Confession: When I landed my first job as a community manager, I had no idea what a community manager even was. In fact, when I got my first-ever interview for a community management position I didn’t even apply for a few years ago, I almost turned down the interview. Why? Well, my logic was this. I’m not getting my marketing master’s degree to call noisy tenants and ask them to quiet down, or to investigate serious crimes like who could be parking in the wrong spot. If you didn’t understand my lame attempt at night humor, I was thinking of an apartment resident community manager.
What I thought the job was:
What the job is:
Of course, with a little research, I quickly realized that “community management” is a growing field within social media marketing, particularly popular in Spain and among tech start-ups. McDonald’s, Verizon, Hilton, and Microsoft are only a handful of power businesses with dedicated CM teams.
Before I share my day as a CM, I’m going to spend a little time describing the difference between a “social media manager” and a (social media) “community manager.”
Spoiler alert: There is no universal job description for a CM, as social media and other new technologies continue developing. Is there really a universal job description for any marketing job, anyway? However, in GENERAL, there are some distinctions between the two fields:
*Yes. I know it’s in Spanish – don’t worry. Translation to follow!
Retrieved Colateral Marketing
For those of you who do not read Spanish, (which, may I add, is an excellent idea for any future CM as Spanish is the second most natively spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese) it says:
A community manager (CM) is both the voice of the brand to the community, and the voice of the community to the brand.
A social media manager (SMM) is the voice of the brand.
A CM creates engagement and builds relationships with the community.
A SMM creates personalized content, accompanied by a creative strategy for social media channels.
A CM manages the community with certain specific social media platforms.
A SMM works with marketing, branding, and public relations.
A CM focuses on the engagement of platforms on social media.
A SMM manages the holistic efforts of the brand’s online presence.
A CM creates and moderates conversations to boost and grow the brand’s social community.
A SMM focuses on the large scope of digital marketing and online marketing strategies.
A CM manages scheduling posts and updating social platforms.
A SMM Administers and controls the budgets for different actions of the strategy.
Of course, there is plenty of overlap between the two job descriptions, but community managers tend to focus their efforts on building a solid community of brand advocates.
Here’s an example. Let’s pretend that I’m a community manager for a collection of beach resorts all over the world. Let’s start by setting the mood a little:
I’m too embarrassed by the pitiful beach photos I’ve taken during my lifetime, nor could I find anything from Creative Commons that struck my fancy. Therefore, a generic stock image from Classroom Clipart will do.
Note: This description was written based on my personal experience as a CM, and research from SproutSocial.
Since we have customers all over the world, I could theoretically be working on any day, at any time. Today, I’m working a 7AM-3PM shift. I don’t get a lot of sleep, since it’s difficult to sleep after so many hours glued to the computer and I’m so wired after work. My team and I are basically powered by caffeine. I spend my morning searching Facebook and Twitter for mentions of our brand name. I see a few posts praising our new hotel property. I ensure to respond to each post, thanking our guests and asking thoughtful questions in the hopes of beginning a meaningful conversation. Once a social media manager arrives around 9AM, the two of us meet to discuss strategy. I’ve been doing a lot of social research, so we have a lot to talk about. Community managers spend a significant portion of their day looking at 1) what’s being said about their brand, 2) what’s being said about related themes or topics relevant to the brand, and 3) what’s trending on social media.
For example, looking at #travel on Twitter, I’ve found an unusually large number of people are talking about going to Hawaii than ever before. There could be a number of reasons why people are suddenly interested in Hawaii (such as a new movie out that’s set in Hawaii, or celebrities/dignitaries visiting the area). Regardless, since the overall sentiment surrounding this high volume of tweets is positive, I suggest our SMM create content promoting our Hawaiian properties. I provide further insight to the marketing team and make more suggestions for shareable reactive content.
After our meeting, I deal with a few angry Facebook posts. While this might be handled by a SMM in some companies, at ours I also provide social customer service. A few guests were upset that their hotel room wasn’t ready by check-in. Since their conversation about our property’s service was particularly negative, I brought the conversation offline by sending them a private inbox. I found out the guests were still in-house at our resort, so I ensure that a representative on-site follows up and brings them a complimentary bottle of wine.
Another critical component of my job is to try and initiate a non-intrusive conversation with (current) non-customers. For example, since we have a beach resort near Laguna Beach, I might search for #LagunaBeach on social. I could comment something like, “Great shot!” on an Instagram photo of a beach sunset. I would never write anything such as, “Great shot – but we have a better view at our resort!”
I have to be really careful so that I’m not blocked by anyone, or come across as annoying or too promotional. CMs walk a very fine line. I want to build a positive brand association or relationship with someone. Social media is “personal” and people don’t want to see advertisements. I can’t explicitly come across as a walking billboard. I also might search for questions on Twitter, such as, “Where’s the best place to view the fireworks on Laguna Beach?”
If I can, I will answer. Even though I’m not directly promoting my hotel, I’m attempting to be helpful. I’m attempting to build a positive relationship with a potential future customer.
Before I know it, my day is over! The best part of my job is that two days are never exactly the same.
Are you a community manager? What tips would you give future community managers? Is your job similar to the imaginary “island resort” job that I described?