Community Building

What's the difference between a community manager and a social media manager?

Difference between community manager and social media manager

Community Management and Social Media Marketing are two practices born at the early age of social networks. People did the mistake of considering both as identical whereas each of them means radically different things.

They are very close, because they work together. They also share some overlaps that make their boundaries even more difficult to see, but the difference is real! And it is important to know about it to ensure your efforts will not go to waste. Your success depends on it.

Let’s check the definitions

Social media manager

Individual in an organization trusted with monitoring, contributing to, filtering, measuring and otherwise guiding the social media presence of a brand, product, individual or corporation […]. The goal of social media marketing is to produce content that users will share with their social network to help a company increase brand exposure and broaden customer reach. (*)

Community manager

An executive in the company who acts as the ambassador of a company or brand on the web. The community manager builds and monitors multiple communities generated in blogs, forums, social networks, etc. (*)

In other words, social media managers and community managers both use social networks but their goals are radically different. Social media managers spread brand awareness and content over social networks, while community managers use social networks to build and engage a community. The difference truly exists, even if most companies use only one job title to describe both practices.

It’s all about your goals

At the end of the day, it’s all about your goals! The ultimate goal of social media marketing is to sell as much as possible, by increasing the brand exposure or the e-reputation of the company. To this end, marketers use marketing tricks on social networks with an explicit call to action.

Unlike social media management, community management is not related to marketing. The final goal of a community manager is to effectively drive people to make a purchase with your company, but in a much more subtle way. There is absolutely no advertisement nor call to action. Community managers retain customers by developing and engaging a community of people around a brand or a topic. They work day to day on engaging and motivating people in a community so as to build a strong relationship that brings much more than just new customers:
community members are loyal, provide feedback, and let you know if anything is going wrong.

Which practice suits you best?

You are probably wondering what would be the best practice for your company: community management, social media marketing, or both?

You should ask yourself the right questions about your business, your product and your target.

  • What’s your biggest issue?
  • Do you want to advertise and sell to new customers?
  • Do you need to develop consumer trust?
  • What is your volume of visits?
  • What is your conversion rate?

The following table highlights the main differences between the roles of community manager and social media manager.

Community manager Social media manager
Time commitment Time consuming, you always have to be present for your community Less time consuming, even if the workload is still heavy
Tools Social networks, custom online and mobile platforms Social networks only
Chain of command Answers to core operations Answers to Marketing operations
Focus Community building and member engagement Online marketing and online brand strategy
Result measurability Fuzzy, it directly depends on the company objectives: level of fidelity, quantity of feedback received, … Much more easy to measure: number of new clients coming from social networks

Your conversion can help you decide

Each company and each product needs a specific approach. Generally, your conversion rate can help you in your choice:

  • if your conversion rate is low with a larger audience, you may consider community management. It will help you to improve customer engagement.
  • if your conversion rates are high with a stagnant audience, social media marketing will help you to capture a bigger audience.