It's no secret that the Internet is changing the way customers and prospects learn about, interact with and buy from companies. These changes are so profound that corporate executives must constantly rethink the roles of their sales and marketing teams and ensure their firms are represented in all the right places. Social media gives midsized companies the potential to maintain an outsized presence in their market and drive new and repeat business at low cost. Therefore, firms might decide to hire a community manager (CM) rather than have existing marketing employees handle all social media duties.

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The primary goal of social media is to drive more traffic to a company's website, thus building awareness and boosting qualified leads. Companies should coordinate their social media posts' timing and content across all channels for maximum effect. While you can have a marketing employee partner with different internal departments to find quality content and craft a message tailored for each social media channel, a CM would take the baton from there to make the firm's total social presence as robust and effective as possible.

What a Community Manager Does

To better describe why a CM is necessary in midmarket companies, here are a few of the role's primary responsibilities:

  • Monitor outside responses to every social media channel and further the conversation by responding to questions, compliments or criticism. To develop long-term trust and affinity among your followers, the CM should display a distinct personality in these interactions that, while consistent with your firm's brand voice, humanizes the person to the social community and thus promotes ongoing conversation.
  • Develop a continuing presence in outside and industry-related forums where followers share the company's social content. By doing this, the CM can monitor trends and issues among customers and prospects, and add relevant and useful commentary to a wider marketplace segment. Instead of creating original content for the firm's social media channels, the CM discovers topics and issues elsewhere. A marketing employee can then take those concepts back to individual departments and let employees create new content that fits the broader social media strategy.
  • Follow and develop relationships with bloggers who cover the firm's market. The company can leverage industry influencers' reputations for the company's benefit. When done right, these relationships result in company mentions and interviews with employees or executives. Even offline, the CM can strengthen relationships with social followers and foster new online connections with customers and prospects. Consider sending your CM to in-person events, including industry conferences and informal meetups.
  • Monitor competitors' social media channels not only for the type of content that's being posted, but also for the quantity and quality of interactions between the rival brand and its social followers. A midsized company that regularly benchmarks its social media presence against its competitors can adapt quickly and make an impression. Followers don't always know what they want from their user experience until you provide it.

Bottom-Line Benefits

When it comes to a CM's duties, the common denominator is that each responsibility is something that a marketing employee, who has other jobs to fulfill, would not have time to handle in a midsized company. The CM doesn't just gather intelligence that helps improve the firm's social media content; he or she extends conversations and builds awareness, trust and affinity among customers and prospects across the entire online spectrum. The CM does this in a way that increases traffic to the website, increases inbound leads and boosts the conversion rate. From a return-on-investment perspective, a social media CM just might be a very worthwhile expenditure for a midsized company.

Do you have a community manager at your midmarket firm? Why or why not? Let us know by commenting below.

Rob Carey is an NCMM contributor and a features writer who has focused on the business-to-business niche since 1992. He spent his first 15 years at Nielsen Business Media, rising from editorial intern to editorial director. Since then, he has been the principal of New York-based Meetings & Hospitality Insight, working with large hospitality brands in addition to various media outlets.