When it comes to social media marketing and management within a small business, the roles of community manager and social media manager may blend or overlap. Small business owners wear many hats and are sometimes a jack of all trades. A business owner may fill the role of executive director, development director, PR, marketing, community out-reach/charitable activities and so on. Additionally, the business owner may act as the community manager while asking employees to be social media managers in areas of professional expertise or on platforms they have experience or feel comfortable using. Alternatively, a general manager may act as a community manager bringing together ideas from different areas of the business (see above graph) while collecting feedback from or listening to the needs of customers while monitoring treads occurring in the industry itself.
Once all information has been gathered and assessed, the general manager/community manager may sit down with employees who act as social media managers to develop content or to seed discussions. Social media managers then use the information garnered from the community manager to engage customers and community members on social media channels. It is the overarching role of the business owner or relevant department director to monitor the activity of not only the social media managers indirectly, but also of the community manager, the customers, competitors, the industry, important regional issues, and pertinent cultural concerns. While they may not engage in the minutia of community building or direct social media contact, their role is to keep their ear to the ground and a finger on the pulse of all aspects and interactions of their business or department and how it interacts with real and online communities.
All content, actions or reactions by social media managers and community managers should reflect the mission and vision statements of the company. Content should align with the goals and objectives of the company’s social media marketing strategies which, in turn, should reflect the goals and objectives of the business. This is also important so results of social media marketing can be measure effectively and incorporated into the company’s ROI. On the other hand, to be effective, content and engagement through any of the various social media channels must be personal. Employees must be trained in the “soft skills” of customer service and the online rules of engagement so as to strengthen soft ROI and community goodwill, whether that is online or in person. The rules of engagement as they pertain to social media outlets are really no different that engaging a person in a brick and mortar store. Although many using social media may not realize it, when we engage someone within an online community, we are engaging them in their own personal space, whether that be in their home or office, our interaction is occurring on a customer’s own terms. While they may not be able to “hear” us, many times tone in online exchanges is implied – correctly or worse, incorrectly. Just as a customer can walk out of a store without purchasing a thing, they can terminate their online contact with a click of a mouse.