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How community management is not the same as media buying

It hasn’t been that long since men sat behind oak desks discussing strap-lines with hand-written copy. Yet, here we are deeply immersed in a digital world where everything in advertising has changed, including channels, strategies and job descriptions.

It’s no wonder lines are blurring and we’re getting confused. But competition is tough and businesses can’t afford to lose sight of their goals through a haze of complicated terminology.

So let’s discuss the roles of community manager and media buyer. Many people think this is the same role with two different names. While there is certainly a degree of overlap between these functions, there is also a disparity and it’s good for businesses to know the difference in order to use the two with maximum efficacy.

So, huddle up so we can take a closer look.

Community management

A Community Manager grows a business through direct online audience engagement.

The role is designed to change an existing community by creating a fluidity of interactions and communication between the brand and the audience that the brand “speaks” to. It involves getting attention through conversations that engage a much larger audience, not only with the brand but also with each other that are always centred round an element of the business.

With lots of people talking, a Community Manager can gain valuable insights and feedback that helps to increase marketing efforts through social media. While it may sound like their job is just hanging out on Facebook and Twitter all day, a good Community Manager is networking offline, guiding conversations online, pinpointing brand advocates within communities and retaining customers. Done well, these efforts ultimately increase conversion rates leading to the golden result of an increase in sales.

Media buying

However, there is no use talking if no one is there to listen.

Enter the Media Buyer.

While a Community Manager is a great conversationalist, a Media Buyer is a brilliant negotiator. Both must be excellent strategists. A Media Buyer will research the best advertising opportunities through all mediums by having a clearly defined target market. In a marketing context this means finding ways and looking for opportunities to draw in certain community demographics that are not currently engaging either with the brand or with the existing community. This is referred to as “driving early adoption”. This could be through radio, print magazines, newspapers, outdoor billboards, events, television and online.

That’s certainly not to say a business can or would use all of these. A smart Media Buyer knows exactly where the attention of his audience is and will negotiate the right placement with the best position and rate based on industry research and distribution figures. Moreover, if an audience doesn’t respond to a campaign as well as a company hoped they would, a Media Buyer must be able to quickly analyse data and adjust media schedules to reach the right audience numbers.

So in summary, both roles involve good communication skills. A Media Buyer is finding the perfect audience through just the right channels thereby introducing them to the brand itself, while a Community Manager is there to ensure that when an audience gathers, they are engaged, informed, entertained and ultimately made to feel welcome into the community of the brand.

Three campaigns that went viral with one key ingredient

Why do some brands win at social media while others fall flat? It would be unfair to say that it boils down to effort. In most cases a lot of consistent effort goes into social media marketing with good returns over a period of time.

In rare cases, a company’s social media campaign connects like a plug in a socket and the brand lights up like a beacon. If your brand wants to be the shining light in a sea of social media, then watch and learn from these three companies that got it right.

  1. Why is it that we feel compelled to prove ourselves if someone says those three fateful words “I dare you”? Imagine if you could reach hundreds of millions of people and not only create awareness, but get people to actively participate in your cause, with a challenge that seems like it was thought up by your older brother as entertainment over a long summer holiday.

The ALS Association did exactly that with The ALS ice-bucket challenge in 2015. 440 million people watched and participated in videos of people having icy water thrown over their heads. The campaign didn’t cost a cent, yet it brought in over $220 million for the foundation.

  1. truth is an anti-smoking non-profit organisation aimed at stopping teen smoking. Their most successful campaign didn’t use judgement, discrimination, shame or scare tactics. Instead, they subtly appealed to teens through other people’s perceptions of them.

Partnering with a handful of Youtube celebrities with a combined following of over 3 million subscribers, they wrote a song titled “Left Swipe Dat”. The video and song reiterated a previously proven fact that Tinder users are less likely to swipe right on someone who is smoking in their profile pictures. #LeftSwipeDat became a top trending topic for a great cause.

The combination of music, hashtagging and YouTube celebs made this campaign a far greater success than any stern warning by a doctor in a white coat next to a cancerous pair of lungs.

  1. Dove created one of the most talked about social experiments last year when they got a forensic artist to draw women as they described themselves without having seen them. The artist then drew another portrait based on how they were described by a stranger. The campaign videos which formed part of a larger campaign called Real Beauty Sketches were viewed over 14 million times.

The vast differences between the two portraits got millions of people talking about our warped perceptions of our own physical attributes and how we think we are viewed by others. The campaign drew a lot of positive, as well as its fair share of negative attention which just fuelled the discussion and increased its popularity.
These three brands are all entirely different, yet their biggest common denominator and baseline of their success was tapping into human emotion. Getting people to feel something regarding a brand or a cause is a sure-fire way to get them talking, and talking is how word spreads and campaigns become viral.


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