Community Manager vs. Social Media Manager

Careers in communication involve interaction. Whether a position relates to media outlets, business tactics, or matters of public interest, high-quality audience engagement is foundational to any successful communication-based strategy. Controlling this engagement is also important; with the proliferation of online and web-based platforms giving customers a stronger voice, steering the conversation to foster strong public relationships and place an entity in a positive light is more important than ever. Because of this, community managers and social media managers can be crucial players in a business’s growth strategy. While they share some similarities, it’s important for students interested in a communication career to know the differences between the roles of community manager vs. social media manager.

What Are These Professions?

The internet has created platforms in which businesses and the public can engage with each other more freely than ever. While this can help lower the walls that may exist between companies and clients, this interaction can become akin to the Wild West if left unchecked. As a result, community managers and social media managers have become important corporate roles.

Social media managers create content for a company’s various social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They help devise engagement strategies that match the company’s personality and voice and align with the character of its other marketing campaigns.

Community managers help devise business strategies based on public feedback. They engage the public through analyzing and interpreting current and potential clientele’s opinions and attitudes on various products and services.

Companies can use social media managers and community managers to build comprehensive marketing strategies that engage the public on multiple levels. Together, the two roles can provide key information on what customers want and what they feel about the products they have or the services they use. Ultimately, this can enable companies to form key connections with customers, which can foster trust, loyalty, and a sense of value among the company’s client base.

Community Manager vs. Social Media Manager: How Are They Similar?

Although “social media” doesn’t appear in a community manager’s title, both roles rely on social media platforms. Mining popular platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can yield rich information on the public’s thoughts and attitudes regarding trends or potential gaps in the marketplace. Social media managers and community managers alike can use this information to build the foundations for various marketing strategies. In some cases, they can use the data to help spur the development of a new product or service that might fill a perceived need.

Their association with social media makes both positions essential to a business’s marketing and growth strategies. Statista reports that 79% of the U.S. population engages with social media, and younger people generally use social media more than older people. Businesses that don’t tap into social media as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy are not only potentially limiting their chances for engagement but also missing out on opportunities to build strong brand loyalty among a younger demographic, a loyalty that can potentially last decades.

Each role also requires a similar fundamental skill set to be successful. Because proper engagement with the public is such a crucial part of these professions, community managers and social media managers must possess strong communication and interpersonal skills. Additionally, it’s important for those in both roles to have analytical skills to gain proper insight into the mindset of current and potential customers. It’s also important that these professionals have a strong ability to adapt to the newest trends in social media as it evolves from what’s popular now into what will be popular in the future.

Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Communication program features a curriculum spanning topics such as communication research methods, digital media, and media writing. The courses are designed not only to help students cultivate these core competencies but also to help them gain the knowledge necessary to develop effective marketing strategies that can influence a company’s growth

Finally, community managers and social managers earn comparable annual salaries. PayScale lists the median annual social media manager salary at around $50,000 as of November 2019 and the median annual community manager salary slightly higher, at approximately $51,400.

Community Manager vs. Social Media Manager: How Are They Different?

One of the key differences between community managers and social media managers is how their responsibilities influence the way in which the public perceives them. Social media managers use platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to directly engage with customers and the marketplace. This allows them to be the “face” of a company, using posts to create a brand persona that fits with a business’s marketing-driven character. Community managers, on the other hand, act as spokespeople for a company, informing the public on matters concerning a company’s current and future products or services.

Additionally, community managers help develop marketing strategies based on the feedback they gather from customers or clients. For example, a survey or an online poll could be used to determine a product’s popularity, which could help community managers develop a strategy to increase awareness of the product. Social media managers, on the other hand, analyze public trends and data to help develop an engaging voice to allow a brand to stay current and relevant to social media-based customers. This difference also underscores the unique missions of the respective roles. Social media managers tend to focus on brand awareness through character development and engagement, whereas community managers typically emphasize building customer loyalty by creating strategies influenced by client response.

Finally, social media managers fully engage the public on an online basis only. Community managers can take some of their interaction offline in the form of traditional media tactics, such as mailers or telephone surveys. This latter function can be important to maximizing a business’s reach into the public consciousness. While 79% of the American population engages in social media, that means 21% does not.

An Integral Part of Business Growth

While it’s wise to note the differences that make community manager and social media manager separate professions, it’s equally crucial to remember that both roles can fundamentally influence a company’s marketing strategies. By engaging with the public, these professionals can acquire vital data to inform a strategic marketing direction, which can lead to campaigns that maximize the ability to attract new customers and retain existing ones.

Learn more about how Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Communication can help students cultivate the knowledge and skills needed to help promote a business’s growth in either role.

Recommended Readings

Digital Marketing Trends Marketers Need to Know

The Future of Media: Concepts and Trends for Communication Professionals

How Online Influencers Are Shaping Future Sales Practices


Forbes, “How Social Media Can Move Your Business Forward”

Houston Chronicle, “Responsibilities of a Social Media Director”

Maryville University, Bachelor of Arts in Communication

Our World in Data, “The Rise of Social Media”

PayScale, Average Community Manager Salary

PayScale, Average Social Media Manager Salary

PR News, “The Differences Between a Social Media and Community Manager”

Social Media Today, “The Difference Between a Social Media Manager and a Community Manager”

Statista, U.S. Population with a Social Media Profile 2019

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