Pop quiz: who matters most when it comes to your social presence?

Your followers? The folks whose attention you’re trying to grab? The people sharing your stuff?

Sure, those people are important. But what if it was the people working behind the scenes that represent the real game-changers?

Think about it. Social media has become the go-to channel for customer care, content curation and branding for modern businesses. There’s a reason why keen attention to detail to your company’s social accounts is a top priority. As a result, social media and community managers are vital for your brand’s social media efforts.

Although some may think that the roles of social media manager and community manager are synonymous, their functions and responsibilities are quite distinct. In fact, here at Sprout Social, we treat each role very differently. To better illustrate these two crucial jobs, we talked to our very own Social Media Manager Darryl Villacorta, and our Community Manager Vera Flores to get the scoop on their roles, responsibilities and advice for others.

And for you existing community and social media managers out there, make your job easier and try Sprout Social free for 30-days.

What Are the Major Differences Between the Two Roles?

A social media manager is responsible for being the brand on social media.

They create content, craft copy for posts, respond to comments, answer questions and much more as the brand. Social media managers, more often than not, deal with people who have a relationship with, or have heard of, the brand.

Ever see “The Wizard of Oz?” You can think of a social media as the sort of “person behind the curtain.” For example, if you’ve ever participated in one of our #SproutChat sessions, you’ll notice the Sprout company account asking questions and responding to queries simultaneously. In short, the perfect example of a social media manager in the wild:

A community manager is responsible for advocating a brand on social networks. They create their own social persona and actively go out within the online community to connect with potential customers and advocate accordingly. Community managers typically deal with those who may or may not have heard of the business they work for, and boost awareness for the brand. Check out Vera in action:

Got it?

While the two roles may seem identical, social media managers essentially act as actual brands while community managers represent themselves on behalf of the brand they’re promoting.

What Does a Social Media Manager Job Description Look Like?

In order to come up with a completely objective job description for social media managers, we pulled 25 job listings from a LinkedIn job search for “social media manager” and created a word cloud highlighting the responsibilities of the position.

smm cloud

As you can see, the biggest trend associated with the modern social media management is the ability to strategically create and distribute a brand’s content across a variety of different social networks. If you’re an individual hunting for such a role, these are the sorts of skills you should emphasize on your application, resume or LinkedIn profile.

For example, here’s a snippet from a recent social media manager job listing on LinkedIn for Foot Locker:

foot locker social media manager job

There are other important keywords associated with most social media managers that help flesh out the scope of their role: team, support, engagement, execution, manage, opportunities and (of course) social.

Additionally, some companies might seek candidates that double-dip content creation and social media management, as noted in this job description from Monster:

monster social media manager position

Although the role might seem pretty simple on the surface, there’s obviously plenty for any given social media manager to juggle. Especially if you’re regularly handling customer concerns or work on behalf of a brand with tens of thousands of followers (or more).

For those looking to how to structure, organize and build a quality social media team, we partnered with HubSpot to provide you with this free guide! Download it now to get your social team started.

Social Media Manager Workflow

We know that social media managers spend the average day making sure customers have an above-average day, and spreading awareness for brands, but what specifically do they do? We asked Darryl to break down what a typical work day looks like for him. Keep in mind that no two days are the same for social media managers, but this will help paint a clearer picture.

How Darryl Spends His Day:

  • 35% listening and conversation
  • 25% researching and planning strategy
  • 20% creating and curating content
  • 10% team collaboration
  • 10% analytics
  • 10% dressing sharply (we added this, but who wouldn’t)

If you look at the daily habits of these two it’s pretty easy to see the similarities. They both spend a majority of their time responding to and helping our customers, followed by strategizing & executing content strategies, then analyzing their successes and meeting with the team to discuss next steps.

Requirements for Social Media Manager Jobs

Do you think you have what it takes to become a social media manager?

We analyzed the same 25 job descriptions from LinkedIn and made this word cloud based on the requirements listed by each company.

smm jobs cloud

You can see that “experience” is one of the most important prerequisites for companies recruiting social media managers.

However, don’t let that discourage you if you haven’t run social for a Fortune 500 company. Our own Darryl was able to get his start in social media management by developing a social presence for himself first.

