Community Managers and Social Media Managers: Same Thing, Right?

Wrong.

But, to be fair they are easy to confuse. They share similar jobs but the extent to which a manager does them is what separates the two.

Image Courtesy of David Feng.

In the Community Roundtable’s blog post titled, “Differentiating Between Social Media and Community Management,” they explain that, everyone is a community manager…everyone has a group of constituents which could be cultivated to drive better performance” and that, “communities and social media are good for different types of business outcomes.” In the post they use bullet points to explain the differences between a Community Manager (CM) and Social Media Manager (SMM):

A Community Manager:

  • Welcomes members to the community
  • Moderates discussions

Social Media Manager:

  • Creates content: blogging, vlogging, podcasts – all with the hope stimulating a conversation
  • Manages SM tools (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc.)

However Deb Ng, author of “5 Things Community Management Isn’t & 5 Things a Community Manager IS states that one of the five things a CM is, is a content creator. Confusing, right? Ng claims that, “what we post on the social networks is also considered content and we take great care in crafting these messages.” Funnily enough, Ng begins her blog post by saying, “though the community manager role continues to evolve, there’s still confusion as to what an online community manager does.”

According to Ng, a CM is someone who:

  • Is the voice and face of the brand; someone who will answer your questions and make sure you are connected to the right person.
  • Is a strategist; someone who carefully weighs their words and actions and makes sure that, “even the simplest of actions are planned out.”
  • Is a content creator (see above)
  • Is a numbers cruncher; they spend a lot of time looking at numbers, researching demographics, who’s interacting with you through what method or platform and how is the community reacting to your campaign.
  • Is a communicator; someone who knows how to talk and write and can do it well.

Image Courtesy of brandpilgrim.

Vanessa DiMauro, author of “Social Media Manager vs. Online Community Manager: Same or Different” initially says, “social media managers bring the guests to the table and community managers welcome them” but eventually turns to Blaise Grimes-Viort, a colleague, who she quotes as saying that community managers are in charge of customer relationships with the brand or product while social media managers are in charge of brand recognition and the reputation outside of the site.

DiMauro later includes a chart showing the different roles of a SMM and CM. Speaking as someone who once thought her job was to be a CM, I’m a SMM, this is one of the best charts to help explain the difference between CM and SMM:

Community Manager:

  • Customer retention and satisfaction
  • Improve customers’ ability to get help from each other

Social Media Manager:

  • Raise awareness of products or services
  • Visibility of company, products or services

DiMauro then includes a role that both CM and SMM share: event attendance. She claims SMMs take to public channels while CMs take to community channels. It’s a very interesting article and I highly recommend reading it. DiMauro also talks about Business to Business (or B2B).

Another good article to read that I didn’t talk about is called, “You may not actually be a Community Manager – and that’s ok” by Justin Isaf. In his blog post he talks about the difference between CM and SMM. Here’s a little taste of what says: “Social Media – people talking with the brand. Community Management – people talking with each other.”

So what are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below what you think the differences are between CM and SMM. Are there any or are they slowly combining?

1 comment for “Community Managers and Social Media Managers: Same Thing, Right?

  1. February 27, 2014 at 10:24 am

    In most corporations today, large and small, everyone wears multiple hats or job descriptions. Therefore, I think that you will see in the next few years these jobs will be combined into one. Great article – thank you!

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