We’ve talked about how paid social media has changed the game in online advertising, now we’ll talk about how social media has changed how we engage with consumers in general. For a long time, businesses questioned whether leveraging social media channels as a platform for consumer-to-brand interactions was a viable strategy, and now most businesses have a social media presence at one level or another. Not all the businesses utilizing social media are actively engaging in an ongoing social marketing strategy through these platforms, but they still acknowledge the potential on social media.
There are several ways to acquire leads through social media, though most are variants of “social media marketing” or “inbound marketing”. There is also another variant of these called “community management”, however the term has been used as a replacement or incorrectly altogether. Social media marketing and community management are two very distinct practices, and while they do share some of the same skillsets, to be successful in either one, you must understand the difference between the two.
It’s easy to confuse the two of these terms, but here are the short vague definitions:
Social Media Marketing is simply a way of using social media to promote your business or brand, to gain traffic or attention through social media sites.
Community Management is an attempt to cultivate, nurture or engage with an audience.
For the not so vague versions, we’ll dive in a little further:
Social Media Marketing (SMM) is a form of Internet Marketing that utilizes social network websites as a marketing tool. The goal of SMM is to produce content that users will share with their network on social platforms to help a company increase brand exposure and broaden customer reach.
Community Management (Social) is the process of advocating the business or brand on social media networks. Community managers actively go out within the online community to connect with potential customers and advocate the brand. Community manager will deal with current customers, past clientele, and potential prospects and engage with them on a more personable level.
Content is a key component in any marketing function, and social media is no exception. Even if you have dedicated bloggers, ebook writers, and designers, that content still needs to be adapted to each social network.
Efforts: Copywriting, design, photography and videography, positioning, creativity
As all marketing roles become more and more data-driven, a social media manager needs to be able to understand the data, analyze that data and draw actionable insights. That includes macro data like overall reach, leads generated, and leads nurtured, all the way down to micro data like individual experiments around content positioning. The social manager should also get to know the pulse of the community and be able to set goals that break the threshold and provide growth.
Efforts: Data analysis, A/B testing, social strategizing experiments
Being on social media is like being in a crowded room at a networking event — and a social media community manager needs to be in the thick of it. A successful social media community manager will be able to find new opportunities for the company by keeping a pulse on the industry. They need to know where to look for the news and what people are saying about it. They also need to know what’s changing on social networks and in the industry — and be able to react and respond accordingly. They should be skilled at “tactful newsjacking,” meaning the ability to (tactfully) capitalize on a news story, (think Oreo’s Super Bowl tweet), trend, or hashtag. And if something goes awry, they need to be able to mitigate the issue calmly and diplomatically.
Efforts: Content curation, effective information monitoring, professional communications skills, quick decision making, calm in the face of stress
When someone runs social media, they are the voice of the company to many audiences, including customers, potential customers, journalists, and fans. They’ll constantly get questions and comments about their company’s products, services, and content — which may not always be positive.
The social media community manager needs to be able to communicate with people in different buying stages (for example, customers and non-customers) and different dispositions. They’re the “traffic director,” and need to be able to understand where their followers’ question or comment is coming from, address it appropriately, and provide a course of action for resolution. In order to do that, they must be intimately familiar with their company’s brand, products, and services so they can do quick, surface-level troubleshooting.
Efforts: Strong communication skills, adaptability, calm, desire to solve others’ problems, ability to troubleshoot and know when to delegate, knowledge of the company/products/services.
Part of building a following on social media is helping that following connect with each other and become a community. True communities don’t simply engage with the company or moderator; they engage with each other — which actually scales the social media community much better, too. But community management takes work, including asking questions to seed discussions and kicking out people who spam or otherwise detract from the community.
Part of being a good facilitator is asking good, relevant, and thought-provoking questions in an engaging way. Another part is setting the tone for the community, being present, enforcing community guidelines, and sometimes even removing members or deleting posts when appropriate.
Efforts: Resourcefulness, ability to connect people and stimulate discussion, firm but empathetic
Social media is a powerful tool that can help the whole funnel, not just the top. It expands the reach of your content, attracts visitors to your website, generates leads, and nurtures them to become customers. That means a social media community manager needs to be able to pick and share content in a way that will accomplish each of those goals.
They need to share content that generate leads, and run new campaigns to find the best ways to do lead generation via social media. A social media community manager also needs to engage one-on-one with potential customers who are considering their company’s product or service, or simply need their help. Social media is particularly effective as a lead nurturing tool because prospects use multiple media (not just email) to consume information and social channels allow you to engage in a more timely manner.
In order to do all of this effectively, social media community managers need to have a strong understanding of the sales and marketing funnel, which leads to monitor and nurture, and what content to use in getting those leads to the next stage in the process. They’ll also need to pass appropriate leads off to the sales team and keep sales reps informed when there’s something they should know. Effective social media community managers are seemingly everywhere and in communication with everyone.
Efforts: Understanding of Sales Funnels, knowledge of content for each funnel state, basic sales skills, strong communication skills
Many people across a company may want certain things posted, responded to, favorited or Liked, and so on — and it’s up to the social media community manager to decide which requests to honor, and when to honor them. This means they need to be highly organized and able to manage multiple simultaneous (and possibly conflicting) requests. They need to be able to quickly assess whether a request would resonate with the company’s followers, or whether it’s too niche or too narrow. (For example, a location-specific post might be too narrow to send to a company’s entire Twitter following.) Social media community managers also need to effectively coordinate with different departments to organize campaign launches, while pushing launches and growth initiatives of their own.
Efforts: Strong organization skills, strong communication skills, ability to negotiate, data-based decision-making skills