“As an actor in Chicago, I wanted to build buzz around my work in film and theatre. Because the acting industry is very competitive, I started to use social media as a marketing tool in 2009 to amplify and promote as much of my work as possible. Not long after, I was lucky to find work with a Chicago startup managing their social media presence and the rest is history!”
-Darryl

In other words, if you’ve built up your own following independently, use that as leverage when hunting for social media manager positions.

Where to Find Social Media Manager Jobs

Now that you know you have the skill and desire to become a social media manager, the next question is: how do you find a job? Darryl thinks searching Twitter might be the most effective method:

“Hit up Twitter! Not only are there a bevy of job listings posted, you also have a unique opportunity to connect (and research) any companies you may be interested in working for; do your homework!”
-Darryl

To expand on the idea of turning to social media to find jobs, here are a couple more resources that can help you in your job search:

  • Groups on LinkedIn have a separate jobs tab. Here’s the one from the “Social Media Marketing” group.
  • Facebook Groups like “Social Media Jobs” are a great resource.
  • Twitter hashtags such as “#SocialMediaJobs” could potentially point you to an open position

It’s no surprise that social networking is perhaps the best way to uncover open social media manager positions. Also, new roles are popping up all the time as noted by this quick search for “social media manager” on LinkedIn (note the 1,200+ results):

social media manager job listings

Community Manager Job Description

We gave a description of how we view community managers at Sprout Social, but in order to objectively define the role we made a word cloud similar to the first. That said, our LinkedIn job search for “community manager” didn’t yield as many open positions, so we were limited to pulling 10 listings.

community manager cloud

Words like “growth” and “engage” are much bigger keywords in the role of community manager compared with the social media manager. This reinforces the idea that most community managers are focused on engaging with new prospects in order to grow the overall brand community.

Community managers are expected to have strong networking and communication skills. Keeping in line with the voice and personality of a brand may sound like a cakewalk, but mastering the tone of a company is often easier said than done.

As noted earlier, the skillset of a community manager is very particular and requires managers to pay close attention to every aspect of client and customer communication.

Community Manager Daily Workflow

Vera spends her time bolstering a fantastic community for Sprout Social users to thrive in, but what exactly does her day-to-day schedule look like?

How Vera Spends Her Day:

  • 40% having conversations with our brand advocates and folks in our communities
  • 20% building visibility and credibility as “Sprout Vera” by attending Twitter chats and moderating our own #SproutChat
  • 20% strategizing ways to scale our communities and connect with new people
  • 10% analyzing efforts driving the most traffic
  • 10% creating relationships with people in different teams at the office (and drinking lots of coffee)

In short, a community manager acts as an extension of the brand they represent. They’re flesh-and-blood people who get in the trenches with clients and customers, meanwhile also engaging with new prospects on a regular basis. An effective community manager basically provides brands with a face that encourages personal connections between a company and its followers.

Requirements of Community Manager Jobs

We looked back through the same 10 job descriptions from LinkedIn to find some key requirements that companies seek when looking for a community manager.

community manager requirement cloud

Based off this word cloud it seems like a lot of the companies are looking for people with 3-5 years of experience. However, don’t fret if you’re a bit below that level; try to do what our community manager Vera did to gain her first position: assist first.

“I started my career in the non-profit world sector and knew I wanted to make the switch to social media, so I started offering to manage other organization’s social media accounts in my free time to gain experience.”-Vera

Where to Find Community Management Jobs

Does the role of a community manager sound like the one for you? Here’s how Vera would recommend you find a job in the space:

“Fostering relationships is a huge competent of community management, so take time to build your own personal brand on social and turn to your own community when the time comes for a job search. Look for groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, attend meetups and join some Twitter chats to meet new folks.”
-Vera

To run with Vera’s point, here are a few social groups you could start engaging with to help your job search:

While community manager jobs may be a bit harder to hunt down, bear in mind that there are plenty of companies looking to snatch them up:

community manager job description

What’s Your Social Job Advice?

The roles of social media and community manager are both so important but easy for businesses to overlook. Understanding the difference between the two makes all the difference whether you’re trying to apply for social jobs or hire for each role internally.

If you have any advice to add, feel free to join the discussion. Whether it’s how you got involved in social media, what you think a good daily workflow is, where to find a job, or anything that could help the new faces of social, we’d love to hear from you!