#CmgrChat – 1/11/12 – The Role of the Community Manager

We started 2012 off by hitting the ground running by essentially asking “What is a Community Manager?”  We discussed the roles of a community manager back in one of our first chats in 2010, and I can tell you that the discussion has evolved a lot since then and people have become quite protective of their community manager title vs that of a social media manager.  In early 2011 we posted, “You May Not Be a Community Manager, & That’s Ok” regarding the difference, and today we saw 817 tweets discussing the topic.

If you’re looking to hire a community manager and don’t know where to start, this is a good resource.  Or are you suffering from a crisis of identity and want some clarification?  Read the tweets below.

Q1) Do you need social media to be a community manager?

JGfromOC I don’t think so. Community can be offline and cultivated through other channels. #SocialMedia just happens to be a great tool.

themaria You don’t *NEED* social media to be a CM, but in today’s world, probably advisable 🙂 You can do more / scale more

Ryan_Olsen Nope. Not at all. It helps, but communities have existed online and *gasp* offline for a long time before social media

jennyweigle Do you need social media to be a community manager? Depends on which communities are important to your business

evanhamilton You don’t need social media to be a community manager. It’s a powerful tool, but you can have a community anywhere.

muruganpandian Technically, I guess one could be a community manager in a private, closed network without social media.

misskatiemo Need? No. Communities existed offline WAY before they did online. Just happens to be very SM-related right now.

mbhahn if you have an online community, that means people are talking, you should know what they are saying about your brand

omgitsamr While I appreciate that you can have offline communities, at this point you’d be foolish NOT to incorporate social media

trustmuse I don’t think it’s a need, but you need to go where your community wants to be You can’t force them to go social media either

hillaryboucher Not a prerequisite but a valuable supplemental tool. I think today’s def of cmgt implies an online component

muruganpandian The older titles might have used the term “moderator.”

Q2. What are the main detailed differences between Community Manager & Social Media Manager? How do tasks/metrics differ?

evanhamilton A community manager builds community. A social media manager manages social media. CM should be managing a SMM.

JGfromOC I think sometimes the lines blur. CM is usually the day-to-day online community lead, SMM is building the strategies for them.

LovelyLu Community Manager reaches far past social media venues. They use Social Media, but aren’t confined to it.

maggielmcg  To me CM is more about relationships; SM is more about content

muruganpandian Community Manager (Keep the conversation going) & Social Media Manager (Execute the strategy to enhance the reach and presence)

momnonstop Metrics depends on the company’s goals (or should). Tasks are dependent on the strategy for both (community and social)

Bsimi I see CM direct w/ the ppl. SMM now means adwords/re-marketing/SEO/SEM the guts of what makes the community more robust.

CoryOBrien  Tasks/Metrics: CM should measure conversation, depth, engagement. SMM should measure reach, growth, conversion.

Tribe2point0 Community managers executes posts, responds to questions, and comments. SMM designs strategy, creates content, measures results

JGfromOC As for metrics, CM is going to be looking more at engagement data and the SMM is translating that into the bigger biz picture

hillaryboucher SMGR focuses on the tools as means to accomplish goals & cmgrs focus on the strategy to build & maintain relationships

misskatiemo SM manager is more outward-focused, whereas a CM focuses more on the existing community. Both do both, but it’s a % thing for me.

JPedde CMs and SMMs are a set. They have to come together as a set, different focuses.

RJoySocial SMM responsible for helping to create strategy & analytics for the plan, the CM executes, has conversation, monitors.

JPedde The metrics are very different. A SMM would count FB page growth… a CM dives into what the 1:1 engagement means.

djfanco Social Media Manager sounds more tactical, despite being actively conversant. A #CMgr has to be strategic

Historian SM is one channel, CMGR should be looking at that plus forums, emails, internal communications

Q3) How does a community manager demonstrate engagement metrics that aren’t social media growth metrics?

vargasl You don’t measure social media metrics…you measure what you want to be. Impact. Blend of on & offline = cmty health

Bsimi Converting ppl from your social networks to your cash register. The only engagement that really matters is $$$

CoryOBrien Sentiment is a big sign of a good community manager. Change from negative to positive should be seen as a big win.

evanhamilton CM engagement metrics might include % comments, time on community portals, customer satisfaction, buzz..

evanhamilton …and social media, because that’s a big facet of most CM jobs. Again, why I think SMM works under CM.

LaurenEHarper I think it depends on ur platform. We measure activity on our site within different topic areas. Totally separate from social

mbhahn All the gritty stats of usage are main stats for CMs

CoryOBrien  Repeat participation is also a good sign. When people come back, they’re hooked by the community & looking to engage further.

TerraIncognita Looking at clicks, open rates, posts, number of comments, number of shares, basically measuring more activity than growth

omgitsamr Sentiment, time spent on site, mentions, unique comments, etc

jennalyns Clearly outline objectives of strategies and tie success measurement to those. Very specific to company.

Tribe2point0 Improved customer service, sales, and loyalty

jonjohns65 Give your community something to do that is measurable; gamification, structured feedback, make them feel valuable

Q4. How does a community manager’s role/responsibilities grow? (From Assistant to Strategist or beyond)

Historian It’s adapt or die, right? You take on the tasks and duties as they are needed.

themaria that Q has no answer 🙂 There are a million ways a CM can grow, but mostly through demonstrated success & exec. support

evanhamilton Ah, my hobby horse. 🙂 CMs should become Director of Community, providing guidance to all parts of the co.

evanhamilton I called it Chief Happiness Officer when I wrote about it last year (, though everyone hates that name.

djfanco  #CMgr roles grow in my orgs based on direct reports, size of projects, and number of Communities/genres managed

CoryOBrien Get more involved in measuring metrics, developing plans, highlighting trends, and gathering business insight

JPedde It’s like any other position… start as a Community Assistant -> Manager -> Strategist ->Director of Community ->Chief Com Off.

vargasl Hierarchy still in flux. Depends on biz/cultur/size of org. Was a Director & now Strategist. One is not higher/diff orgs


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About the author

Jenn Pedde

Jenn is a Co-Founder of The Community Manager and the Editor-In-Chief. She’s also an adjunct professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies. You can find her almost anywhere online, but specifically on #CmgrChat every Wednesday from 2-3pm ET.


  1. […] (maybe because they look to be copied and pasted) and don’t have much added value – see The role of the community manager from 11 January, added 1 […]