Within the technology world many are interchanging community and network much like many in business are combining community and social media managers.   Communities and networks are both vital for companies to create relationships and build trust with their users but companies must understand the difference between the two and hire those managers with the correct skill sets for each.

When those of us in the tech world think communities we think about cisco, vmware and oracle communities where people are united around a product or suite of products sharing knowledge and building a growing learning community.

Networks have always been associated with social media or a collection of business cards and old coworkers that you are told to stay in contact with incase you need your network to help you down the road.

As social networks become the common communication platform for many in technology it becomes essential for communities to use social networks as tool to connect with users in their community.  Companies must empower community managers to utilize all communication measures possible to connect & create relationships with customers: Social networks Phone, Events, Email, Mail, etc..

What are communities compared to networks?


Communities are held together by the passion and focus on a common interest or cause often times coming from different backgrounds and experiences.  Communities are free flowing focused on user to user driven interaction with as little oversight and direction as possible.   


Networks are held together based on a interpersonal relationships which are usually started on a one to one basis then expanding through mutual friends or connections.

Social Media Manager Vs. a Community Manager

Community Manager

Connector of People

Public Face of the Brand

More of an Evangelist than a Strategist

Focused on Relationships & being the voice of the community

Promoting and sharing UGC content

Social Media Manager



Data Driven

Online Social Network Focused

ROI, SEO, Online 24/7 interaction

Involved in branded Content Creation


Neither of which are a job title IMO…

Community Managers have always existed as the people who built relationships, checked in on customers, updated and took feedback from the users, customers and influencers.  Community managers focus of the culture and community reputation of the brand both internally and externally.

Social Media Manager well that of course is a newer role as social media hasn’t been around that long and the idea of brands using social media has been even a shorter time period.

Where these two can get confusing is on G+ which is a social network (Some might even argue that) you can communicate and build your network like you would on Facebook & twitter but the foundation of engagement and interaction on G+ is done on what they call “Communities” which are built as unique environments with different guidelines and missions then G+ as a social network.

So with all this being said it’s important for companies to understand the importance of company culture, employee engagement and internal community first.  They then can focus on external communities that are created with a purpose and unite people who are passionate and want to establish relationships.  To do this they need to be active on networks and in other communities that their users participate in.   To make all of this happen it is important to hire people with the right skill sets for both community manager roles and social media manager roles while also establishing a culture built around “dotted-lines” allowing for open communication and collaboration between teams activating social employees to help the community manager create advocates and a strong community!

This post was written by Brian Fanzo. Brian likes to describe himself as a social ambassador turned Social Technology Evangelist. Follow Him on Twitter! -> | @iSocial_Fanz | Brian Fanzo