8 Differences Between Community Managers and Social Media Managers

8 Differences Between Community Managers and Social Media Managers

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I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. I\’m careful about the kind of people that I connect with, and as a result I\’m exposed to some really interesting discussions and viewpoints – something that I find hard to come across on Facebook. Especially if it\’s anything related to the industry I work in.

Over the course of the last couple of months, I stumbled across a number of people who were Community Managers and Social Media Managers. When going through their job description – I noticed that they have very similar… roles? They both described themselves as the voice of their brand, as manning social communities and so on and so forth.

With the change in marketing principles and perceptions, companies today invest a lot in hiring able Community and Social Media Managers. But what are the real differences between Community Managers and Social Media Managers? Is it just the same role addressed in a different way by different companies and countries?

The Overlapping Roles

The most common misconception is that there are more similarities than differences between Community Managers and Social Media Managers. From a distance, they might seem similar in more ways than one because of a host of over-lapping duties, or what they\’re expected to do. Most people think that they do the same thing but just have different titles. But the truth is that the treatment and expectation from a Community Manager and a Social Media Manager should be very different.

Crystal Jiang, Community Manager APAC at Hootsuite states, “Social Media Managers and Community Managers are both responsible for engaging audience online through different social networks on a daily basis. While Social Media Managers have a focus on finding advanced tools to manage social content and create measurement, Community Managers also focus on building relationship with communities and influencers through offline events. For example, at Hootsuite, Community Managers not only cultivates online community in different regions, but also organizes offline events #HootUp to bring the local community together.\”


The most significant role in this context lies at the hands of businesses hiring these individuals.  Just like one would not expect an eye surgeon to treat a neurological disorder, considering both are doctors the same situation defines the role of a Social Media Manager and Community Manager. Whether your company has a B2B approach or a B2C approach would clearly define the difference.

Lucie Snape, Head of Social at Vodafone Australia told us, “The biggest difference in my opinion is that a Social Media Manager should have a strategic view. The Social Media Manager sets the strategic direction and the Community Manager implements through tactical execution, namely, effective content creation and delivery, and ongoing community engagement and growth”

So What Are The Differences Between Community Managers and Social Media Managers?

We dwelled into this ‘thin-line’ approach and did some hardcore research by interviewing tons of Community and Social Media Managers. LinkedIn was very helpful at providing a breakdown in their responsibilities as well. Our results have led to the creation of this infographic (What?! Another damn infographic?!) to felt differentiate the roles of a Community Manager and a Social Media Manager.


Not everyone will agree. And we know that. We\’d love to hear what you think. There are probably TONS of one-man social media teams out there handling everything and anything for a brand online. Tell us what you think! Is there a much bigger difference that we\’re missing out on? Are there a lot less differences and we\’re just playing it up? Should there just be one role?

Here\’s that line which points you to the comments and asks you to share your views. Because you know, engagement. But seriously, do it. Share an idea, spread a thought!

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About Taru Bhargava

An ex-banker and a social media enthusiast, Taru's love for crisp content makes her a digital analyst who picks at campaigns and dissects their strategy - word by word. She loves good food, tea and slapstick humor.
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  • http://beta21.circussocial.com Avtar Ram Singh

    For larger brands, there’s a clear distinction. Agencies make a distinction. When it comes to small businesses who don’t really have a “social media” department and just have a marketing team in which there’s one guy handling social – he’s… everything. And the roles then start to overlap.

  • http://www.Pet360.com/ Rebecca Braglio

    Interesting post and infographic! What is your opinion on the argument that a social channel/page isn’t a community but rather a fan base? The other difference, in my opinion, between the two roles is that a Community Manager doesn’t just build relationships between the brand and the community, but also connects the community with EACH OTHER. The social media manager is more focused on building relationships with brand fans and not encouraging engagement among its fans.

    • http://beta21.circussocial.com Avtar Ram Singh

      Hey Rebecca – I guess it comes down to how you look at your page “likes” or your Twitter followers and so on and so forth. If you think of them as a fan base, I think you start taking them a little bit for granted and elevate your brand to be one that has “fans” rather than one that has generated a community around what it does and stands for. Curious to know how you feel a community manager would build a relationship between members of the community? Something like this on a Google+ community is easy to do of course, but becomes much harder on Facebook/Twitter.

  • Eric Peterson

    The “Focuses” line should be swapped, as the Community Manager has more of an overarching management role here with the Social Media Manager which focuses solely on the social sites. Also, a Community Manager is often in charge of the Social Media as well as larger companies, so the SM is often under the CM in this respect.

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