Daily Archives: October 16, 2013

Community Managers vs. Social Media Managers: What’s the Difference?

In today’s media landscape, the terms “community manager” and “social media manager” have more or less become synonymous. This practice of interchanging these two roles, however, is highly inaccurate. Let’s investigate this unruly phenomenon and hopefully, by shedding some light on it, we can change our behavior (yes, I mean “our,” as in, I’ve fell victim to this, too).

Back to square one

Let’s bring it back to basics. If you talk to a lot of people, you work in social media. Social media managers want to reach every person who participates in a conversation with the brand, and truly make for an engaging experience.  If you try to get a lot of people to talk to each other, you work in community management. Community managers essentially look to eliminate their own jobs — they want the brand to come to the point where users are talking to each other, so they act as the brand’s own personal defense.

You know you want it…

 

After reading through this article, even though I thought I was “bringing it back to the basics,” I found myself more confused. I see the clear distinction that is being made here, but I asked myself, “Don’t community managers use social media to get lots of people talking to each other?” It’s safe to say that these roles have become blurred.

Especially in the consumer space (versus the business-to-business space), the audience is a lot larger and broader, and it is not always as easy to decide which person — the social media manager or the community manager — should be the one to jump in first. This idea brought up another thought in my mind: we often generalize social media, much like the roles of social media manager and community manager, and clump it into one big responsibility. However, the nature of the content produced and the platforms used truly depends on the nature of the brand. B2B brands need strong community managers and social media managers, just like consumer brands do.

So if both comm. and social media mgmt. involve social media…

What’s all this “other stuff” everyone keeps referring to that community managers are also involved with? It’s never made clear that community managers have both online and offline responsibilities. Jenn Pedde (@JPeddesums it up best:

So what does a community manager do?

Communication, moderation, guideline writing, engaging day to day online (forums, owned communities, blogs, newsletters) and offline (events, conferences, meet-ups), strategy, working with the social teams/marketing/support/product/PR/management, surveying, customer service, and a variety of other activities.

Living and learning in a digital era, it’s easy to forget that communities offline are just as — if not more important than — communities online. A lot of the conversation about the brand happens online, but we see the results of such conversations take form in an offline realm. These conversations are only really worth it if the audience can translate what they’re saying into real actions in the “real world.”

Everyone loves examples
@Sharpie benefits from a social media manager, who's engagement with the audience makes for fun content that speaks to the brand identity.

@Sharpie benefits from a social media manager, who’s engagement with the audience makes for fun content that speaks to the brand identity.

Just incase it’s not entirely clear, here are two examples of work done by a community manager and work done by a social media manager. Community managers are more focused on socially or conversationally enabled content and responding to comments. Sharpie (@Sharpie) is great example of a brand that does not necessarily benefit from a community manager, as the business model cannot support deep relationship development, but benefits highly from unique user-generated content that social media managers would create.

The online web store Etsy is a great example of a brand that is well-supported by a community manager. In order to get users conversing with one another, the community managers at Etsy hold events, create webinars and curate collections. By doing so, Etsy is giving users opportunities for users with shared interests, etc. to collaborate. Thus, if the collaboration is successful, users feel a new sense of loyalty to Etsy because they owe this newfound success to the brand itself.

 

 

Etsy community page

Etsy community page 

Now that you know how to spot the difference between a community manager and a social media manager, which do you think your brand could benefit from best? Maybe you’ll even want to pursue one of these roles as a future career!

Moderating #CMGRClass on Twitter & Google+

My moderating week did not go as well as planned. It seemed everyone who moderated before had many people involved and participation was much higher. On the flip side, I learned new things regarding moderating and while I thought this week was tough just to jump back and forth from Google+ and Twitter with only a few comments, I know that there is so much more involved regarding community management. For example, in the article by Jeff Sonderman titled How the Huffington Post handles 70+ Million Comments a Year, there can be up to 25,000 posts an hour! Now if I thought this week was challenging, I can’t imagine what they go through daily, even hourly! Although, with that volume, they have up to 30 full time moderators that work 24/7/365 in six-hour shifts where they can go through hundreds of comments an hour.

One of the biggest takeaways from this week was that regardless of how many people participated, there was still good discussion. For Huffington Post, having 100,000 comments on a post isn’t unusual and with that, you can still have a very meaningful conversation. I think the same goes with not many comments. This allows the moderator to be able to be involved in the community and participate more since there isn’t as much on the plate. I felt as though it wasn’t that difficult to respond to what everyone had to say on the posts. It allowed me to follow up with some questions.

Photo courtesy of Jon Gossier  via Flikr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Jon Gossier via Flikr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Fabrizio Van Marciano via Flikr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Fabrizio Van Marciano via Flikr Creative Commons

My Week as a Moderator

As stated above, I was hoping the discussion went a little deeper and I had more participation. I felt that I posted just as much if not more than other weeks, and I was active on Twitter. It didn’t seem that many people were responding nor was I getting many active participants on Twitter. However, with the comments we got, we were able to have a good discussion. The standout was Anne Marie, who posted on everything we put out there on Google+. We only got 1 retweet about an article I posted, and that was by Hannah. The Twitter participation was very disappointing. I would ask open ended questions and not many would respond. I have found this to be true for most weeks though, not just my week to moderate.

I learned that I shouldn’t overpower or dominate when I am moderating and I felt that I just needed to let things flow, and ask follow up questions only when needed. I am not sure if I overpowered the class with articles I found or if simply they didn’t find what I posted to be interesting. I still think to myself what I could have done better and what went wrong. I am open to suggestions for enhancing the experience and getting the class more engaged.