• Marketing, Digital Care

The Core Differences Between a Community and Social Media Manager

by Khoros staff | Aug 29, 2019

Simply having an online presence isn’t enough for businesses anymore — brands also need to build loyalty through exceptional digital content and community development. In fact, 74% of large companies and 40% of small businesses now have established online communities. In the past, businesses relied on social media managers to create content and foster community development, but more recently these tasks have become specialized. To see all of the ways social media managers can leverage social media to create business value, read our whitepaper.

Nowadays, most social media managers focus on content, while community managers promote audience engagement. These managers work together often, but they typically operate on vastly different platforms.

How does your company handle these responsibilities, and do you know the differences between these important roles? Fear not, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about the differences between a community manager and a social media manager.

What is a social media manager?

A social media manager is responsible for the brand voice on all of the business’ social media profiles. They deliver news across platforms, such as the release of products, services, and features. They also create content to promote the brand’s products and attract new customers.

For example, the social media manager for the popular Madden series of football video games regularly promotes the annual release of the main product, along with the addition of new features throughout the year. The image below showcases a launch campaign created by the Madden social media manager in coordination with a popular sports news outlet to get people excited for the launch of Madden 20.

The campaign kicked off a month before the game’s release with a mural featuring the outlines of four players. Each week during the lead-up to the game’s release, one of the highly-rated players was revealed. As fans speculated who the next player would be, new game features were unveiled with promotions to encourage pre-orders.

A social media manager can work independently or as the head of a dedicated team. Depending on the size of the business, a social media manager may delegate posting responsibilities to other team members. For large organizations, they may focus solely on strategy and analytics.

The goals for a social media manager are often sales related. Important metrics include click-through and conversion rates.

In summary, a social media manager’s responsibilities include:

  • Acting as the voice of the brand across social media platforms
  • Delivering news, including the release of products, services, and features
  • Creating and scheduling content
  • Social media strategy and analytics

What is a community manager?

A community manager connects with the audience on a more personal level by posting in discussions as themselves to encourage engagement among group members. Often they are seen as the community’s advocate for the brand. They encourage discussions that will help improve the product and will often ask for feedback from the core audience.

For example, the Madden game series’ community manager goes by the username Kraelo. Kraelo regularly engages with the community by participating in discussions with fans through social media and forums.

By consistently joining fan discussions, Kraelo has become a core part of the Madden fan community. Community managers like Kraelo help grow the brand by encouraging engagement among existing users while also connecting new users to resources that will help them get more involved.

In addition to increasing engagement, community managers like Kraelo are also tasked with looking for ways to improve the user experience. They answer user questions and make a note if the same issues are brought up frequently. In the example below, Kraelo asks forum users to participate in a monthly survey to improve the game.

Surveys are an important part of a community manager’s role because they help telegraph that the brand is actively looking for ways to improve the user experience. Also, catching issues early helps reduce customer frustration later.

The goals for a community manager are more broad than they are for a social media manager and include increasing awareness or engagement. A community manager looks to increase the number of brand mentions, impressions, and community members across platforms.

To summarize, a community manager’s responsibilities include:

  • Developing a community for the product or service's users
  • Increasing engagement among current users through discussions
  • Connecting new users with resources to help them get involved in the community
  • Responding to user questions and helping to troubleshoot issues
  • Looking for ways to improve the user experience by gathering community feedback

What responsibilities are shared between both roles?

The social media manager and the community manager often work together on content strategy and answering user questions. For example, the unique “ear-to-the-wall” perspective of the community manager may help the social media manager understand what type of content to create.

In the case of Madden, people speculating in forums about the unreleased ratings of rookies led to the creation of a social media campaign that showcased rookies reacting to their in-game ratings.

Both positions respond to user mentions and questions, but they do so in different ways. The social media manager responds to general inquiries, such as people asking about the release of a new product or pricing questions. Technical questions and issues are handled by the community manager, who helps with troubleshooting.

How is each role distinct?

The key difference between roles is how they interact with audiences. A social media manager acts as the brand to promote the brand’s products, while the community manager acts as an average user to encourage audience engagement and provide support.

A community manager’s goals are usually broad and long term. They center around establishing a strong and supportive community, which can take years. The social media manager’s goals are more specific and short term and focus on sales or conversions.

Why are both roles important?

Both positions are crucial to any business looking to build a strong digital following. Although some companies still rely on one person to manage all of these responsibilities, many have begun specializing tasks in order to better serve their customers.

Splitting duties into different roles will allow your business to better connect with audiences. From increasing conversions as a result of better content to creating lifetime customers through community development — both roles have the potential to transform your business.

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to strengthen your brand. Learn how Khoros Communities can help you create a seamless experience for customers that builds deeper relationships while increasing sales. And to learn more about improving social media engagement, read our whitepaper.

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