The Difference Between Social Media Marketing & Community Management

Posted on June 11, 2015 
Filed Under General, Internet Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social Networking

Not so long ago, the majority of people and businesses alike were questioning the value of social media as a channel for consumer-brand interactions. Now most businesses have some kind of social media presence. The process of acquiring leads through social media is called social media marketing. Sometimes it’s also referred to as inbound marketing. Occasionally though, another term is used as a further variant and that’s community management.

Community-management-vs-social-media-marketing

Now there is a great difference between social media marketing and community management. You see, social media marketing and community management are two practices that share some overlap but they are very distinct from one another and cannot be used interchangeably. If you’re going to be successful at either, you absolutely need to understand the difference between the two.

For example, here is a situation for you: You run an online shoe store and you receive a very positive comment on Twitter from a customer who made a purchase recently and would like to promote it to his or her followers. Do you forward this comment to your social media manager or to your community manager or both?

Perception vs. Reality

To be fair, it’s not so hard to see how social media marketing and community management may have become entangled over time. In truth, social media marketing is often a very poorly defined process boiled down to a simple matter of promoting your business using social media. This is a very broad and vague description that may simply mean maintaining a Facebook page or it could encompass creating customized content for different social media platforms, branding, public relations and developing a voice for your business.

Similarly, community management is often defined as any and all attempts made towards cultivating an audience for a business. So technically, as a business, if you’re posting regularly on Facebook and Twitter with the intention of building your social media audience, this falls under the definition of community management.

Therein lies the confusion. In truth, as mentioned above, social media marketing and community management are related terms with some overlap between the two practices. The distinction lies in the intention.

Community Management vs. Social Media Marketing

Here is the deal: Social media marketing is just like any other type of marketing. Therefore, the job description of a social media manager is to ultimately drive more sales for your company, usually by increasing the reach and impact of your brand. So a social media manager is a strategist with the primary role of designing strategies to align your social media efforts with your business objectives and subsequently increase any return on your investment (ROI).

In contrast, a community manager is a builder of relationships with the primary role of building relationships and a community so people feel loyal to you and your brand. The community manager is also responsible for advocating the brand on the different social platforms and increasing engagement as well as awareness for the company.

The Job Description of a Social Media Manager

In social media marketing, how you increase the reach and impact of your business is based around the structure of the different social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube among others. These strategies vary and include posting time and frequency, content length and content format. The job description of a social media manager is as follows:

1. Strategizing and planning

2. Research

3. Creating and publishing content

4. Curating content

5. Analyzing social media metrics and ROI

6. Crisis management

7. Monitoring and listening

8. Branding and voice

The Job Description of a Community Manager

While the job description of social media manager has everything to do with marketing, a community manager, on the other hand, is responsible for the process of creating or strengthening an existing community. This usually means:

1. Attracting new people to a community

2. Having conversations with prospects, customers and other communities

3. Reaching out to inactive community members

4. Encouraging engagement and communication

5. Researching opportunities to connect with new people

6. Blogging and engagement on external sites

7. Analytics

8. Earning familiarity, trust and likeability

9. Monitoring social conversations

Parting Wisdom

As you can see, the most important overlap between social media marketing and community management is that actively building a community on social media is a prerequisite for building a large and engaged audience for your business. This in turn drives sales or whatever your bottom line is. It’s an almost symbiotic relationship.

In general, social media marketing is less time intensive while community management takes a long time to get going. However, community management is essential to retain an existing audience, attract new audience members and build a reputation for your brand. The best approach is, of course, to incorporate both social media marketing and community management elements in your marketing strategy.


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