention to as a community manager or a social media manager. I chatted with Brea Watts, freelance community manager for women-owned small businesses and former community manager at Blackberry about the distinct differences in these roles.

A social media manager is focused more on the logistics of the various brand channels. They manage the content calendar, write copy, schedule posts, and often oversee the creation of digital assets like photos and videos. They keep the channels afloat by constantly creating and curating content while also developing strategies for growth. Community management however, is about building relationships and human insight.

A community manager is often the humanizing face of the brand in the digital space and the internal advocate for customers. They are responsible for building and nurturing relationships with key members and facilitating engagement with their community. Social listening and monitoring is an important part of their job as they funnel information internally from blogs, forums, and various social media platforms.

Simply put, a social media manager creates the content to attract and build your community, while a community manager finds the right people to target and engage with. Both roles have overlapping responsibilities when it comes to providing customer service and interacting with customers, but they interact for different reasons.

Analytics for Social Media Managers vs. Community Managers

The social media managers’ main goal is channel growth. Community managers focus on engagement. There are different metrics that matter to each. A social media manager measures success by how much content is published, how people engage with it, what kind of content performs best and what fuels the increase in followers. Community managers focus on earned media and word of mouth. They do this by keeping influencers and potential customers engaged, welcoming new audience members into their communities, and expanding the brand’s visibility through guest posts and opportunities like Twitter chats.

Through these on-going conversations, community managers can get a sense of what the sentiment is around their product, service, or brand in general. In order to be successful as a community manager, you need to keep track of the small wins and let them accumulate overtime. A tweet, an Instagram comment, a message on Facebook, a comment on a blog or forum, a conversation about your brand are all ways to track success in your role. While a social media manager tracks things like changes in numerical data, a community manager is more focused on qualitative data like sentiment and the quality of their engagement. They find meaningful human interaction just as important as the volume of engagements they receive. They work on making inferences about why their customers are happy so that they can replicate those efforts for their ideal customers and new markets.

Here at SumAll I try to fulfill both roles, and I’ll be honest – I struggle. It’s hard to figure out where to focus your efforts when you’re trying to balance between creating content and managing community. What I have learned, however, is that both roles cannot be ignored. They’re both vital to the organization and vital to your customers. I am learning new ways to organize both workflows and make sure that I’m paying as much attention to the quality of the engagement as I am to the number of engagements.

I want to hear your thoughts. Are you a community manager or social media manager? Have you been struggling with fulfilling both roles for your organization? Are these roles separate or are they done by one person? Let me know in the comments below or you can tweet us @SumAll.