Community Manager vs Strategist


(Sarah Hawk) #1

I notice that a few people have been searching for the term “Community Manager vs Strategist” here recently. It made me curious.

In my early days working in community, I called myself a community strategist to differentiate what I did from the more widely recognised forum admin role (which used to be known as CM in some cases).

I’m not sure it’s still relevant.

Does anyone work for an organisation that distinguishes between the two?


(Shreyas) #2

We had the thought of hiring a Community Strategist at one point. The community manager handled online presence, acted as the face of the company, organized meetups, social media, partnerships and also got his hands dirty in marketing. The responsibility of the Community strategist was to work closely with the tech team to gather data, analyze that and suggest improvements. Some of our data points were as follows:

  • How many DAU’s do we have & what can we do to increase that
  • What is the average duration of a session & how do we increase that
  • Build a word cloud
  • What kind of discussions get more clicks
  • What are the most frequently asked questions

Based on the above, the community strategist suggested the following:

  • This was possible by improving push notifications & making it more intuitive.
  • We increased this by introducing fun contests with amazon gift cards for the winners.
  • Just so that we could take a large print out and stick it in our office :grin:
  • We found out that people were interested in local news so we automated that by creating a BOT that posted local news.
  • People generally asked for a maid, an experienced cook or a house for rent. We partnered with local startups that were offering these services and got them on our platform to respond to user queries.

Note: We realized that we didn’t have the budget to hire a community strategist, so the community manager suited up as the community strategist.

PS: I was the community manager :slight_smile:


(Sarah Hawk) #3

You’d need a fairly big community to necessitate both roles, I would have thought.

Having said that, I know of situations where CMs have been concerned about drops in engagement while they prioritising strategy.


(Piper_Wilson) #4

What’s a DAU, please?

Too funny. :slight_smile:


(Sarah Hawk) #5

Daily Active User (often referred to in conjunction with MAU – monthly active users)


(Nikoletta Harrold) #6

It’s funny, that’s exactly how I started my career. I took the WOMMA certification for Community Management and Community Strategy and at the end of the courses I thought, man those are basically identical and should not be split. You can’t do management without having a strategy and in most companies they are one role, because not many can afford to have two people working on Communities yet.

Overall I would make this differentiation:

Strategist thinks ahead in the roadmap for 3/6/12 months and builds networks to support the community manager.
Manager works on day to day community work such as executing engagement, growth and infrastructure and evangelizes the community internally.

But honestly, it could be understood completely differently too.

The one differentiation I have seen work really well before is Community Admin vs. Community Manager, where the admin works on all the platform and infrastructure updates/ roadmaps and the Community manager builds the community to the members through engagement, activation and content.

I like that better, it’s easier to define and cleaner to execute. But that’s just my $0.02


(Richard Millington) #7

Community manager, strategist and director seem to be used relatively interchangeably.

My expectations would be a for a community manager to be doing the day to day work in the trenches (replying to discussions, interacting with members etc…), the strategist I’d expect to be building internal relationships, analyzing data, identifying long-term trends, setting roadmaps/plans, and the director would be managing small to medium-sized teams.

I think there’s possibly more confusion between the strategist and director than community manager and strategist.


(Nikoletta Harrold) #8

So how would you define a Director @richard_millington?


(Richard Millington) #9

I wouldn’t define it precisely, but it definitely has to compare to other director-level roles within the organization.

I tend to think of it more as a subjective range of criteria.

But I’d definitely expect a director of the community to have a similar responsibility as others at the director level. This would include:

  • A discretionary budget of six figures (or at least five figures) they are authorized to use.
  • Managing a team of 5+ people.
  • Reporting into a C-level / VP level figure within the organization.

Anything below that and there is probably some title inflation creeping in. I definitely know some community professionals who have the title without anything close to a director-level sense of responsibility.


(Piper_Wilson) #10

@HAWK - Thank you. :slight_smile:


(Chris Detzel) #11

My boss is a Group Director of Community and Social and reports into the Senior VP of eCommerce. He also manages the budget, and there are five of us, as I manage two developers.