With Community Manager Day (#CMAD) now in the past and the countdown for its 5th birthday is officially underway, I have come across an interesting yet important question that has not really been addressed. Community Manager Day is used to celebrate the achievements and progress made by individuals who make it their goal to foster and engage a digital community. The big question that comes to mind is what is the difference between a community manager and a social media manager? The two terms seem to overlap since both positions deal with the same communication medium, but there are some definite differences between the two positions. As stated in this article published by The CR Blog, when answering this question, the first thing you must look at is the difference between the first part of each title: ‘social media’ and a ‘community’.
When talking about ‘social media’:
- The network around each set of content is not as closely linked to each other
- The content released is not typically used to bring the network closer together but rather just to add to the current social conversation being had
- Comments made on content are not used to start a conversation
When talking about ‘community’:
- Members of a community are actively engaged and interact with each other consistently
- There is a common purpose that is acknowledged by all community members
- Content is used to spark a conversation and engagement from community members
BONUS: There is a strong emphasis put on relationships and authentic connections rather than followers
Low Complexity Markets
The major difference between these two is the motivation behind the work that they do and the effects that it has on the content they produce. Social media managers produce content for simplistic networks. “In low complexity markets and use cases, the focus is on social media because the relationships don’t need to be deep.”
This is the type of market where the content isn’t used to connect people to each other, but rather to provide an infrastructure to connect people to a brand. While there is a sense of familiarity established with the brand, creating a tight knit network doesn’t matter as much as profiting off of a product.
This is where social media comes in handy. A social media manager can produce content that will highlight your brands best qualities by publishing UGC (user generated content) and responding to followers talking about your brand.
High Complexity Markets
Managing a community involves complete engagement within a high complexity market. This is the type of market in which services, products, and users are completely intertwined. All interactions circle around one common idea or purpose which a community manager must always be aware of.
Within these markets, a true community is formed around the content that is shared. These people not only follow each other’s content, but they share ideas and information with the goal of building meaningful relationships. Through these relationships, users can continue to explore their interests knowing that the content they are receiving comes from liked minded individuals
Using well developed communication and listening skills, a community manager sets the tone for these relationships while letting them form organically; providing support and guidance along the way.
All in all, these two roles are very different and yet vital in their own ways. If I had to summarize it in one phrase, I wound say that a social media manager will take good care of your brand and your following but a community manager will take great care of your community and those within it.