Does the person who post as your brand on Facebook also work to develop the community that the company is part of? Should they?

Running a brand’s social media accounts is a lot of work. You’re simultaneously asked to be a customer support person, marketing person and occasionally, a graphic designer. As the social media industry has evolved, each role in the marketing team has developed along with it.

Social media in a mid-sized company is no longer one person. Typically, most companies find they need at least a social media manager and a community manager. When expanding your social media team, keep in mind that these two roles are often the first to be divided up, so it’s important to understand what their differences are. Figuring out which areas you need to cover is also up to your company’s priorities.

What are the major differences

A social media manager will post on behalf of a brand. They’re the voice of the brand and are responsible for posts, replies and general content.

As the brand, the social media manager makes sure to post according to a voice and social strategy. Often, they’re speaking directly to people who are already familiar with the brand.

The Sims has both social media managers and community managers. Its social media manager ensures that posts like the above, promoting company news and game features, are created and posted in a timely manner.

A community manager will post as themselves, not the brand, and work on developing the community by participating in discussions, finding new customers and listening to the current ones.

The community manager often works on new ways to engage the digital community and are often seen as advocates of the brand. Picture them as the faces of the brand, making it seem much more approachable than just a general company account. While not necessary, the community manager may also create a separate social account with the brand name in the username. This helps link them to the brand while creating a more individual voice that can engage as a member of the community.

Here are two examples of how a Sims community manager engages on Twitter. They ask for builds and Retweet the replies to share with the rest of the digital community. In addition, they reply to current community members to keep them engaged.

These two roles have different daily tasks and goals. For small teams, one person may be doing both jobs. But as you grow your team, specialization is helpful and it’s good to know how building out these two roles can help you grow even more.

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Where do they fit in a company?

Both the social media manager and the community manager work in the marketing department. The social media manager works online and will report to the social media or marketing director. They also work directly with the social media strategist to ensure that content and posts are performing well.

The social media community manager is usually on the same level as the social media manager. Instead of thinking about how the brand should post on social, their discussions with the strategist might involve ideas on how to recruit more community members. It’s also common for community managers (without the “social media” in their name) to go out into the real world and be representatives of the brand.

Both roles will talk to each other to keep informed on the other’s work. For example, if a community manager reports that audiences are repeatedly bringing up questions around a certain topic or issue, then the social media manager might craft a post to clarify it.

What are their tasks?

The daily workload differs between the two roles.

The main tasks of the social media manager can be broken down into three categories:

  • All things content
  • Listening and engaging with the brand
  • Strategy and analytics

The social media manager will spend most of their time around two things. First, content: curating it, sourcing it and scheduling it. Second, they’ll listen and engage. This means keeping an eye on brand mentions, taking note of trends and replying to questions. Lastly, the social media manager will spend a portion of their time on strategy and analytics.

As mentioned earlier, the social media manager and community manager will often discuss each other’s work. The brand’s posts may be informed by what the community manager needs. For example, the above Tweet from Discord could have been inspired by a community manager. Users in the community may have been requesting a shortcut for emojis, but since the feature already existed, the community manager might have requested that the brand publicize it more.

The community manager’s daily tasks are less about the brand’s social pages and more about the community. The main responsibilities include:

  • Finding new users and answering their questions
  • Replying and engaging current community members
  • Strategy for developing the community

As you can see, the community manager is all about interacting with the digital community at large. They spend most of their time directly engaging with new and current members as themselves. If they go out into the real world, they’ll usually have swag on hand and represent the company at events. Developing a strategy for the community involves listening to its needs and finding ways to reach them. They might give out voucher codes and other bonuses to help create goodwill in the community.

Because the community manager keeps an ear to the digital ground, it makes sense for this Discord community manager to ask this question. Doing this personalizes the brand a little more and makes users believe that their feature requests will get into the right ears.

What skills are needed for each role?

There’s a bit of overlap between the two roles. Both social media managers and community managers must be digitally savvy and be able to keep up with each social network that they’re on. They must also be flexible enough to manage the complexity of social media. Twitter moves fast and scheduled posts might need to be canceled if there’s unfolding urgent news.

Communication skills are another must for both roles. The social media manager needs to be able to write effectively and in the tone of the brand. The community manager in this case has a little more freedom. After all, they get to be themselves online instead of the brand.

In a social media manager job description, it’s common to see skill requirements like being able to set goals, understand analytics and interact well with the community online. They need to craft a post to push a product in one minute while responding to a service request in the next one.

For a community manager, skills like being able to interact with people online and understand how customer trust works is crucial. They’re tasked with growing a community and nurturing it, rather than focused on pushing for sales growth. Being able to present themselves authentically online is a core component of a successful community manager.

How is success measured?

The goal of the social media manager is often set by strategy. With increased sales, you measure social media conversion rates and ad click-through rates. Their goals are often mirrored with the larger company’s goals for the year. If the company wants to grow brand awareness in a different city, the social media manager will strategize on posts and ads to reach that target market.

A community manager’s success is measured more in the long term. In advocating for a brand, they might cultivate relationships with certain users. Success would look like increased mentions of the brand from those users. If we take the previous example of growing brand awareness in a city, a community manager would research local users and directly engage with them. If they were also an offline manager, they would create events for brand activation, measuring success with event attendance and signups.

For both of these roles, you can measure success with tools like Sprout that can provide analytics reports. A Sprout Instagram report would readily identify best times to post for the social media manager. And a tag report would show how well a community manager was doing at interacting with community members. Tagging messages by themes or by the community manager’s current campaign can demonstrate how well it’s performing.

Conclusion

What does your company need? Does it need an advocate or does it need someone to promote the brand? A social media manager and a community manager might both operate online but their responsibilities, skill sets and goals are different.

A social media manager’s focus is all about the brand’s content and presentation while a community manager is more focused on developing the brand’s digital community. If you’re looking to hire only one as the basis for your social team, make sure you know what the differences are and what you’re hoping to accomplish as a company.