By Amanda Smyth Connor
They’re the same thing, right? They both involve engaging your audience, creating brand awareness and sharing great content that will drive people to a product, site or information. Right? Right??
These two positions are often confused and are, more often, used interchangeably. While there is a great deal of overlap, these positions require very different skill sets. If you are a freelance writer looking to get into social media management or community management, you need to know the difference before you get yourself in over your head.
Community Managers are a liaison between the audience and the proper internal stakeholders. Community managers use proactive and reactive communication strategies to engage the audience and to gather feedback. They analyze the information that comes in (which is invaluable feedback!) and make recommendations that are passed along to IT, marketing, PR, customer service and sales departments. It is also the CM’s job to monitor the brand/product online across all channels (internet-wide). The internet is a big place. Without a CM, how will any buisness know what is being said about their product or site without someone to watch, interact, analyze and report back?
Social Media specialists strive to create strategies for bigger community engagement. From Facebook strategies to Twitter to [insert social media channel here], the social media specialist is the bigger picture person when it comes to the “how” of reaching and engaging customers. SMers can come from a variety of backgrounds but most often have a deep interest in marketing and brand management. If the community manager is the “voice” of the brand, the SM is the “head.”
And while these two positions are different and should not be confused, they must work closely together to create and execute a great social media strategy. You can’t just hire one, you really need both, and they need to work in tandem to be effective. What is a head without a voice, and vice versa?
Are you looking to get into the social media side of freelance writing? There’s a huge need for fantastic writers who can create really engaging content. Just make sure you are very aware of the requirements of the job you are applying for. Because these positions are so new, more often than not job descriptions for these positions are inaccurate and many companies don’t fully understand their own social media needs nor how to identify the right candidate for the position. Do your homework and understand EXACTLY what you can offer before applying for any positions.
Amanda Smyth Connor is a social media manager for a major publishing company, owns her own wedding planning business, and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies. She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.