Being More Than Just a Representative

Monitoring Social Media is One Thing… Being a Community Manager is So Much More

Social media and community managers seem to be closely affiliated; however, their roles are drastically different. Some companies need to have a community outside of social media, while others would simply be wasting their time and money. But how do you decide whether or not to have a community, and where do you get started?

 

What should a social media manager or an online community manager be doing for your company?

Vanessa DiMauro, in an article titled “Social Media Manager vs. Online Community Manager: Same or Different?,” talks about the different roles of a social media manager and an online community manager within an organization.

Social media is tied to sales & marketing. Online communities are tied to product development & customer service. In the end, it all equates to money. Photo taken by Zachary J. Prutzman. All rights reserved.

Social media is tied to sales & marketing. Online communities are tied to product management & customer service. In the end, it all equates to money.
Photo taken by Zachary J. Prutzman. All rights reserved.

Social media managers can be tied closely to marketing and sales – they try to drive leads, raise awareness of products/services, give visibility to the company and its products, increase sales, and increase event attendance. They are trying to have as many people know about the company as possible.

Online community managers take on a role that can be tied more closely to product management and customer service, with a little bit of sales as well. They take feedback from customers and implement it into product development. They increase the utilization of the products. They answer customers’ questions and seek to reduce call center traffic by allowing customers to help each other. And they promote events and achieve customer retention/satisfaction.

 

Does your company even need an online community?

For most companies, social media itself is enough – there is no need for a larger online community. The key indicator is complexity; is the market and/or your product complex enough to deserve a community?

Simple, cheap products -- such as Sharpies -- do not need a community outside of social media.  Photo taken by alecs apple. All rights reserved.

Simple, cheap products — such as Sharpies — do not need a community outside of social media.
Photo taken by alecs apple. All rights reserved.

When it comes to low complexity markets, social media is king. An article by The Community Roundtable, titled “Differentiating Between Social Media and Community Management,” uses Sharpie pens as an example of a low complexity market. The product is simple, and the company just needs to create awareness and a sense of connection to the brand. Sharpie’s business model does not support spending hundreds of dollars to create a deep relationship with a customer who buys five bucks worth of product. Also, customers rarely do background research on products that are relatively cheap, and do not need a “How to Use Your Sharpie” pamphlet (it’s pretty self-explanatory).

On the other hand, high complexity markets and complex usage markets need to develop an online community (according to The Community Roundtable’s article). In these types of markets, the decision-making process is much longer and it is tough to achieve conversion. An example of this would be the Adobe Creative Suite, which is extremely complex (and expensive). Customers benefit greatly by interacting and building relationships with other customers, along with being recommended towards affiliated product and service providers. And in these markets, the price point is much higher – meaning that the business model supports this type of community engagement.

 

So you need a community… where do you get started?

If you’ve decided that building a community via social media the way to go, there are a few things you should know to help you get started. Megan Berry, formerly of Klout, has put together a great list of how to get your social media community off the ground. You can find it here.

If you’re trying to build an online community platform separate from social media, Stephanie Gehman has produced a nice article that looks at the approach that JetBlue has taken towards developing their community. You can find that article here.

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