Are Community Managers Becoming Obsolete?


Social media is now firmly rooted in the PR/marketing worlds of a majority of businesses. With that, the roles are beginning to evolve. The hard sell approach that the old-time social media consultants (By old time, I mean 2006-2009) used to get people on Facebook and Twitter is no longer relevant. Most people know they need to be on social media sites. Now, it’s about figuring out exactly what they need to be doing to develop their company’s brand online.

For a lot of companies, that means hiring a “community manager” internally or perhaps externally to manage the overall social media strategy and execution. A community manager is a catchy job title right now, but in reality it’s a very new job title. The job descriptions and salary range for community managers vary drastically.

As social media begins to enter the “awkward teenage years,” it will be interesting to see how the roles of community managers change with the times. Personally, I think the role will shift more heavily into the content curation side.

I recently read two blog posts that dealt with this topic. One is from Stephanie Schwab, over at Social Media Explorer, and the other is from Adam Vincenzini at his blog, The Comms Corner. While the posts approach it from different angles, Schwab and Vincenzini both sum it up by saying the future lies in content curation and counseling.

These two smarties have a great point. Content curators or counselors could be a more prominent job title in the coming years. These content curators would ideally serve as the front-line community managers for the brand as well as being the curators of valuable industry news, both internally and externally.

With the lifespan of a tweet being a matter of hours and a Facebook status update being less than a day, it can be hard to break through all the noise.

So, how do you break through all the marketing clutter?

The secret could very well lie in spreading valuable content that goes beyond your company’s press releases, blog posts and special offers. It’s all about spreading value. That could be stuff written at your company or agency, or it may be curated from around the Web. A content curator’s job would be deciphering valuable content and the “junk.”

What do you think? Do you think content curation will become the next big focus?

About the author

Jessica Malnik


  • Interesting post. My view of this is that there will continue to be community managers, particularly at smaller organizations but that for most organizations, community management will have to become a discipline of general management (i.e. many people within the organization will have to understand it).

    • Great point, Rachel. We are already seeing this. The most effective community management, especially in larger organization, comes from a team. You need several people to be on board and fully embrace the company social media strategy if you really want it to be effective.

  • Hey Jessica,
    Content that transcends product is great. I still feel that attention to community matters. It may be that content & community strategy will go hand in hand. To me, Adam’s “8 Traits of a Good Content Counselor” apply just as equally to community managers.

    Thanks for this thoughtful post.


    • Thanks, Judi. Community managers in general need to find that right balance between content curation, strategy and community engagement. It may be very challenging, but once you have all three straightened out, you are golden.

  • I think one key thing that is missing from this post is ‘Engagement’. Curating content is invaluable but can also be an impossible time suck dependent upon the scale of the community you are managing. This post aligns with a lot of the hot topics in community management and social media right now and I believe there is a ton of value in content curation as well as data mining that content for trends. I’ve found that showing people that you’ve found the needle in the haystack can be very rewarding and then showing your community that THEY can find the needle in the haystack is even more beneficial.

    • Great point, Luke. The mark of a great community manager is someone, who empowers their community to take action, or to find that needle in the haystack.

  • In the best cases, community managers step up from the ranks of the community and assume the role based on their commitment – official stake or not – along with their expertise. Outsourced community manager don’t work all that well unless an adequate long term investment is made by the individual and the sponsor. I think the role will evolve but it’s not new. Forums have been around a loooong time, and we should look to established communities to learn about successful “movements” with social media added to the mix.

    • You bring up a great point. The idea of a community manager isn’t that new. It’s just the tools, i.e. Facebook fan pages and Twitter that are newer. Back in the 1990s, you had forums, Geocities, and AOL Chatrooms. All of which had their own “niche communities,” that may or may not have managed.