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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.

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