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Advice / Career Paths / Exploring Careers

Yes, There Is a Difference Between a Social Media and Community Manager

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Pop quiz: Who matters most when it comes to your social presence?

Your followers? The folks whose attention you’re trying to grab? The people sharing your stuff?

Sure, those people are important. But what if it was the people working behind the scenes that represent the real game-changers?

Think about it: Social media has become the go-to channel for customer care, content curation, and branding for modern businesses. As a result, social media and community managers are vital for a brand’s social media efforts.

Although some may think that the roles of social media manager and community manager are synonymous, their functions and responsibilities are quite distinct. In fact, here at Sprout Social, we treat each role very differently.

To better illustrate these two crucial jobs, we talked to our very own social media manager Darryl Villacorta and our community manager Vera Flores to get the scoop on their roles, responsibilities, and advice for others.

What Are the Major Differences Between the Two Roles?

A social media manager is responsible for being the brand on social media.

They create content, craft copy for posts, respond to comments, answer questions, and much more as the brand. Social media managers, more often than not, deal with people who have a relationship with, or have heard of, the brand.

A community manager is responsible for advocating a brand on social networks. They create their own social persona and actively go out within the online community to connect with potential customers and advocate accordingly. Community managers typically deal with those who may or may not have heard of the business they work for, and boost awareness for the brand.

While the two roles may seem identical, social media managers essentially act as actual brands while community managers represent themselves on behalf of the brand they’re promoting.

What Does a Social Media Manager Job Description Look Like?

The biggest trend associated with social media management is the ability to strategically create and distribute a brand’s content across a variety of different social networks. If you’re an individual hunting for such a role, these are the sorts of skills you should emphasize on your application, resume, or LinkedIn profile.

There are other important keywords associated with most social media managers that help flesh out the scope of their role: team, support, engagement, execution, manage, opportunities, and (of course) social.

Although the role might seem pretty simple on the surface, there’s obviously plenty for any given social media manager to juggle. Especially if you’re regularly handling customer concerns or work on behalf of a brand with tens of thousands of followers (or more).

The Social Media Manager Workflow

We know that social media managers spend the average day making sure customers have an above-average day and spreading awareness for brands, but what specifically do they do?

We asked Darryl to break down what a typical work day looks like for him. Keep in mind that no two days are the same for social media managers, but this will help paint a clearer picture:

  • 35% listening and conversation
  • 25% researching and planning strategy
  • 20% creating and curating content
  • 10% team collaboration
  • 10% analytics
  • 10% dressing sharply (we added this, but who wouldn’t?)

He spends a majority of his time responding to and helping our customers, followed by strategizing and executing content strategies, then analyzing their successes and meeting with the team to discuss next steps.

Where to Find Social Media Manager Jobs

Now that you know you have the skill and desire to become a social media manager, the next question is: How do you find a job? Darryl thinks searching Twitter might be the most effective method:

Hit up Twitter! Not only are there a bevy of job listings posted, you also have a unique opportunity to connect (and research) any companies you may be interested in working for; do your homework!

To expand on the idea of turning to social media to find jobs, here are a couple more resources that can help you in your job search:

  • Groups on LinkedIn have a separate jobs tab. Here’s the one from the “Social Media Marketing” group.
  • Facebook Groups like “Social Media Jobs” are a great resource.
  • Twitter hashtags such as #SocialMediaJobs could potentially point you to an open position

It’s no surprise that social networking is perhaps the best way to uncover open social media manager positions.

What Does a Community Manager Job Description Look Like?

Words like “growth” and “engage” are much bigger keywords in the role of community manager compared with the social media manager. This reinforces the idea that most community managers are focused on engaging with new prospects in order to grow the overall brand community.

Community managers are expected to have strong networking and communication skills. Keeping in line with the voice and personality of a brand may sound like a cakewalk, but mastering the tone of a company is often easier said than done.

As noted earlier, the skillset of a community manager is very particular and requires managers to pay close attention to every aspect of client and customer communication.

The Community Manager Workflow

Vera spends her time bolstering a fantastic community for Sprout Social users to thrive in, but what exactly does her day-to-day schedule look like?

  • 40% having conversations with our brand advocates and folks in our communities
  • 20% building visibility and credibility as “Sprout Vera” by attending Twitter chats and moderating our own #SproutChat
  • 20% strategizing ways to scale our communities and connect with new people
  • 10% analyzing efforts driving the most traffic
  • 10% creating relationships with people on different teams at the office (and drinking lots of coffee)

In short, a community manager acts as an extension of the brand they represent. They’re flesh-and-blood people who get in the trenches with clients and customers, meanwhile also engaging with new prospects on a regular basis. An effective community manager basically provides brands with a face that encourages personal connections between a company and its followers.

Where to Find Community Management Jobs

Does the role of a community manager sound like the one for you? Here’s how Vera would recommend you find a job in the space:

Fostering relationships is a huge competent of community management, so take time to build your own personal brand on social and turn to your own community when the time comes for a job search. Look for groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, attend meetups, and join some Twitter chats to meet new folks.

To run with Vera’s point, here are a few social groups you could start engaging with to help your job search:

While community manager jobs may be a bit harder to hunt down, bear in mind that there are plenty of companies looking to snatch them up.

The roles of social media and community manager are both so important, but easy for businesses to overlook. Understanding the difference between the two makes all the difference whether you’re trying to apply for social jobs or hire for each role internally.

This article was originally published on Sprout Social. It has been republished here with permission.