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Socially Stephanie: Community Manager vs. Social Media Manager


Dear Socially Stephanie:

Up until now, I've been managing our social media. My company is growing and I just don't have the bandwidth to handle it all. I think it's time for me to hire someone to handle our social media. Should I hire a community manager or a social media manager, and what are the qualities I should be looking for?

Growing in Grand Rapids

Dear Growing,
Congratulations on your growth! Entrepreneurial power to you. Before we jump in, let's quickly discuss what these different positions are, shall we?

A community manager is someone who builds, grows, communicates with and manages online communities. They are in charge of engaging your customers and fans while creating the brand voice that talks to your fans in a way that feels natural and authentic. In essence, they are the ring leader and cheerleader for your brand online. A social media manager, on the other hand, builds and grows your fanbase, communicates with them and shares compelling content designed to get people talking. 

In other words, they are very similar and often times the same thing.  

While both should be focused on building solid relationships online, in my opinion, a community manager is a better title for the job. A community is the most important thing your business can have. It shows strength, it builds loyalty, and it is a very important asset.

With that said, whether you decide to hire a community manager or a social media manager, you need to know what makes someone right for the position. The first thing is strong communication skills. This should be in the form of writing, speaking, and creating content that moves your community to buy. After all, this person is going to be in charge of your brand's voice. They need to be able to understand your product or service and communicate that in a way that feels right.

The second thing they should be good at is hyping up a crowd and creating buzz. Think cheerleader here. A good cheerleader can amplify excitement and create emotion in the arena. A good community manager can do the same, which increases your reach.

Next, a great community manager must be a good social listener. This person should be on the lookout for trends in your industry and figure out what makes people tick by hearing what they say. They have to have their to the door and make sure they are responding to what people are saying about you online.  

Lastly, they should be creative and able to think on their feet. The best social media campaigns are those that are real-time. As social media is always changing, they must be able to deliver at a second's notice.

Well, there you have it. It looks like I might have even written your job description for you. Good luck!


Do you have a question for Socially Stephanie?

Please email SociallyStephanie@socialmediatoday.com and let Stephanie help you solve your social quandaries, queries, and boondoggles. (Questions may be edited for length and clarity.)

Illustration by Jesse Wells

Join The Conversation

  • Sep 17 Posted 2 years ago tomdiederich

    Excellent post, though I'd add that community managers work just as hard connecting internal groups that don't usually communicate very well with one another: Customer service, product development and marketing. Both roles also require corporate PR skills when speaking on behalf of the companies they represent (even when talking tech support: never lose your cool and don't say things that you cannot backup).

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