One of my coworkers read my post yesterday and, stopping me in the hall said “But isn’t your job (Product Management) basically the same as a community manager?”
I’m just going to cut straight to the chase with this one and say it… No, Product Management is not the same as Community Management (unless the community is your product I suppose).
Although there are overlaps.
For instance, if your organization has a product management team, but no community team, then your product managers need to take on the role of advocating the customers voice within the dev process; and making sure the development cycle works FOR the customer (and not for the MACHINE!). I also produce my fair share of content and wrote for the company blog and newsletter (both of which are currently defunct unfortunately).
And while this is all important, and the product managers should always consider the end user as one of the most important share holders during their research cycle, they will never (or should never anyway) have the amount of time needed to really engage, foster and build a community.
Enter the Community Manager.
The Community Manager has the enviable job of, if not defining then at least executing your companies overall outreach strategy. Think: Advocate, Evangelist, Promoter, Conversationalist, Schmoozer, Moderator, Networker, Coordinator and so much more.
Of course there’s tracking and reporting, analyzing and metrics, worrying about ROI (which can be more difficult for the Community Manager), producing multi-channel content, staying up to date with the latest online social tools, ferreting out hidden communities and working varied hours (unless of course you can convince your community to stick to YOUR 9-5 schedule!)
So yes, there are similarities, but no, a community manager is not a product manager.