Community Management Isn’t Content Creation


Here’s the job of a community manager:

  • Managing social media assets
  • Monitoring conversations/posts/tweets
  • Engaging with the community
  • Providing a voice/face/contact for the community
  • Providing expertise and counsel about utilizing social/digital channels

Here’s what the job of a community manager shouldn’t be:

  • Primary content creator

Yet many brands have their community managers providing most – if not all – of the content on their social channels.  No doubt community managers should be contributors of content, but they should not be controlling the channels.

Can you imagine a situation where one person inside a brand controlled all advertising?  Or one person determined what the company news was and wrote all of the press releases?  Of course not.  Those are established channels with built-in structures and organization firmly in place.

Yet too many brands continue to rely heavily on community managers to provide most of the content for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media channels.

As a result, many brands continue to treat social channels as real-time bulletin boards.  Posting everything from links to blog posts and press releases to inquiring their fans about their rooting interests in the Super Bowl or the Academy Awards.  And when they do use video or imagery it is produced by amateurs using iPhones or other mobile devices.

Think about it.  When is the last time you settled down to watch a crude, unedited video of a marketing manager at a trade show discussing his companies new product?

Bulletin board content pieced together by already overworked community managers is not a content strategy.  Nor is it this type of content effective in the long-term for building brand equity, increasing customer loyalty or getting people engaged.

Content should be at the center of marketing.  It needs to be produced by professionals that understand how to tell stories.  It should be dynamic and multifaceted and, of course, be engaging.  Social media should be among the channels where content is being distributed.  But great content should be used through all of a brand’s channels: advertising, public relations, media relations, internal communications and at events.

The most successful brands tell stories.

To tell great stories you have to stop relying on your community managers to produce your content.


Facebook is NOT a Bulletin Board

How to Proliferate Content

21 Responses to “Community Management Isn’t Content Creation”

  1. An interesting point you’re trying to make here, but I only half agree with you.
    As a community manager myself, I don’t feel that my job should be the ONLY person in a company working to create content. But, I do feel that creating content should 100% be PART of a community manager’s job.
    Your community manager is your link between internal personal and your audience/community/customers. They’re the person who should have their pulse on what’s interesting inside the company and what people are interested in outside of the company. Because of that, they’re actually the perfect person to know what kind of content should be being created. Sure, they should be getting assisted by all kinds of people from marketing to communications to account people or even your R&D team, but I truly believe that tehy should be a big part of the process.
    While content creation shouldn’t be the only thing you hire a community manager for, you damn sure want one that can still do it.

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos and Marketwire

  2. Hi Sheldon:
    No doubt a community manager is invested in and can provide insights on content. But you’re limiting yourself as an organization if your community manager is creating the content. First, content needs to be a central part of any marketing strategy and be integrated with advertising and communications. Most community managers are not capable of doing that nor are they even expected to. Quite frankly most don’t have the experience to do so.

    Content also comes in many forms – images, graphics, videos, applications, websites, info graphics, surveys, etc… I don’t know many community managers that are also application developers, graphic designers and executive producers. Content can’t be just about tweets and FB posts. It needs to go much deeper than that.

  3. Gosh George, the title and the cartoon caused such a visceral reaction for me. (well done). I couldn’t help my knee jerk response on Twitter. As a community manager myself, who creates deep content on a regular basis, I’m feeling a little peeved right now.

    Sure, not all community managers are the right person to craft deep content for a brand, but the fact is many of them are. We work with mid-size companies who rely on the community managers to keep their finger on the pulse of the community and create the content strategy in concert with the CXOs. Are there brands who don’t need the community manager in the content creation role? Of course.

    I could go on and on, but will save the rest of my rant for the blog post in the pingback. ( : Thanks for inspiring me this morning. I needed a Monday morning boost.

  4. Hi Janet:
    Sorry you’re so peeved. I’m not insulting community managers (if fact I have a whole gaggle of them on my staff). But I think you’re not seeing the larger issue of integration. Content should be a central part of a brand’s marketing and communications strategy – even if they are a mid-size brand. If the community manager is creating all of the content then the brand doesn’t have an integrated model. While community managers are an important part of the mix they should not be solo practitioners determining the content strategy for an entire brand.

  5. I see your point here, but there are no had and fast rules about how community management is practiced. What, I think, you are advocating is to have balanced content. The entire organization (when possible considering resources) needs to feed content to the social outposts. A community manager wears many different hats and should know the community desires and challenges better than any other employee. Engage the CM in the building of a content strategy and calendar. Not all content needs to be polished. The CM will know what type of content is appropriate and for what community. But keep in mind, every tweet and status update is considered content too.

