Social Media Managers vs Community Managers

What's the difference?

Establishing communities and interacting with members is nothing new. However, over the past couple of years, more and more creators have been leveraging communities to interact directly with fans of their brand, and for a good reason

Communities can aid in retention and build brand loyalty. These communities don’t just run themselves, though. Managers are an essential part of communities. Community managers are the backbone of communities, and while their role might seem similar to that of traditional social media managers, there are subtle — but important — differences. 

We’ll take a look at these differences and how each one helps content creators in a different way. We’ll also take a look at how the two roles sometimes overlap and work off each other. 

What Are Social Media and Community Managers?

To understand the differences between community managers and social media managers, it’ll help to establish what each actually does first. It’s also good to keep in mind that in some companies, particularly smaller organizations, these two jobs may be filled by the same person. 

However, the responsibilities and tasks are different, and it’s usually worth having a specialized manager for each role. Both roles typically fall under the marketing umbrella, and as such, they work together closely. 

Social Media Managers

Odds are, you’re probably somewhat familiar with what a social media manager does, or you’ve at least heard of them before. Social media managers basically represent your brand on social media and try to increase your brand’s reach. 

That is, they’re the people posting from your company’s official social media accounts. They’re also usually responsible for all of the content related to those accounts, (although content creation and posting might be delegated to team members if a brand has an entire social media team). 

In short, they handle everything related to social media and make sure your channels are running smoothly. 

Community Managers

In contrast to social media managers, community managers interact with members one-on-one. They post from their personal accounts, and they represent a brand in a similar way to a customer service representative. However, they have a much more significant role in a brand’s entire marketing strategy. They are also proactive in interacting with members. 

For example, they respond directly to member questions via their personal accounts (or company-created accounts with their names), they’re in charge of fostering engagement within a community, and they often work hand-in-hand with social media managers.  

Some common platforms that host communities include places like Facebook, Discord, and Slack. A community manager might be responsible for a single community on one platform or multiple communities across different platforms, depending on how broad the audience.

How Are Their Roles Distinct?

Okay, now it’s time for specifics. This is where the two roles clearly diverge, and you’ll see their jobs broken down by specific tasks. However, these may be different depending on how large a brand’s marketing team is or isn’t. It’s also good to keep in mind that these are just baselines and not strict rules. Talented social media and community managers are building their brands using different, creative methods every day.

Social Media Manager Tasks

A social media manager’s role is limited to a brand’s social media channels. This usually includes content creation and scheduling. This can be as simple as a graphic or as complex as a short video. They are also in charge of ensuring that any content posted aligns with a brand’s voice and tone. 

Social media managers respond to and answer questions on posts using a brand’s official channels. They are also sometimes put in charge of moderation. However, their largest role is arguably creating a social media strategy by being aware of trends and examining analytics. 

You can think of a social media manager’s goals and tasks as a bit more related to sales when compared to a community manager. A social media manager is in charge of driving traffic through social media, making announcements via social media, and acting as a brand’s voice when interacting with the public. 

Summary of social media manager tasks:

  • Social media strategy and analytics
  • Social media content
  • Social media outreach and brand voice

Community Manager Tasks

Community managers are basically responsible for being brand advocates within a brand’s community. This can be in both virtual communities and at real-life events. Within virtual communities, their tasks are pretty straightforward.

They’re often in charge of starting conversations among community members about products and how those products can be better. For example, they might do an all-call or a survey within a community, asking members about what features they would like to see added to a community or what services they would be interested in having. This allows community members to feel more invested in a brand and to give their feedback directly. 

They’re also in charge of making sure that new members have everything that they need to take advantage of a community and interact with other members as soon as they join. For example, community managers are responsible for either showing new members directly — or sending them an explainer — about how to access features and tutorials. 

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    Another one of their key tasks is to create excitement and engagement within a community. These are the people responsible for announcing community-only events, news, and offers. 

    During real-life events, community managers are usually tasked with similar things, such as giving out vouchers or merchandise, talking with members about the community and brand, and trying to find ways to improve it, etc. 

    Community managers might also sometimes be assigned to create resources for the community to use. Things like simple explainers on how to use community tools, articles giving tips on best practices, and weekly community newsletters all fall under this umbrella. 

    Summary of community manager tasks:

    • Encouraging community engagement and feedback
    • Onboarding new members
    • Developing communities
    • Create community resources

    How Do They Work Together?

    Although they’re in charge of different things, community and social media managers work best when they work together. A community manager is in direct contact with a brand’s biggest fans, and this can give social media managers vital information about what their community wants. 

    For example, let’s say that a community manager does a survey about what new features the community would like to see in an upcoming project or service. The social media manager can use this information to create content focusing on some of those most mentioned features. 

    The same is true if a question keeps popping up as a comment within a social media post. A community manager can take that information directly to the brand’s community and ask them how they think the problem might be best addressed or vice versa. 

    If social media and community managers keep each other informed well enough, they can leverage the information they gain to help one another and improve their posts, communities, and the brand overall.  

    How Goals Differ for Each Role

    Understanding how the two set goals and how those goals differ also helps understand the different parts each plays within a marketing strategy. 

    A social media manager usually sets goals related to clicks, sales, and reaching audiences. As such, their goals align more closely with a brand or creator’s direct, shorter-term goals. That is, social media managers will work to directly drive sales or run campaigns.

    On the other hand, a community manager’s goals are a bit more abstract and long-term. Community managers aim to build a brand’s community, organize online events within that community, and keep communities engaged and heard. They might also track how many people are responding to surveys, community posts, and events. Think of it more like customer retention, as opposed to getting new clients or customers, which a social media manager is a bit more focused on.  

    Why Are Both Vital Jobs?

    As mentioned above, social media and community managers’ tasks differ. The two might sometimes operate within the same domain (for example, within a Facebook group), but they’re focused on vastly different things. A social media manager is more sales oriented and focuses on outreach. A community manager focuses on building and maintaining a community, while also acting upon the feedback they get from that community. 

    When a brand is just starting off, creators might choose to opt for just a social media manager, which is important in the short term to build brand awareness. Creators often act as their own social media managers in the beginning. However, when taking the next step and starting a community, it’s important to have someone who can take care of the details, like answering community members’ questions, providing resources, and interacting with members on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.

    Ultimately, both are vital for any creator looking to build their online presence. You want the outreach of a social media manager and the (virtual) on-the-ground knowledge and care of a community manager. 

    How Nas Can Help You Build Your Community 

    Nas is launching a new community-building partnership that allows creators to leverage our platform, resources, and even community managers to build their brand.  

    Accepted applicants and their communities have access to live zoom meetings with experts, pdf resources, Nas Academy classes, and everything else they need to build their communities. 

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