Last month, the new president of France announced that he would pursue sweeping reforms of France’s somewhat burdensome labor laws. As a result, the satirical French publication, La Gorafi, reports that "community manager" will no longer be considered a real job title.
Obviously, they were joking.
Still, beneath this joke lies a faulty perception that exists in far too many organizations today. For some, the community management is a funny subset of social media management—a millennial code word for paying some guy or gal who’s paid to sit on Facebook all day long.
In these types of organizations, marketers looking for a dedicated community management team and strategy fight an uphill battle. In this post, I want to help them in that fight.
Customer Communication in the Age of Social Media
For more than half of the Americans on social media, those networks have become their go-to for communicating with brands. Because they prefer the immediacy social media offers, customers have gotten more demanding as well.
What are you doing to keep up with those communications?
Isn’t that what a social media manager is for? Why add a community manager as well?
That’s a fair question, but it betrays a fundamental confusion of the distinct roles social media and community managers play. Sprout Social helpfully parses this distinction:
Social media managers act as and for the brand online. They operate from behind the persona of the brand—creating and distributing content, interacting with customers, and so on.
Community managers operate under their own persona. They act as individuals connecting other individuals—not as a bloodless, faceless brand. Their task is to create a… wait for it… community of people who are excited about your brand and its mission.
The Hard Work of Building a Tribe
Community managers, unlike social media managers, prosecute the difficult task of going out and forming a coalition. This involves a vast array of interdisciplinary skills:
1. Social Listening – The community manager uses sophisticated monitoring tools to see who's talking about relevant topics online and then engages those people in conversation around your brand.
2. Analyzing Trends — His or her job isn’t only to see what people are talking about today, but to predict what they’ll be talking about tomorrow and begin developing content and steering the conversation in that direction.
3. Monitoring Analytics — Like any other employee, community managers are accountable for the results they deliver. That means continually monitoring key performance indicators and continually adjusting to the community’s needs.
4. Generating Content — On top of her social, analytic, and service-oriented tasks, the community manager continually needs to develop engaging content that will draw in new users even as it appeals to established members.
The Value of Building a Community
At the end of a day, your community manager does everything a salesperson does writ large. Every bit as much as your sales team, community managers go out there and cultivate a massive pool of warm leads, softening and preparing them for that eventual moment of decision in which they have the choice to convert or not convert, buy or not buy.
I've only begun to scratch the surface of benefits that an effective online community can bring to a business and the multifaceted role a community manager plays in that effort. We haven't even considered online customer service, customer experience management, and customer advocacy—all of which fall under the umbrella of, you guessed it, online community.
Alors oui, « community manager » est un emploi.
So yes, community manager is a job.