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What’s the Difference? Community Manager vs Social Media Manager

A Social Media Manager has become an essential part of a marketing strategy. But in some cases a Community Manager may be needed.

You’ve probably come across rumblings that the “Social Media Manager” position is dead. In reality, it isn’t that simple. As HootSuite’s CEO Ryan Holmes explains, the position has shifted to become an essential part of a marketing strategy. Furthermore, there are still plenty of people who don’t understand how to properly use social media in the business world. In this case, we still need people to educate and train others on how to effectively use social media.

Also consider when it comes to content marketing, many companies are still saying their top priorities are driving sales or leads, engaging customers, and boosting brand awareness. When it comes to challenges, business owners say they struggle with lack of time to create content (51%), producing enough content variety/volume (50%), producing truly engaging content (42%), measuring content effectiveness (38%), and developing consistent content strategy (34%).

stock-624712_1280Image Source: Pixabay

So, isn’t that enough reason for companies to hire a social media manager?

Not exactly. In some of these situations, a community manager may be more effective.

For the last several years the question of “What’s the difference between a community manager and social media manager?” has been debated. To help settle the debate, I have decided to provide a description of both jobs, as well what skills are expected of each position.

Community Manager Description

According to Hootsuite, “A community manager is, at heart, a builder of relationships. This person will be engaging and nurturing customers and key members of your community. They make the brand personal and they advocate for the customer.”

Vanessa DiMauro, founder and CEO of Leader Networks, adds on Social Media Today that community managers are also “involved in facilitating efficient inter-team and staff communication and collaboration.” It’s up to community managers to be in charge of “the flow of information and knowledge, strengthening relationships and promoting productive collaboration, which may include moderation and hosting of both micro- and macro-events on the company’s community platform.”

A Day in the Life of a Community Manager

Sarah Nagel, the Community Outreach Manager at Sprout Social, revealed that she spends 40% of her day with having conversations with communities or prospects. Throughout the workday Sarah also builds visibility and credibility as “Sprout Sarah” when she attends Twitter Chats or when she is moderating #SproutChat.

Other tasks include researching new ways to connect with people; blogging on external sites; analyzing on which practices are driving the most traffic most; and “making friends with everyone in the office.”

Marketing consultant and social media strategist Marisa Peacock also adds on CMS Wire that community managers “develop and implement comprehensive content strategies,” as well as develop member loyalty programs and develop digital public relations for clients. It’s also up to the community manager to attend events and welcome new members.

Community Manager Jobs

So, you want to become a community manager? Here are the skills you will need:

  • Create guidelines and a strategy for using social media.
  • Have the knowledge to educate clients and coworkers on digital media.
  • Experience in successfully launching products.
  • Experience in building and maintaining online communities.
  • Experience with online marketing, community management, engaging audience, and retaining customers.

Want to get ahead of the competition? Vadim Lavrusik, former community manager at Mashable, has the following tips for an aspiring community manager.

  • You need to be passionate, as well as knowledgeable, about your company’s products.
  • Attend classes or courses that can improve your communication skills.
  • Maintain a blog to illustrate your knowledge and gain online visibility.
  • While online communities are important, don’t forget that there are offline communities, too.

In addition, Ashley Zeckman suggests on Search Engine Watch that you must be careful  not to spread yourself too thin and work to create stories that relate to your audience.

If you are still interested in the field, Sprout Social recommends you check out the following groups:

Social Media Manager Description

A social media manager, according to Hootsuite, “is more of a strategist”. A social media manager “should be creating and aligning social media strategies in different departments within your company. They’ll be tracking your social media successes and failures, and using data to ensure you’re always improving. And they’ll be constantly creating and curating content for social networks.”

Vanessa DiMauro states social media managers also manage brand reputation and recognition. It’s also common for social media managers to be associated with marketing, PR, and sales departments.

