By now, I think we have all heard of a Social Media Manager or SMM. You probably have a fairly good idea of what benefit they can bring to your business. More recently, though, the term Online Community Manager has been moving to the forefront of many businesses’ minds. Whilst these two roles may sound very similar, they do, in fact, differ greatly.

A social media manager manages all of the social media content. A social media manager (SMM) will interact with followers and businesses on behalf of the brand.

This can range from simply posting to your Instagram account to answering comments and messages received throughout the day, engaging in online networking events, etc. These interactions will all take place under the brand’s name.  

Many large businesses employ one or more social media managers (depending on the company’s size). This is a very effective way to ensure that the brand’s content is consistent across all the channels.

However, with social media totally transforming the relationship between the brand and its followers – the role of community manager has become ever more popular. The role can be performed by the social media manager or by a different person or team. 

What is a Community Manager?

A community manager will be an expert in all things social media and the different networks and channels used. In this way, they are very similar to a social media manager. However, one of the most significant differences is that a community manager will post as a brand ambassador from their own account rather than from the brand account itself. They will work to develop the brand’s follower community. They will do this by participating in discussions, seeking out new followers and customers, and ensuring they continue to engage and listen to the existing community members. 

Using their own account, a community manager can often seem more approachable and relatable than the brand account itself. The community manager can use their personal account; however, often, they will create a separate account with a link to the brand’s name in their own username.

What are the Main Responsibilities of a Community Manager?

  • Create a nurture a platform for the brand community to interact
  • Engage with current community members and reply to them directly
  • Find new users to join the existing community, engage with them and answer any questions they may have.
  • Strengthen the trust that the community has in the brand
  • Learn more about what this community wants to see from the brand
  • Help to develop a strategy that continues to develop that community 

But How? 

All of the above tasks involve the community manager keeping their ear to the ground and truly engaging with their audience from a grassroots level. This may involve things such as creating Facebook groups or other types of groups or channels, which will encourage conversation with the community manager becoming more like an integral part of the community rather than viewing it from the outside in the way a social media manager would.

A social media manager needs to create a sales or self-promotional post and indeed engage with followers who may comment on the posts. They will share content and create a content plan; however, their interaction will always be as the brand rather than on behalf of the brand.

This interaction is very different from that of a community manager whose posts aim to build and grow a community, focusing on this rather than sales growth. The community manager’s focus will be on remaining authentic. This authenticity will, in turn, nurture the trust the community has both in the communities manager and the brand itself.

What Does Success Look Like?

The success is measured in a different manner than that of an SMM. While we would measure the success of an SMM through follower numbers, engagement, and perhaps traffic to a website, instead we measure the community manager’s success through the number of new members to the group or community, how active that community is and how often that community is mentioning the brand name.

Both of these roles can provide an invaluable service to your business – it will be up to you to determine what you would like the community manager to achieve and the type of group and community you would like them to nurture. We hope this has made you feel better informed about the community manager role. If you would like some more information about social media management and community management – contact us here.