The Vital Roles of Social Media Manager and Community Manager

When we read about roles in organizations that participate in social media, the terms “social media manager” and “community manager” are often used interchangeably. While there are some shared commonalities, there are subtle but important differentiators.

Let’s take the role of the community manager (CM), for starters. It’s the goal of the community manager to build a bridge between people. Whether it’s for a brand, a topic/passion, or an experience, community managers look to facilitate a sense of “group” by fostering relationships, engaging users, and keeping conversations and activities progressing in a welcoming and healthy environment.

A skilled CM has the unique responsibility of serving as both the voice of the company to the customer and the voice of the customer back to the company. Sharing the passion of the community while also understanding and driving the greater good is a necessary (and sometimes tricky) balance. The ultimate goal is creating a sense of group loyalty and growth.

A community manager’s role is a combination of host, party planner, mediator, camp counselor, press secretary, rule enforcer, and support. Keeping the audience lively and engaged, welcoming new faces, setting rules and expectations, and boosting the brand’s visibility are key aspects of the position.

Sharing many of the same core aspects of the community manager, the social media manager’s role expands due to the open, public visibility of social platforms, and the marketing/PR/advertising undertones.

A social media manager is on point for driving digital communications strategy, while helping to influence and guide the public’s experience and engagement across social platforms. A social media manager’s priority is to pay close attention to the perceived value of a brand’s social networks, from positive engagement to PR crisis handling.

Social media managers craft the content calendars and often write the material that fills up that calendar. He/she schedules posts across multiple channels, with a keen understanding of when best to engage an audience, where, and how. Knowing the habits and behaviors of communities as they pertain to the unique customs and abilities of each social platform is a must, as is tracking growth via KPIs and undulating trends to help determine success.

Social media managers must be on their toes. Innovation added to fresh styles of communication help maintain and grow social media presence, and social media managers need to be ever-present in monitoring competitive campaigns, new social offerings, the latest community trends, memes, gifs, and pop culture overall. Meanwhile, the heart of the community will beat strong if the energy, passion, and support a community manager puts into the environment is high and genuine.

In essence, the social media manager develops the material and experience a company needs to bring in and help grow a brand’s community on a public stage. The community manager focuses on managing and growing the collaborative and interactive experiences of the community itself. They’re both interacting with the audience, but go about their work with different focuses and goals that are equally vital to developing a strong relationship with your customers.

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