This week’s readings discussed the key distinctions between social media management and community management. The following table shows some of the similarities and differences (the size of the “x” and accompanying comments describe the scope of that facet):
|Social Media Management||Community Management|
|Strategy||X (campaign objectives)||x (community health)|
|Content||X (blogs, social sites)||X (blogs, forums)|
|Engagement||X (one-to-many, transactional)||X (one-to-one, many-to-many, relationships)|
|Analytics and Metrics||X (campaign ROI)||x (community health)|
Clearly, these functions have some overlap. A social media manager (SMM) sets strategy, creates and curates content, drives engagement, and assesses results; a community manager (CM) may collaborate with a SMM on developing content and identifying engagement tactics. As Jenn Pedde describes in What a community manager is not, “A community manager does work on social communities some of the time.” However, “‘managing accounts’ is not the sole responsibility.”
These two roles also have important differences. A SMM manages an organization’s perception by engaging individually with members on a social platform. In contrast, a CM manages relationships between an organization and its constituents by facilitating conversation among community members, often strengthening online encounters by hosting offline events (Vanessa DiMauro, Justin Isaf, Jenn Pedde). In other words, a community manager builds, develops, and sustains relationships.
In this post, I’d like to discuss in the context of an organization with which I volunteer whether the management of its primary social site can be categorized as social media management, community management, or both.
A Community By Chance
Upstate New Yorkers for Nebraska (UNY for Nebraska) was chartered by the University of Nebraska Alumni Association in 2011 to help connect and engage alumni, friends, and fans of the University. Its primary online properties are a Facebook page and Twitter account. Facebook has been the primary vehicle used to inform and engage followers about chapter and University news and activities.
UNY for Nebraska has a core group of 50 people who regularly attend chapter events and have opted in to email communications. This modest audience is far exceeded by the chapter’s 180 individual Facebook fans. Consequently, response to and engagement with site content can vary widely depending on an individual’s investment in the group.
- Typical posts receive a like or comment or two, while photos tend to be shared more often by Facebook fans.
- Not surprisingly, posts representing shared experiences garner more engagement (example below).
- Community members also post their own content to the page, and fellow members frequently respond.
This week’s readings differentiated the outcomes of social media management from those of community management. While a social media platform serves as a basis for an organization to connect individually with constituents, an online community provides an environment for participants to authentically connect with each other. In You may not actually be a Community Manager – and that’s ok, Justin Isaf writes that community managers “‘win’ if they put themselves out of a job because their users are talking to each other…,” whereas social media professionals “‘win’ if they maintain a conversation with every person who touches a brand…”
Upstate New Yorkers for Nebraska is not yet truly engaging in community management. The very fact that this post discussed metrics such as likes, comments, and shares underscores this assessment. However, individuals’ alignment with UNY for Nebraska is self-selective based on their affiliation with an institution; this should be considered a powerful driver for future potential community engagement. UNY for Nebraska’s Facebook page has organically become an ad hoc community where fans interact with others’ content (example at right). Going forward, it would be strategically advantageous to tap an appropriately-skilled volunteer to serve as community manager to cultivate and encourage engagement between fellow Nebraska fans.
Have you ever managed a social site that seemed to be on the brink of becoming an online community? What did you find successful in encouraging members’ engagement?
(Featured image from Flickr user SalFalko.)