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Social Media Manager vs. Community Manager: Who Does What?

by Jan Kuzel on October 15, 2021

While many are familiar with the term social media manager, not the same can be said about community manager. The two roles are often thought of as the same when, in fact, they are not.

In this article, we’ve set out to clarify the social media manager vs. community manager debate and reveal the similarities and differences between these two roles.

What is a Social Media Manager?

In straightforward terms, you can think of a social media manager as the person behind the brand’s social media personality. They give the brand a look, a voice, a persona and make sure this personality stays consistent on all social media platforms.

A social media marketing manager is in charge of any social media projects within a company, from setting up social media strategies to building a presence on all required platforms and supervising activity on these platforms. 

They represent the brand as far as social media interactions are concerned.  

Social media managers promote the brand’s products and services and distribute news about the company, the brand, or new releases on popular social media. All while keeping the message consistent and engaging the target audience.

They can work independently or as part of a team and collect and analyze social media data to better understand how to tailor the brand’s social media strategies and get more likes, shares, reactions, clicks, and conversions.

What are the must-have skills of a Social Media Manager?

The social media manager needs to fill multiple roles to be successful. They must:

  • Have the analytical skills required to interpret data and improve marketing intelligence
  • Be empathetic towards the audience to understand what they need and expect
  • Have the capacity to tailor a brand persona based on this data
  • Be able to use data to develop effective social media strategies
  • Map out the implementation of these strategies – campaigns and activities
  • Keep the brand communication consistent across all social networks
  • Create and manage all social media posts 
  • Master all the social media management tools 
  • Supervise all stages of the brand’s social media strategies and interactions
  • Effectively communicate with the brand’s audience

To achieve these, the social media manager needs to be ready to tackle multiple jobs, from strategy building and copywriting to customer support and reporting.

One of the most important skills a social media manager needs is being able to communicate effectively. Communication is the skill that will help them understand their audience, relate to them, and make the most of each interaction.

They will need to care about customers and see things from their perspective – what they want, need, and expect. This will allow them to craft efficient tactics for customer support, customer retention, and better engagement.

Next, they will need to have good analytical skills. This will allow them to analyze and use data to create strategies to keep audiences engaged and encourage their feedback and reactions.

Last but not least, a social media manager’s creativity is essential. It’s what sets the tone for the brand’s content and dictates the success of audience interactions. Sharing exciting and engaging content is a surefire way to keep audiences hooked and wanting more. Creativity is vital for all aspects of social media content - be it copy or visual elements.

What are the responsibilities of a Social Media Manager?

Being the brand’s voice, a social media manager will actively participate in every social interaction with the brand's audience on social channels, regardless if they are customers, leads, partners, employees, media, etc.

Some of the main responsibilities include:

  • Setting social media goals to support marketing efforts
  • Developing a short and long-term strategy 
  • Ensuring the brand’s presence on all platforms
  • Keeping the brand message consistent
  • Crafting engaging content and ensuring it is delivered with the right frequency
  • Tracking brand sentiment in real-time
  • Mapping out campaigns and activities to generate leads and increase conversion rates
  • Creating and supervising campaign budgets
  • Hiring and managing the social media team
  • Collecting and analyzing marketing intelligence data
  • Cooperating with other departments such as sales or customer service
  • Liaising with relevant influencers and bloggers to grow the brand’s reach
  • Monitoring the competition
  • Tracking social media KPIs

 

What is a Community Manager?

A brand’s social media manager ensures the brand is present online and interacts with the community and potential customers. A community manager takes the idea of a brand interacting with its audience to the next level.

The community manager is posting on behalf of the brand. They use their name or an alias and focus on building engagement within the community, allowing them to connect with the audience at a deeper level.

Community managers mainly:

  • initiate discussions with community members to understand customer needs
  • join community member discussions to identify how the product/service can be improved
  • address queries or issues raised by the brand’s audience
  • ask for and encourage customer feedback
  • address concerns and complaints
  • offer customer support and give community members access to additional resources
  • grow the brand’s community and brand awareness

A community manager’s central role is to help the brand establish itself and grow by focusing on a deeper connection with the community members.

Engaging in discussions with users, the community manager learns valuable information about customer expectations and needs, all with the end goal of improving the customer experience.

This valuable information can include:

  • frequently asked questions
  • reoccurring criticism
  • ideas for new products, new features and improvements
  • customer feedback in the form of regular surveys

What are the must-have skills of a Community Manager?

