Community managers key to strong social media presence [GUEST POST: by Abby Stollar]

In today’s world, almost every business or organization “does” social media. While some use social networks simply as another promotional microphone, others embrace its openness and connectivity to engage with their key audiences. So, what’s the secret?

I wish I could tell you – it would probably make me a millionaire. Brian Solis would tell you the secret is to “engage or die.” Erik Qualman would tell you it’s about listening first, selling second.  Deirdre Breakenridge would tell you it’s about seeing your audiences as citizen journalists that all influence each other. Each of these thought leaders make valuable suggestions. But, you don’t need to go and hire a social media agency just yet. Some of the most successful social media strategies are a result of internal community managers who take the suggestions of these leaders to create a strong digital presence.

What is a community manager?

Community managers monitor, listen, and engage with audiences on a particular platform. According to Rachel Strella, owner of centralpawebster.com, a social media community manager wears the hats of “listening post, brand champion, and chief engagement specialist for that community.”

What’s the difference between a social media strategist and a community manager?

Each serves a different purpose. A social media strategist (or an outside agency) often sees social media through a strategic lens, identifying which platforms an organization should use, which promotions they should run, and which types of posts they should generate.

A community manager deals more with the tactical level of social media – responding to customer concerns, monitoring their online presence, and engaging with audiences through one-on-one communication. Community managers continuously engage in environmental scanning and maintain a conversation with audiences.  They are the online relationship builders and the voice of the community. Essentially, they are the shepherds, caring for their community members.

So, which one is better?

Both are important – social media managers often develop content, while community managers develop relationships.

Developing a social media strategy is key to sustaining an active online presence. This strategy establishes and guides a social media presence. However, a community manager is often key to maintaining open, one-on-one conversation with key audiences. Together, a social media strategist and community manager can help establish a well-organized, responsive online community.

How can you use both skill sets to increase your social media presence?

Always begin with strategy. Although social media may be a tactic, the best leaders identify an overall goal and how to achieve that goal before even making a Facebook account. Create a content calendar that aligns with your social media purpose.

After you have a purpose, use your community manager to interact with online audiences. Oftentimes, smaller organizations look outside for social media strategists and utilize internal communication staff as community managers. These individuals are most familiar with the brand and can therefore respond quickly, efficiently, and knowledgably to audience’s needs.

Ready to start building your own community management strategy?

  • Be ready to evaluate your success
  • Listen to your community
  • Offer value to attract audiences by developing a content plan
  • Use email to compliment your social media strategy
  • Connect in real life

Abby is a senior at the University of Delaware, majoring in Mass Communication and minoring in political science, political communication, and journalism. She is very involved on campus, currently serving as the president of her PRSSA Chapter, staff reporter for the campus newspaper, peer mentor for freshmen students, tour guide, and a teaching assistant. In addition, she frequently tweets (@abbynicole1204) and blogs at http://abbystollar.com.

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About Josh Beaty

Communication Specialist: Social Media, Interpersonal & Organizational Communication, Conflict Management & Resolution, and Relationships.
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