Why Social Media Professionals are Community Managers Too

Brian Oblinger and Ashley Smith at DataRobot

This blog was co-authored by guests Ashley Smith, Social Media Manager, and Brian Oblinger, VP of Customer Experience and Global Community, from DataRobot. Together, Ashley's and Brian’s teams work to create a cohesive community experience across multiple channels.

The role known as “Community Manager” has followed a winding path shaped by the forces of companies trying to successfully engage their customers online. It used to mean solely a manager of a branded community, it is now used by many to also include social media managers.

As approaches, technologies, and channels have matured, the role definition has been stretched to encompass many different purposes and functional tasks. This has led to misunderstandings, sometimes even controversy, regarding the ownership, scope, and definition of adjacent roles that have adopted the title.

The truth is that both community and social media roles serve your global community in different ways through different channels. There are clear differences in tactical approach and day-to-day responsibilities, but that doesn't mean that they can't work together to foster a vibrant ecosystem of engagement and belonging for customers.

The Value of Social Media Management

A social media manager has the crucial role of managing the overall digital brand presence while also working to create content and engage with the brand’s audience on social — essential pieces of the marketing strategy puzzle. They also set the strategy for the brand’s social media efforts with regard to the building and maintaining of partner relationships, deciding when to follow and join social media trends, and using social media management tools to monitor brand activity on social.

An effective social media manager can improve brand awareness, help acquire new customers, and build brand loyalty. While social media managers rely on data to strategize, creativity (in terms of content, strategy, and engagement) is an important part of their role, too.

The Value of Community Management

A community manager’s main role, on the other hand, is to build and maintain relationships between the brand and its customers within the community platform. Community managers also curate community content and relay findings on what the brand’s community members care about to the organization as a whole. An effective community manager improves customer support and retention while building brand loyalty and sourcing ideas for innovation.

No matter the title, community manager or social media manager, each person in each role works to help your brand succeed on social, and with the right support, the roles can complement and support each other.

Different Methods, Same Mission

From a business value standpoint, a symbiotic relationship between those who work in branded communities and those who work in social networks can have amazing results. Community provides timely and relevant content to the social team, which in turn can lead to promotion, traffic, and engagement in community.

Where customers choose to interact and to what depth should not be viewed as a competition in your organization, rather a recognition that your customers have different needs. Your global strategy should include both and success should be reported in a unified way to signify the value of the ecosystem you’ve built.

Rather than spend time arguing about titles or the definition of a Community Manager, companies should instead focus on creating a cohesive customer experience that spans all touch points. Your customers don't care about the politics inside of your company or what your title is on LinkedIn, they care about getting help when they need it, feeling that you care about them, and belonging to something bigger than themselves. If it is your job to contribute to those desires in a meaningful way, your efforts should be recognized and celebrated all the same.

To learn how your brand can deliver excellent customer experiences across social media networks, branded communities, and other critical digital channels, read the Khoros whitepaper: 7 Customer Service Strategies for Highly Effective Teams.

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