Daily Archives: February 8, 2013

An Accidental Community

This week’s readings discussed the key distinctions between social media management and community management.  The following table shows some of the similarities and differences (the size of the “x” and accompanying comments describe the scope of that facet):

Social Media Management Community Management
Strategy X (campaign objectives) x (community health)
Content X (blogs, social sites) X (blogs, forums)
Engagement X (one-to-many, transactional) X (one-to-one, many-to-many, relationships)
Analytics and Metrics X (campaign ROI) x (community health)

Clearly, these functions have some overlap.  A social media manager (SMM) sets strategy, creates and curates content, drives engagement, and assesses results; a community manager (CM) may collaborate with a SMM on developing content and identifying engagement tactics.  As Jenn Pedde describes in What a community manager is not, “A community manager does work on social communities some of the time.”  However, “‘managing accounts’ is not the sole responsibility.”

These two roles also have important differences.  A SMM manages an organization’s perception by engaging individually with members on a social platform.  In contrast, a CM manages relationships between an organization and its constituents by facilitating conversation among community members, often strengthening online encounters by hosting offline events (Vanessa DiMauro, Justin Isaf, Jenn Pedde).  In other words, a community manager builds, develops, and sustains relationships.

In this post, I’d like to discuss in the context of an organization with which I volunteer whether the management of its primary social site can be categorized as social media management, community management, or both.

A Community By Chance

Upstate New Yorkers for Nebraska (UNY for Nebraska) was chartered by the University of Nebraska Alumni Association in 2011 to help connect and engage alumni, friends, and fans of the University.  Its primary online properties are a Facebook page and Twitter account.  Facebook has been the primary vehicle used to inform and engage followers about chapter and University news and activities.

UNY for Nebraska has a core group of 50 people who regularly attend chapter events and have opted in to email communications.  This modest audience is far exceeded by the chapter’s 180 individual Facebook fans.  Consequently, response to and engagement with site content can vary widely depending on an individual’s investment in the group.

    • Typical posts receive a like or comment or two, while photos tend to be shared more often by Facebook fans.
    • Not surprisingly, posts representing shared experiences garner more engagement (example below).
    • Community members also post their own content to the page, and fellow members frequently respond.


What Next?


This week’s readings differentiated the outcomes of social media management from those of community management.  While a social media platform serves as a basis for an organization to connect individually with constituents, an online community provides an environment for participants to authentically connect with each other.  In You may not actually be a Community Manager – and that’s ok, Justin Isaf writes that community managers “‘win’ if they put themselves out of a job because their users are talking to each other…,” whereas social media professionals “‘win’ if they maintain a conversation with every person who touches a brand…”

Upstate New Yorkers for Nebraska is not yet truly engaging in community management.  The very fact that this post discussed metrics such as likes, comments, and shares underscores this assessment.  However, individuals’ alignment with UNY for Nebraska is self-selective based on their affiliation with an institution; this should be considered a powerful driver for future potential community engagement.  UNY for Nebraska’s Facebook page has organically become an ad hoc community where fans interact with others’ content (example at right).  Going forward, it would be strategically advantageous to tap an appropriately-skilled volunteer to serve as community manager to cultivate and encourage engagement between fellow Nebraska fans.

Have you ever managed a social site that seemed to be on the brink of becoming an online community?  What did you find successful in encouraging members’ engagement?

(Featured image from Flickr user SalFalko.)

Community Managers are Leaders!

Community by Jeff Kubina

Photo Credit: Community, by Jeff Kubina

The author of the book Social Media ROI, Olivier Blanchard, encourages his readers to “be a leader, not just a manager.”  This makes perfect sense given the roles and responsibilities of a Community Manager.

Allow me to explain…

Over the last few years, organizations like JCPenney and Old Navy have decided to change the title of key positions within their company, from “manager” to “leader.”  The title change was enacted to encourage people inside (and outside) the company to think differently about the company’s direction.

Why, what’s the difference?

The thought is that leaders are forward thinkers.  They work to open up avenues of communications and collaboration.  They build teams and weave a broader sense of community.  Whereas, the concept of management implies to many, a top down bureaucracy…the old way of doing things.  To be fair, all leaders are not created equal and the traits of a good leader certainly depend on the individual person and the organization, but please take a moment to consider the comparisons in the graph below.  On the “leader side” are a set of coveted leadership skills offered to us by Leadership that Gets Results.   On the “Community Manager” side are the compared set of job role descriptions set forth by 5 Things on What a Community Manager is and Differentiating between Social Media and Community Manager

Leadership Skills       VS.      Community Manger Skills

A good Leader…                                 A good Community Manager…

Takes ownership & solves problems     — Assures communities’ concerns are heard

Is flexible & willing to change course    —  Is able to adapt

Earns Trust                                                 —  Ensures trust in the brand

Allows team to communicate openly     — Offers open communication

Builds connections between people       —  Gets people talking to each other

Sets vision, goals, & objectives               — Plans & develops strategy

Inspires the team with the vision            —  Acknowledges shared purpose w/ community

Builds bonds                                               —  Builds relationships w/key community members

Builds Relationships                                 —  Strengthens relationships within the community

Is a great communicator                          —  Facilitates effective inter-team communication

Solicits input from those around them   —  Promotes productive collaboration

To be sure, a good Community Manager must take on numerous responsibilities that encompass the roles of a good leader.  And if one still needs more convincing, take a look at the definition Wikipedia offers for an “offline” Community Leader:   “Community Leaders help to build healthy communities.  They are perceived to represent a community of common interests, purpose, or practice.  They act as a liaison between that community and authorities.”   So it seems that an offline community leader and an online Community Manager perform very similar tasks, just in a different setting.

So it is settled!

I propose that it is time to update the position title of the Community “Manager” to Community “Leader.”  It is time to recognize the leadership role that the Community Manager plays within their online community and within their organizations.  They are true leaders in every sense of the word!

What other things do Community Manager’s do that make them leaders?  In what ways are they not leaders?  What would be the benefits of a job title change for Community Managers?