Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Community Manager vs. Conversation Manager vs. Social Media Manager

Patrick Attallah, Co-Founder & COO of GLITNER and Senior Consultant at ME&NA Consulting is one of Europe's more interesting commentators on new digital media today.  He sheds light on a new aspect of how any business needs to develop today.  He brings meaning to new media jargon in the film world.  
His blog post 'Movie & Television Social Media Marketing' identifies where social media technologies could help filmmakers and distributors, such as in :

- providing insight and commentary in real time (from location during shooting)
- promoting special contests, sneak previews facilitating collaborative video production experience
- involving online communities in the design building conversation about the movie or television season or   individual episodes
- opening dialogue between promoter and promotion participants
- movie & television website traffic generation
- promoting events such as movie premiers
- posting press releases

April 6th, 2010 Patrick recommends this article, 'Community Manager vs. Conversation Manager', quoted here verbatim as an example of his bridging the divide between digital thinkers and those building guidelines for film production / distribution / sales companies.

As the use of social technologies begins to climb the maturity curve, new skills (until now not widely understood) such as community & conversation management have begun to move to the forefront of discussions within businesses. Most are starting to realize that they have a missing job function in their team. But which job function: a Community Manager, a Social Media Manager, a Traffic Manager or a Conversation Manager.

Considering what Nestlé’s Facebook Fan Page went through a few days ago, it is becoming important for most brands to start having dedicated resources to manage their conversations. But businesses need to understand whether they need primarily a content-oriented person or a relationship-oriented person.

John Bell in a recent blog post described both functions of Community and Conversation Managers as follows:

Community Manager: Here’s how I see the main responsibilities of a community manager:

  • Steward a community conversation amongst a group of people who have come together to interact together presumably over some shared affinity (they all love Dancing With The Stars TV show; they are all moms with grade school-age children; they drive the same car)
  • Help keep order with a soft touch
  • Remain responsible to the community first

The job is really to nurture and often grow a community of people. Now, the affinity that brings them together may be the brand. That gives the community manager license to participate in the community but certainly not at the expense of the other community participants.

Conversation Manager

A Conversation Manager is a bit different especially as we think about how Twitter and Facebook work. Even with the threaded comments available now in the Facebook Wall posts, These are streams of utterances and brief conversations. More importantly, brands are hosting their own handles and pages which feel more personal and involved. A Conversation Manager’s responsibilities include:

  • Offering fans and followers a steady stream of valuable content and experiences
  • Responding to visitors who want to engage with the brand or need some help
  • Offering a pov as a brand or subject matter expert

Steven Van Belleghem believes ...that ‘traditional advertising no longer works. Advertisers need to change their day-to-day working methods. The gap between the contemporary consumer and the traditional advertiser is growing on a daily basis. This era is not the end of the advertising market, though it is the end of the advertiser!‘ He explains this change of trajectory from advertiser to Conversation Manager in his recently published book titled The Conversation Manager and following presentation.
          What about the Social Media Manager?
Rachel Happe has taken a stab at articulating the primary responsibilities of both Social Media and Community Managers. Here is how she defines the responsibilities of the Social Media Manager:

  • Content Creation (Blogging/ vlogging/ podcasting) designed to spur conversation/ viral sharing 
  • Responding to conversations about the brand and the content 
  • Ensuring input/feedback gets channeled to the appropriate internal functional group 
  • Curating and promoting UGC [whatever that is - Ithought it was a French exhibitor/ distributor/ producer/ ISA]
  • Managing tools – mostly social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) and blogs 
  • Reporting/measurement

So what do you think? Do you agree that there is a difference in these three roles? and if so, do you agree with how they have differentiated them? If you happen to be a ‘community manager’ or a ‘conversation manager’ or a ’social media manager’ reading this post, please do share with us your views on your job function and the challenges you are facing every day

Other related articles:

Community management: The ‘essential’ capability of successful Enterprise 2.0 efforts

A Community Manager and a Social Media Manager Walk into a Bar…

Community Manager or the Art of Ambiguity: an introduction


  1. I'd agree that there's a difference between Community Management and Conversation Management, especially.

    Are you familiar with Robert Greenwald's Brave New Films (www.bravenewfilms.org)? I think his is a site that marries both Community and Conversation Management. They promote activism (community) and raise consciousness/shine light on issues (conversation) via individual documentaries.

    Then there's Raymond De Felitta's City Island movie with Andy Garcia. De Fellita maintained a blog throughout the process of making the movie - at moviestildawn.blogspot.com. I think his blog qualifies as a Conversation tool, moreso than a Community-building website.

    In general, I don't believe most narrative filmmakers have figured out, yet, how to truly build Community around their stories, except as behind-the-scenes, how-we're-making-our-movie blogs.

    I'm aware of a couple exceptions, but they've been genre narratives, not dramas, comedies, etc. Non-fiction filmmakers have more examples to draw from of documentary films that have successfully attracted and rallied niche audiences to themselves, based on the topic/issue their films are about.

    To me, a more pertinent question is "How do non-genre narrative films manage their social media?" At a minimum, as a producer, I believe it's absolutely necessary in today's social media environment to engage in Conversation with one's target audience well in advance of the movie being released. In addition, what I'm aiming to do is see if and how I can further build Community around the theme(s) of my narrative project, as well - www.lostinsunshine.com.

    Conversation or Community Building takes forethought, resources, personnel, and frankly, it's like producing two projects in one - the web presence, and the movie, itself.

    I think it's a LOT for narrative filmmakers to digest. The technology of making movies is immersive, itself. Add to that, Google analytics, click-through rates, Search Engine Optimization, and so on, and one's head feels like exploding.

    As such, an essential member of our team is an experienced web developer who helps me monitor all our current social media aspects, as well as further SM/web aspects we might exploit/grow into. I know I couldn't do it all myself, and I even have a background in designing interactive multimedia.

    Thanks for the links in your post, Sydney. So interesting!

  2. Thank you for this important addition to this topic. You might join the conversation of Glitner on Linked In. What you have to say is very relevent. Your blog which your name above took me to is also a very impressive example. Are you connecting to the psychic and self improvement communities? I look forward to watching your film project's progress!

  3. I'll check out Glitner, thanks. And, we're working to connect with the communities you mentioned, yes.

    Along those lines, we're actually starting another feature on the site called Sunny Side Up, where we'll be interviewing influencers, writers, speakers, self-discovery practitioners, and others on a monthly basis. Relating to themes in our movie, we'll post clips on our Youtube channel - tied back to our website and FB pages - of interviewees speaking to topics of destiny, self-discovery, how we all run away from ourselves, and more. We'll post the first one April 21st - an interview with four psychics on their thoughts on Destiny. Fun stuff!