  6. George, I still don’t understand why a community manager can’t play a significant role in a brands messaging. If the community managersets up an appropriate content strategy and will be implementing and they have a marketing/business/community background why shouldn’t they use their talents for the benefit of all?

  7. Hi Janet:
    The people who should “play the significant role in a brands messaging” are the senior leadership, including the CEO, CMO, VP of Marketing and the VP of Corporate Communications – not the community manager. That isn’t the role of a CM at any organization I’ve ever worked with – nor should it be.

  8. Hi Lauren:
    What I’m advocating is that content marketing be lead by the marketing leadership within any organization – just like they run advertising, lead generation and public relations. I’m advocating that marketing and communications be integrated through ALL the channels of an organization and that social channels not left to the whims and control of one or two community managers – no matter how good they are.

  9. George,

    I agree. All the marketing channels and the content SHOULD not be left in the hands of one or two community managers. There’s a reason why popularity of sites such as BuzzFeed and even exist after all, content IS and should always be provided and distributed by a group of people, albeit for one company or in the larger online realm.

    Personally, I’ve always looked at community managers as individuals or teams of individuals who aggregate content, create discussion and respond in kind to any questions that the community may have. While that isn’t a job done exclusively by community managers, more often than not, that is his/her responsibility rather than that of the people who provide the content.


  10. I agree with the general premise expressed here. I’ve been managing online communities for 13 years now and one of the things that I have noticed, as it has become a “hot” title, is the amount of stuff people try to pile under it. This stuff serves to generalize the role to the point where it was never a role at all.

    I believe that community managers can be content creators (in fact, they are, in as far as the community itself is concerned), but when I see “community manager” and all it means is posting on Twitter and blogging… that’s awkward for me. Community Management is not a replacement for writing, copywriting, customer service, SEO, social media marketing and all of the other stuff I’ve seen.

  11. I don’t want to be mean, but I don’t think you know what a community manager does. You’re describing a social media manager. Agreed – they shouldn’t be creating all the marketing content.

    Community managers build community. That may be on social media, that may not. Content can be a great way to do that. Community managers are not just a social media marketing role.

    Disagree? There’ve been community managers for more than 30 years. What did they do before social media? They built communities.

  12. Hi Evan:
    No worries – you’re not being mean. But this is a social media blog, so when I use the term community manager – I’m using it in that context. I’m not taking about community managers that work with kids at the YMCA or community managers for a downtown business association. I’m taking about online community managers for websites and social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.

  13. I’m not talking about community managers at the YMCA later.

    Although many tech companies have started calling their social media managers “community managers”, that’s not what the role ultimately is…and it causes a lot of confusion (such as in this case, where it might make sense for an actual community manager to write the majority of the content).

    This is obviously an ongoing debate and not something unique to your blog, but I’d urge you to talk about social media managers or social media marketing managers when referring to people whose job is to run social media. We don’t call salespeople “marketers”, so we shouldn’t call social media managers “community managers”.

  14. You are splitting hairs, Evan. Community manager is an accepted industry term for a person that manages the social channels for a brand.

  15. As someone who has worked as a community manager for 5 years, runs a community manager meetup with hundreds of members, and knows many people who have that title and don’t do social media, I can assure you that you’re misinformed. :)

  16. As some one who runs a digital practice and works with dozens of major brands who have community managers on their staffs that run digital and social properties I can assure you that I’m not. But it is likely that are different jobs with the same title.

  17. Exactly. :) Different jobs. You wouldn’t hire someone with no social media skills for your community management positions, right?

    If they’re different jobs they should be called different things…otherwise it makes hiring harder, certification harder, and more general confusion.

    The argument that I – and many other community managers – are making is that if your job primarily involves posting marketing content to social media, you’re a social media marketer or a social media manager. There’s nothing /wrong/ with that – it’s just a very different thing from community manager.

    Again, I’m not trying to put the blame on you here (and I apologize for being confrontational)…just saying that this distinction is important as the gap between these two roles widen, and we should all start acknowledging it. It’ll make life easier for everyone. :)

  18. I’m glad you understand that I’m not to blame for giving social types the name community managers. You should bring your complaints to the folks who recently started Community Manager Day – which celebrates those who manage social media communities. But you have a uphill battle, the name has stuck. Good luck…


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