A Day in the Life of a Social Media Manager

Sprout Social’s social media manager Darryl Villacorta explains they spend their days helping and responding to customers; listening and conversating; writing and curating social content; and researching and planning strategy. Other tasks include analyzing past social performances and collaborating with team members.

The Community Roundtable also mentions responsibilities like making sure feedback gets “channeled to the appropriate internal functional group,” curating and encouraging user-generated content, and managing tools like Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media Manager Jobs

If you’re interested in a social media manager position, here’s what will likely be expected of you:

  • Being able to make a media pitch
  • Having strong writing skills
  • Prior marketing, PR experience
  • An understanding of online marketing
  • A knowledge of different strategies on different channels
  • Knowing how to use social media monitoring tools
  • Managing day-to-day social media campaigns
  • Overseeing customer service responses from social media
  • Being able to integrate to social media into traditional advertising

Looking to impress a prospective employer? Give the following pieces of advice a shot to help you stand out from the competition.

  • Whitney Parker, vice president for user experience at Brazen Careerist, reminds us on Mashable that brands want to see measurable outcomes. Don’t hesitate in highlighting what you’ve accomplished in quantifiable data.
  • Parker also suggests that your social media platforms are optimized and show-off your personality.
  • It wouldn’t hurt to take some online courses from MediaBistro or HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing University.
  • Kevin Claveria, Content Marketing Manager at Vision Critical, shares on LinkedIn that you should learn additional marketing skills, such as using MailChimp and understanding Google Analytics.
  • Kevin suggests you become the customer advocate for the marketing team.
  • Don’t forget to keep working on your writing skills.
  • Learn how to market the entire sales funnel.
  • Establish your online reputation to help build your influence.

When looking for a Social Media Manager position, Darryl from Sprout Social recommends that you

“Hit up Twitter! Not only are there a bevy of job listings posted on Twitter, you also have the awesome ability to connect (and research) with any companies you may be interested in working for. One word of advice: do your homework!”

Outside of social media itself, you can use the following resources to locate a social media manager position.

So, What are the Main Differences?

Obviously, there is a little overlap between a community manager and social media manager. Perhaps the most obvious example is that both have a responsibility to engage audiences through various social networks. Community managers and social media managers also share some of the same personality traits, such as being outgoing, creative and having good time management skills.

Lucie Snape, Head of Social at Vodafone Australia, informed Beta21, “The biggest difference in my opinion is that a social media manager should have a strategic view. The social media manager sets the strategic direction and the Community Manager implements through tactical execution, namely, effective content creation and delivery, and ongoing community engagement and growth.”

Other differences include:

  • A community manager is in charge of a specific community or platform for a business. A social media manager manages the overall social media presence of a brand.
  • A community manager will make sure conversations are moderated, while a social media manager creates the content that spark conversations.
  • A community manager is not only the voice of the brand to the community, but also the voice of the community for the brand. A social media manager sticks to being the brand’s voice to the community.
  • A content manager is involved with both online and offline campaigns, while a social media managers focuses on online campaigns.

Perhaps the most striking difference between the two is how they are used for various companies. For example, as the CR Roundtable perfectly puts, low complex companies are focused just “on social media because the relationships desired between Newell Rubbermaid and Sharpie customers does not need to be that deep – and the business model cannot support deep relationship development (i.e. spending hundreds on developing a relationship with a customer who buys $25 worth of products doesn’t make much sense).”

However, a more high complex company, think Adobe, could benefit from having a community manager because there are engaged communities who help each other get the most out of the product or service.

In other words, depending on the company, most B2C companies can manage just fine with a social media manager because most of their focus is strictly online. B2B companies, on the other hand, could use a community manager since there are offline aspects of their company as well.


What do you think? Is there a difference between a community manager and social media manager? And, what advice would you give someone who’s interested in pursuing a career in either position?


Featured Image Source: Pixabay 

Category Careers
Albert Costill Writer

Albert Costill is a co-founder of and a freelance writer who has written for brands like and Search ...

What’s the Difference? Community Manager vs Social Media Manager

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