In the marketing field, the term “community manager” has become increasingly popular. Sometimes we hear these words so frequently, we think we are familiar with them, but still have no clue what the name truly entails. So what does this term really mean? A community manager is the online face (and voice!) of your company and the individual who interacts with your online audiences through various means including blogs, social networks, message boards and even online events. Ideally, this person should be savvy in online and digital marketing and may have responsibility for items ranging from communications and PR to social media, events, and even content creation.
The scope of responsibilities for a community manager and tasks they may be charged with will be different for different companies, especially when you consider the size of the company and their marketing and social media goals. The following are a few areas of responsibility that might apply to a community manager within a small to mid-sized B2B company:
Managing Social Networks – Perhaps the most obvious of all of the responsibilities is to manage the company’s presence on social networks. This might include recommending which networks are most appropriate, as well as creating, monitoring, and updating pages. Ultimately, your community manager needs to not only monitor what is happening but also set goals for growing the company’s presence and engaging with a targeted audience.
Creating Content – Depending on what other marketing resources your B2B company has, the community manager’s role may also include creating content in the form of blog posts, e-books, and webinars. Another responsibility of a community manager that is crucial for content marketing would be to create an editorial calendar of all of the planned content for a particular quarter.
Public Relations – In smaller or mid-sized companies, community managers can best support public relations efforts by building relationships with media contacts on social networks. The community manager should pay attention to local stories and share positive comments with the reporters and media contacts on social networks as they happen. Twitter is particularly good for this, but community managers may also leverage Facebook and LinkedIn to stay in touch. Then, when you have a story or press release, these contacts will be more receptive to hearing from your firm.
Integrating Events – The community manager should look for opportunities to integrate in-person events with social media. For example, if a partner or shareholder is speaking at an upcoming event the community manager could create an event on LinkedIn, share the information on Facebook and Twitter and live tweet tidbits from the day of the event. Social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are also great tools for spreading the word about online events such as webinars or Twitter chats.
Tracking Analytics – The community manager should use tools like Google Analytics to monitor traffic that is being directed to your Web site from your online marketing and social media efforts. Google Analytics also offers a Social Reports tool that should be used to track how long visitors from certain social networks stay on your website and what they do/where they travel within the website and also measure how your content is being shared on social networks.
Evaluating New Tools – In a smaller company, your community manager should also be responsible for staying up to date and in the know of the latest social media and online marketing tools. The community manager should evaluate tools and recommend strategies for using and implementing those tools that are the best fit with the company’s marketing and social media goals.
Measuring Effectiveness – A community manager should provide reports on social media metrics such as reach, engagement, conversion and ultimately leads, as this will be the most important thing to your management team.
Bottom Line: Do B2B Companies Need One?
So, do small to mid-sized B2B companies need an official “community manager”? The short answer is yes. But this does not mean that smaller companies need to go out and hire a new full-time employee with the official job title of “Community Manager.” This is becoming a very common job title in larger companies, but is simply not realistic for most small B2B firms. What is realistic, however, is to evaluate your existing human capital and determine who might be able to take on the role of community manager on a part time basis. It might be an admin, a Marketing Coordinator, or even a staff member with a particular interest in marketing and social media. This individual should work with upper management and their supervisor to outline the number of hours per week they can devote to community management and select the most important tasks to the firm from the list of responsibilities above. As the firm grows or additional resources become available, the firm can think about scaling these responsibilities up or even hiring a full time Community Manager.
Does your B2B firm have an online community manager? I’d love to hear about your model for this position. What tasks is your community manager responsible for and what have been your successes or failures? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!