It’s an easy mistake ed in quite broad or very specific terms. For example, if you define social media marketing as any and all activities on social media that are designed to sell your brand and your product, it can easily be argued that community management should be included under that umbrella.
But it’s also possible, and probably best, to separate community management from social media marketing entirely to be more specific about exactly what you hope to achieve. While the two are closely connected, what really sets them apart from each other is the intention – two different ways of reaching a similar goal.
Social media marketing
This is where you leverage social media with the direct intention of selling your product or raising awareness of your brand. Activities that fall under social media marketing including advertising on various platforms or posting all about your product, why it’s so great and where to purchase it. Giveaway campaigns and interactive posts that encourage people to share your content organically would also fall under social media marketing.
As we’ll see, some of these activities can also be included in community management and you can often kill two birds with one stone in this way: raising brand awareness and making sales while growing your community. But community management contains at least one element that social media marketing does not.
This is where your thought process goes beyond making a sale. Though that is the inevitable result, it isn’t and shouldn’t be on your list of priorities when managing a community. This is what community management has that social media marketing doesn’t: posts and engagement that are designed to offer value beyond your product and build a community of people interested in the field you’re active in rather than making a direct sale.
The rule in community management is that 80% of your content should be focused on giving information and sparking debate while just 20% should be about you and your product. While you are sure to make plenty of conversions in this way, you also build a community of dedicated followers who believe in what you do and essentially act as your ambassadors – much more effective than a banner ad.
Odds are you’ll want to implement a bit of both into your outreach strategy and as we said, you can even do both at the same time. After all, that 20% of the content you post about you is basically social media marketing. But with a community of interested participants already in place, that marketing is set up to be far more effective than if people were hearing about you for the first time. What’s important is that you know the difference so you can plan carefully and properly organize your operations.