What Is Social Community Management?

Social community management and social media marketing. Two distinct terms that describe two distinct functions – and yet they often get used synonymously.

Indeed, while some companies will have a social media marketer and a social community manager as two distinct job roles, at others, one person will be responsible for handling it all.

Social community management and social media marketing are indeed somewhat closely intertwined – but they are separate functions, nonetheless, and each have a unique role to play in the business.

Only by learning the differences between the two will you be able to succeed at both. So let’s start with unpacking the terms and the job roles they describe so we can begin to get a firm grip on these two important inbound marketing functions.

Social Community Management vs. Social Media Marketing

In the simplest of terms, the main difference between social media marketing and social community management boils down to strategy vs. relationships.

Social media marketing is all about creating growth – growing an audience, growing a following, increasing website traffic flow, increasing sales. Growth, growth, growth.

Social community management, on the other hand, is all about engagement. It focuses on developing, maintaining and nurturing great customer relationships. It’s about customer service, responding to complaints and engaging with the brand’s online community. In short, social community management is essentially a PR (public relations) function. The social community manager’s main role is to increase goodwill towards the brand, build its reputation and establish trust & authority within the online community.

Here’s a great infographic from Woof Media which illustrates the main differences between social media marketing and social community management quite succinctly – it even shows where the two functions overlap.


(Image source: woofmedia.com.au)


Understanding the Social Community Management Role

Both social media marketers and social community managers spend most of their working hours on social media – so it’s quite understandable how the two roles can seem as if they are both one of the same thing.

But they’re not. They are each a separate role in their own right, and are both as distinct and important as each other.

To better illustrate the key differences between these two crucial jobs, let’s take a look at them in action.

Sprout Social – a social media management and analytics software company – frequently uses two different personas for engaging its social media audience.

The social media marketer at Sprout is responsible for actually embodying the brand on social media. The marketer will craft posts, share content, respond to comments and answer questions as the brand itself.

Here’s an example so you can see what we’re talking about.


(Image source: sproutsocial.com)

By contrast, the social community manager will create his/her own social persona to advocate on behalf of the brand on social channels. That is to say that they do not create posts as the brand itself, but rather as a real person who works for the brand – as in Sprout Social’s social community manager @sproutvera in the post below.  


(Image source: sproutsocial.com)


3 Things All Social Community Managers Should Be Doing

Fostering engagement is at the heart of the social community management function. But how do managers actually go about it?

Here are three things that all social community managers should be doing.


1. Creating Content

Creating and sharing great content is the cornerstone of practically all inbound marketing efforts – and it’s the same when it comes to social community management.

There may very well be people at your company whose job it is to write the eBooks and the blogs and the white papers. And there will of course be graphic designers and photographers and possibly video makers as well. But someone still needs to be creating content for the business’s social networks – tweets, Facebook posts, Instagrams, etc.

This is where the social community manager comes in.

The social community manager will need to be able to craft original posts that foster more online engagement. Sure, the blog post may have been written by someone else, but if it answers a specific question that a follower has asked, the social community manager will need to compose a tweet (or what have you) which contains a link to the relevant post.

It’s also pretty essential that the social community manager has some basic photography and videography skills for engaging with followers on networks like Instagram and Pinterest. Some design skills – or at least the ability to use graphic design creation tools like Canva or Piktochart – would also be handy.

The important thing is that the social community manager can adapt to the needs of each network, and create content that engages each community in the way it wants and expects to be engaged.


(Image source: blog.hubspot.com)

2. Curating Content

Content curation is an essential part of the social community management role.

A community manager needs to be right in amongst all the latest goings-on in the industry, keeping his/her finger on the pulse as to what the community is talking about, and the breaking stories that people are engaging with.

They need to be trying to jump on the backs of trending #hashtags and always be trying to join the most relevant and exciting conversations, reacting and responding accordingly.

In terms of content curation, the social community manager needs to be actively finding the most important articles and news stories from third parties that would be of keen interest to the brand’s community and sharing those stories online. Keeping the community engaged is the name of the game and content curation is a great way to do just that.


(Image source: blog.hubspot.com)


3. Communicating as a Customer Service Assistant

The final and in some ways most important thing that a social community manager should be doing is of course communicating directly with members of the brand’s online community.

Managers need to be able to handle all sorts of questions from all sorts of people at many different stages of the customer journey. Some will be leads who have certain questions about the solution on offer, others will be customers with questions or complaints of their own.

It’s the social community management role to try and direct all this traffic to the right places, and solve as many problems as possible. Great communication skills are needed, as is great knowledge of the company itself, and of the services and/or products it sells.


(Image source: blog.hubspot.com)


Over to You

Social community management is not the same thing as social media marketing – but the two functions do have a certain overlap. Both will drive engagement on social media, but, importantly, social community management is all about building relationships, not making sales. Of course, better relationships will naturally lead to a better brand reputation, which in turn will lead to more sales being made – but the social community manager is right at the top of this particular funnel, and is focussed on the wellbeing of the community first and foremost. Through content creation and curation and great communication, social community management is a diverse role, and one that can work wonders for the reputation of your business.

If you need the social community management role filled in your business, get in touch with the inbound marketing experts here at Incisive Edge today.

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