cm vs social media

Community Management vs. Social media Marketing: Where is the difference?


People often confuse community management with social media marketing, without realizing there’s a big difference between these two terms. Sure, in both cases there is an obvious need to build a loyal community, communicate and engage with them, but over the time, brands’ needs expanded with a broad range of social media and technology in general. There are more possibilities, but also responsibilities. That’s why we could say community managers or CMs and basically an online version of brand ambassadors who use social media as a tool to communicate for a certain brand and become their public face.

However, since the communication and social media campaigns became more complex, it leads to a new type of specialized social media marketing agencies whose prime focus was on all things digital. By increasing the scope of the job, brands divided the business on mainly strategic and tactical or operative. New responsibilities lead to new roles that needed to be filled among brands’ marketing teams and, therefore, people often assumed social media managers simply do everything CMs do, even though the two terms aren’t synonyms.  

So what exactly do community managers do?

Long story short, CMs are focused on sharing the information, communicating with users, controlling the content on social media pages and profiles, as well as reporting back with feedback. We could almost say main part of their job is expanded customer support because they are here for any questions and inquiries that pop up on social media pages. CMs job is to maintain a positive relationship with the existing community, but also to use a social media strategy to attract new customers and users.

To simplify it even further, some of CM’s task include:

  1. Informing an online community about the brand
  2. Distributing original and interesting content (blog posts, videos, photos, gifs, articles…)
  3. Encouraging customers and users to create content (user-generated content)
  4. Improving customers’ satisfaction with the brand’s products or services
  5. Answering any incoming questions and inquires
  6. Collecting information from users and reporting it back to the brand (feedback)
  7. Constantly learning and educating themselves to stay on top of things because social media is changing every day

What do social media managers do?

In this case, we’re mostly talking about B2B communication, mostly through cooperation between the agency and the client who agreed on a certain social media strategy that is resonating with the brand’s business goals. They are in charge of all social media platforms and planning out digital marketing strategies for brands. Their tasks include content creating, cooperating with copywriters to come up with the best copy that sends out the right message for their brand, tracking and analyzing of results, reporting them back to their client and reevaluating their strategy if needed. Social media managers need to be both analytical AND creative in order to their job well. They need to engage their online audience, come up with new and unique ways to connects with their target audience, organize sweepstakes, teaser campaigns, advertising campaigns, increase brand awareness and other KPIs that brands require.

Long story short, their job includes:

  1. Communication with a client
  2. Planning and creating a strategy
  3. Making sure client’s budget is spent efficiently according to campaign guidelines
  4. Positioning a brand on social media
  5. Increasing brand awareness
  6. Getting new leads
  7. Increasing sales
  8. Attending events, seminars, and conferences to stay educated and informed about digital marketing and social media
  9. Educating and leading community managers

CMs and social media managers need to cooperate

CMs are maintaining a positive image of the brand among their community members, building new relationships and engage in conversations, while social media managers are thinking of ways for them to achieve that. They plan out a strategy of social media communication which needs to overlap with the client’s business plan and general marketing strategy, while it’s up to CMs to transmit that in the online world. We could say community management is a top of the iceberg while social media management is the bigger bottom part you don’t always see, but know it’s definitely there. Public online communication on social media is noticed among users and customers and it definitely has the effect to a general perception of the brand.

It’s important to say that social media managers couldn’t do their job without any knowledge or experience in community management: you can’t manage something if you don’t understand how it works on a surface level. That’s why we can say every great social media manager is also a great community manager, but not every community manager can become a social media manager. It takes time, skills, knowledge, will and patience.