To understand the difference between a social media manager and a community manager, you must first learn about what they represent individually. Some functions will overlap as these are unavoidable, but what matters is that you don’t use these two interchangeably because they don’t refer to the same roles.
What does a social media manager do?
In a nutshell, social media managers are the brands personified. They engage with other brands, interact with the audience, and speak as if they are the brands themselves, not as separate individuals. This means that although there are obviously people working behind the social media accounts, they aren’t seen by the public.
Social media managers post various content, write the copies that go along with the posts, and follow the interactions that mention their brands. But they don’t do these actions with their personal or professional accounts; rather, they use the official social media accounts of the brands that they manage.
What does a community manager do?
In essence, community managers are the brands’ advocates for different platforms. They don’t interact with the audience as if they are the brands themselves, but rather as representatives of their companies. These managers are individuals who have their own social personas connected to the brands they are advocating for.
As community managers, these professionals are in charge of spreading the word about their brands and connecting to potential customers within their target demographics. Their advocacy is mainly about raising awareness for their brands and building online communities around them.
How do these two roles differ?
Although these two roles may look similar because they often have the same end goals, their biggest difference is how they interact with the public. Social media managers mostly utilize their public platforms to reach out to their existing customers and attract new ones through their content.
On the other hand, the community managers’ approach may be more targeted. Unlike social media managers that heavily rely on social networks, community managers tend to have their own fully branded community platform. This way, they’ll have a much easier time managing their spaces as well as the members within their communities.
What kind of skills do they need to have?
Even though social media and community managers don’t have the same job descriptions, they usually use a similar set of skills to perform their roles, albeit with slight differences. This is because both roles can be found under the scope of digital marketing. Here are three skills they need to have as managers:
Having strong written and verbal communication skills are arguably among the most important skills that a social media or community manager must have. This is because they will constantly be interacting with people from all walks of life, which means they need to be able to adapt to their audience within a few seconds.
Both social media and community managers must be good communicators because they represent their brands, which means they can’t let their personal opinions affect their actions. To borrow the terms of theater actors, they can’t “break character,” or else they might negatively impact the image they’re upholding.
Much like any role in a business, both social media and community managers need to have a good grasp of their time, especially given their busy schedules. Time management skills are essential to these roles because the internet never sleeps — there will always be people from different parts of the world interacting with their brands at all times.
Aside from that, both managers will need to work with their marketing teams for campaign launches and events, which means they’re not following their own schedules alone. They will need to be able to organize their tasks and meet their deadlines because any delays will affect the entire business.
Lastly, social media and community managers need to have great research skills. This is because they’re working in a fast-changing digital landscape. There’s always a new social media trend, viral topic, or digital tools that can affect their existing plans, which means they need to be one step ahead at all times.
And their research won’t be limited to published or trusted sources alone. Since social media and community managers both reach out to the public, they’ll have to understand the languages in which their audiences speak, the hashtags that dominate their platforms, or even the trending topics that pass as quickly as they began.
Some professionals may look down on these roles because social media and community managers spend most of their time socializing, unlike those who crunch numbers or file taxes all day. However, socializing with the audience is exactly what they were hired to do, but their jobs are much more complicated than what many people have been led to believe.