Coming into this class there was an ambiguity surrounding my understanding of what exactly a community manager was. At the time, it didn’t even occur to me to think about what a community manager was not (hint: community manager =/= social media manager) . As we moved through the beginning stages of the class, I grasped the general idea behind a community manager – or so I thought. Finally, this past week, it all came together for me.
I can confidently say that I now know what being a community manager entails, generally speaking. Furthermore, I learned the distinct differences between a community manager and a social media manager. The week culminated with me interviewing Carrie Jones, the community manager over at Chegg. The interview further reinforced my perception of the responsibilities of community managers. The final verdict was this: community managers work within the company and create strategy to engage the “community” and social media managers use social networks to bring that strategy to life.
Here’s how it breaks down:
- Internal focus on communication and collaboration
- Welcoming new members to the community
- In charge of the guidelines that set parameters for community engagement
- Promoting member-to-member communication within the community
- Engaging and facilitating brand ambassadors
Social Media Manager
- External focus (outside of the brand website) on outreach and communication
- Acquisition of new members and users
- Increasing brand awareness via content creation and curation
- Participating and facilitating conversations about the brand while promptly addressing issues that arise within social network spheres
- Strategizing on optimal brand promotion using social networking tools
Similarities amongst the two
Each role is distinct in job responsibility but many aspects overlap. For example, both community and social media managers, to some degree, have to focus on metrics regarding member engagement. Neither can do their job well if they don’t keep tabs on what draws users in and what keeps them coming back. Another example, in my opinion, is that both community and social media managers need to be concerned with USG. While USG could be simply lumped along with the rest of a community manager’s responsibilities, I feel that social media managers are the ones that bring in the users that will ultimately lend the brand USG.
Improved but still improving
Because for the longest time (pretty much the entire summer up until now), I was unable to accurately distinguish the difference between the two, this post only addresses the specific characteristics of community managers versus social media managers on the most fundamental levels as understood by me. My understanding would be incomplete without the class materials, especially these two resources – this post by Vanessa Mauro and this post on the Community Roundtable blog – that lay out the differences in a most understandable manner. But furthering that understanding was the interview with Carrie Jones, which only clarified the very different nature of her job specifically in comparison to her colleagues who handle Chegg’s social media presence.
If I left out any crucial elements or misunderstood any existing concepts, please let me know! The learning is on going and I’m sure there’s plenty more I have yet to understand about what it means to be a community manager versus a social media manager.