“Community” is not marketing, support, PR, product, or communications, but it sure plays a role in all of them, and should have a seat at the table for each area in order to bring the voice of the user/member/participant to the forefront.
It is not a position that must go to your recent graduate hire who was an intern last summer and “gets social” and it is also not something that gets folded into the seasoned communications pro of 25 years’ day to day functions. To be clear: the role CAN go to either of these two if they’re qualified. Oftentimes community does get housed in the above—but usually because executives don’t yet know what to do with it.
Community should still function as its own entity—with the business objective it’s housed in as its goal.
Community management in the past few years has come to swallow up social media tools in its job descriptions, but “managing accounts” is not the sole responsibility.
Why haven’t we gotten to the point of “Social Media Account Managers” yet?
“Hi I’m Stacie—and I’m the Communications Account Manager for Brands X, Y, and Z handling Facebook & Twitter, at So and So Agency”
“Hi I’m Pete and I’m the Visual Media Account Manager handling Pinterest, YouTube, and Tumblr here at Sample Company”
These sound so much clearer than “I’m a community manager.” (Though I worry for all of the above should Facebook shut down or Twitter stop working because they’re all unowned properties—but that’s another post for another day.)
What other tasks are community managers not well suited for, specifically?
- Brand awareness?
Have your PR staff take this over (and educate them on being human, not PR spokespeople) with the community manager’s guidance.
- Lead Generation?
Community managers in general operate in an organic capacity, so leave them out of any of your paid initiatives when it comes to ad buying, affiliate marketing or partnerships.
- Trying to acquire new fans?
Have your internet marketing team own this branding & fan acquisition initiative and pair them with a SEO strategist/web data team/social media manager.
- Determine web analytics?
If you’re counting FB shares, Twitter shares, +1s, web traffic, blog comments, you’re not a community manager. Outside of “growth” what do those things tell you? Nothing of any value. But if you’re actively engaging in conversations, creating events & meetups to get your members together (virtually or in person), you’re in community. A community manager will work with the web data team to track all of these activities and see if they’re working in marketing/sales.
- Managing your content?
This could go in a few ways depending on the size of the blog, who the writers are (are they community members?), and how much content you’re producing.
- Building out product?
That’s for your tech development team. Community managers can be active with that team, though, to provide feedback, notes, and insight.
- Trying to get your users/fans/members to talk to each other and keep coming back?
THERE is where you find your community manager.
So what DOES a community manager do?
Communication, moderation, guideline writing, engaging day to day online (forums, owned communities, blogs, newsletters) and offline (events, conferences, meetups), strategy, working with the social teams/marketing/support/product/PR/management, surveying, customer service, and a variety of other activities.