Just like the social media manager, the community manager’s primary skills must include communicating with the customers and understanding their needs.

They must be empathetic as to what users need from the brand or the products and make them feel that their opinion matters.

The community manager must be skilled in being active in online communities, driving engagement and expanding discussions about the brand or its products.

This means they need to:

  • Know how to listen to their audience
  • Know when to talk and what to say to address community concerns or queries
  • Be open to understanding the customer’s point of view
  • Offer customer support and give solutions

On top of these communication and networking skills, a community manager must also possess analytical and critical thinking skills.

Engaging with customers on a deeper level is a great way to collect valuable information and drive the brand forward. Subsequently, this information can help develop and implement targeted marketing campaigns, create new product features or new products.

What are the responsibilities of a Community Manager?

A community manager’s main responsibility is to create an online user community and implement strategies to drive engagement and grow that community.

They must always be on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and engage with the user community.

This can include:

  • identifying new platforms to create communities on
  • joining discussions about the brand or product to form a positive image of the brand
  • identifying topics of interest to the users
  • initiating talks on hot topics

The main responsibilities of a Community Manager are:

  • Set up and develop a user community on all relevant platforms
  • Use the information they collect while engaging with members to set up targeted strategies and campaigns
  • Identify product weak points and strong points
  • Determine the need for new product features
  • Address customer queries or complaints
  • Give community members access to particular company resources 
  • Find new and exciting ways to keep community members involved
  • Inform about potential updates through social media platforms or other communication channels
  • Identifying ways to efficiently collect feedback, such as customer surveys

The end goals of a community manager’s activity are:

  • Increasing brand and product awareness
  • Increasing brand and product visibility within the community
  • Driving user engagement by encouraging reactions, shares, impressions, feedback, clicks
  • Increasing the number of community members, the number of followers, subscribers, website visitors
  • Bring new products or services to the attention of the community
  • Developing interactive channels to grow user commitment and loyalty
  • Troubleshooting technical issues
  • Offering customer support

What do Social Media Managers and Community Managers have in common?

As you can probably tell, social media managers and community managers have quite a few things in common. After all, this is why the two positions are often thought of as being the same. And why you will sometimes see one person performing both jobs.

First of all, the two roles both focus on social media platforms, and both interact with potential or existing customers. They both answer audience questions and provide information about the brand and its products.

The social media manager provides mode general information for a broader audience. The community manager provides more technical answers to user queries.

Secondly, both roles' ultimate goal is to increase brand awareness and reach, and both roles contribute by raising awareness and engagement on social media.

In addition, social media managers and community managers are in a unique position to collect important information about what a brand’s audience wants and how they perceive the brand. Their jobs also allow them to sway how the brand is perceived, which is precious information for the management team. 

Many times, social media managers and community managers will work together to build strategies and create content.

For instance, the community manager can provide inside information to the social media manager about what content the community wants or expects. On the other hand, the social media manager can coordinate with the community manager to release information about a new product.

What are the main differences between a Social Media Manager and a Community Manager?

Even though they may be similar, the roles of a social media manager and community manager are quite different.

The key differences lay in how each manager interacts with the audience and how they set up their strategies.

On the one hand, the social media manager will focus on more immediate action that boosts sales. This may include:

  • Promoting products or services on social media platforms
  • Improving the brand’s reach
  • Attracting more followers
  • Encouraging more social media shares and mentions
  • Increased website traffic
  • Better conversion rates

On the other hand, the community manager’s job is focused on the long-term goal of building and developing a strong user community.

This means they:

  • Encourage open communication and feedback from users
  • Advocate for the brand and take action to support its positive image
  • Troubleshoot and provide technical information and support to users
  • Cultivate relationships with the community members
  • Identify user pain points and how to address them
  • Identify opportunities to serve customer needs better
  • Increase customer engagement and loyalty

In the end, the community manager’s success is also measured in the number of followers, mentions, or shares they get. The main difference in how they achieve these goals is in the strategies they apply to do it.

The community manager will play the long game, nurturing a strong relationship with the audience and building trust to establish the brand and drive loyalty. They act more like advocates for the brand.

The social media manager will also aim to build trust and focus more on reaching short-term goals that translate into sales. They act more like promoters for the brand.

In the end, both positions are essential for building a solid online presence. And they both can drive the brand forward and contribute to its long-term growth and success.

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