Before coming to work in the office, I was tasked with outlining the role of the community manager, as well as comparing this role to that of those who are in charge of social media, PR, sales, marketing, and quality assurance. Fortunately, there has been a lot of debate around the exact specifications of a community manager’s role, so there was plenty of information available for me to work off of. Though the role of a community manager is definitely a collaborative one that may cross over departments from time to time, what became clear is that, while they may not always agree on what they are, community managers are fairly unanimous on what they are not.
This phenomenon became particularly clear to me after I had already completed my first task when I read this article on ‘The Best (and Worst) Community Management Job Descriptions’
The role of the community manager
- Provide a clear vision of the community's purpose and goals, allowing participants to naturally place themselves in positions of leadership and support.
- Continuous effort to create and encourage horizontal engagement between users, allowing for a greater resource of knowledge and expertise.
- Interact with users on a personal and informal level, let them know they are heard and appreciated.
- Curate user generated content, as well as creating content themselves.
Community Management -vs- Social Media
While the community manager acts as a personal ambassador from the brand in user interactions, the social media manager speaks as the brand in order to track and maximise the brand's identity and recognition. Rather than being directly involved with customers, the social media manager is in charge of running campaigns and strategic planning for a brand's online presence.
Community Management -vs Sales
While many companies may hope that a good community manager will create and maintain a level of customer service, engagement, and trust that will elevate sales, this is not the prime purpose of community management. Sales may be a precursor to or a result of a community manager's interactions with customers, but the main concern is to foster the community itself, not sales.
Community Management -vs Public Relations
More akin to social media, but not restricted to online platforms, those who work in public relations are concerned with the brand's reputation and interactions with customers and other business as a unified, identifiable entity. Community management is not entirely removed from this, as it is undeniably an integral part of the overall brand, but where CM deals with people, PR deals with public image and is not concerned with individual customer experience.
Community Management -vs Marketing
Though it is necessary for a community manager to be a brand evangelist, it will be impossible to gain the trust of the users if the position is exclusively used to market products. The community manager listens to and engages with individual users, and within that relationship may promote their brand, whereas the marketer is concerned with demographics, market fluctuations, and designing brand identity.
Community Management -vs- Quality Assurance
Quality Assurance is a process that is carried out by those involved in the design, development, and implementation of a particular product. The appropriate level of quality for a product is determined by the specific users and customers and, therefore, involves community management to some degree. In order to provide the product or service that is expected by those who use it, the community manager must listen to the comments and complaints of users and relay them to the technical teams in charge of product design and quality assurance.
Three Main DO's of Community Management
- DO outline a clear vision or goal for your community - Why do people need this community? How will their engagement enrich their lives?
- DO formulate realistic strategies and objectives - Create an expected timeline, choose appropriate analytic tools, and start small.
- DO engage users and encourage interaction - Invite users who will benefit from your vision, make them feel comfortable, and make sure they know that someone is listening.
What I produced at the end of task one was a good start perhaps, but there is certainly a lot more to learn. You can view my results here.