If you want to build a healthy online community, having a skilled, knowledgeable Community Manager or team on board is essential. Having an employee working on the frontlines with users, building, strengthening and maintaining relationships accelerates the growth of communities and makes for a healthy, vibrant space.
A thriving community is also an invaluable source of feedback on what a business is doing right and where they have room for improvement.
So why does is seem that so many businesses hire Community Managers only to have them do social media marketing? In this emerging field, I think there’s still a fair bit of confusion about what exactly community management is and isn’t.
Sure, a good Community Manager can juggle community building work alongside growing likes, tracking “clicks” and other social media marketing metrics, but I’m of the opinion that’s a waste of valuable talent.
In many situations, the community manager is asked to wear a lot of hats, especially when staff is small, but for many CM’s (myself included) marketing and advertising duties are not where our interests lie. Good community managers are concerned with things like the behavioral economics of online interaction and the psychology of decision-making, but in a fundamentally different way than someone coming from a marketing perspective.
Have your interns delete spam from the blog. Ask the marketing department to “craft tweets”. Facebook likes can be easily bought, Twitter followers too – these are increasingly meaningless numbers and having your community manager focus on these things is at the expense of your community’s potential – and probably your community manager’s morale too.
Use your community team where they have the most real impact: in community facing spaces, building relationships 1-on-1 with your users. Leave marketing to the marketers.