Over the past few years, people in the digital world have felt increasingly more disconnected with each other online. This has been despite the fact that many of the tools and platforms that they take advantage of are designed to connect people as easily as possible.
However, this doesn’t just affect personal relationships. Instead, it’s becoming increasingly true for businesses and their customers, with this being seen in a variety of ways. This has meant that many brands have seen decreased engagement across the online channels for a significant amount of time.
While there have been several strategies that have helped curb this, few have been successful at halting it outright and potentially reversing it. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few ways that companies can do so. Quite the opposite, there are a few specific ways that firms can stop this disconnect growing between them and their online customers.
One of the more prominent of these in recent years has been community management. Despite its increasing popularity, there’s quite a large number of firms that might not know what this is. As a result, they might not know how the strategy can help their business.
While many people may believe that this is a relatively young trend that will dissipate quite quickly, it doesn’t appear to be the case. In contrast, it looks as though community management is here to stay. While it may change and evolve over time, it’s an area that looks to continue having a large impact on many brands.
As such, it’s something that the majority of companies will have to become aware of and start placing a significant amount of emphasis on. There are a few notable things that all business owners and marketing professionals will need to know about community management.
What Is Community Management?
The first thing that many business leaders and marketing professionals may wonder is what community management is. As the name would suggest, this is the process of creating an authentic community that’s comprised of a company’s customers, partners, and employees. This will be done through various types of interactions.
Typically, this can be described as how a brand uses interactions with people online and in person to create a network. This network will then be used to connect with customers, share deals and content, and grow as a firm.
There are a few notable reasons why many business owners should use community management. These are focused across quite a wide variety of areas, which means that it can be beneficial in many ways. Some of the more notable of these are:
- Get real feedback from customers about how products and services can be improved;
- Support audience members, customers, and fans when they need it;
- Increase product and brand awareness among key demographics;
- Identify what customers want and need from your product and services;
- Build high-quality relationships with customers;
- Provide value to customers, and;
- Boost interactions, conversions, and overall sales.
With all of the benefits that community management can offer a company, the majority may want to take advantage of it. However, there are a variety of things that every business leader will need to know before focusing on the niche. By doing so, they’ll be able to ensure that they’re in the best position possible to take advantage of it.
Types Of Community Management
Many people might think that there’s one type of community management. However, this isn’t the case, as there is quite a broad range of them. While there’s quite a significant number of them to choose from, there are a few in particular that have been quite common. These are:
- Customer Support/Success: This may be one of the more obvious forms of customer support, although it could be vital. There are a few ways that this can be taken advantage of, such as a community website, forum, FAQ page, and more.
- Product Ideation, Innovation, & Feedback: These steps are all either proactive or reactive to market demands. To take advantage of these, companies will need to create a space where they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts on a product. This will then allow for improvements, among other things.
- Acquisition & Advocacy: This form of community management allows firms to speak directly with the people who are buying their products. These community members then help to spread brand awareness through affiliate programs, word of mouth marketing, and much more.
- External Engagement: This approach provides a business’ customers with a sense of belonging that leads to a stronger relationship between brand and buyer. One of the more notable ways that this is done is through social media marketing.
Each of the above types of community management will need different approaches. As such, any potential community manager will need to be familiar with them. There are a few important reasons why this should be the case. One of the more notable is that they can each offer various degrees of success for different situations.
Coupled with this is the fact that some will be much more appropriate in certain circumstances instead of others. As such, having an in-depth understanding of each is highly recommended.
Community Management Strategies
As many people may be able to tell, there’s quite a large number of ways to take advantage of community management. However, this could lead to some people wondering what kind of strategies they’ll be able to take advantage of.
While this can vary from company to company, and even community to community, there are a few steps that every firm can take to develop a community management strategy. These include:
- Identify The Audience: Every firm will need to identify its key demographics. Following this, they’ll then be able to make a variety of observations and go through research to make their next moves.
- Choose A Social Media Platform: Communities are normally based on the one social media platform. As such, a community manager will need to choose one to focus on.
- Speak To The Audience: The easiest way to find out what an audience wants is to ask them. As such, this is highly recommended, as a firm will then be able to create content based around this.
- Determine How To Measure Success & Set Goals: Knowing how success will be measured can be vital. This can be focused on new follows, engagements, and much more. However, every firm will need to have goals to work toward.
- Post Regularly & Engage With An Audience: This can be the most vital aspect involved in the process. As such, it shouldn’t be overlooked.
- Analyze Results: Once a campaign has been completed, it’s time to measure the results and adjust accordingly.
By utilizing each of the above, the majority of firms will be able to create a strong and engaged community. It should be noted, however, that this could take a significant amount of time.
Community Management Best Practices
Though community management has only been around for a short period, it’s existed for long enough that a variety of best practices have become self-evident. As such, they’re areas that all community managers will need to follow to achieve success with their campaign.
The most prominent of these are:
- Have community rules and guidelines, and enforce them;
- Check the community constantly;
- Be authentic;
- Listen to the community;
- Maintain the brand’s voice at all times, and;
- Look for new ways to explore the community.
By following each of the above, a community manager will be able to grow their audience significantly over time. Though this will be a long-term approach, it could reap dividends.
Tips For Community Managers
With how much of an impact community management can have for a company, it can be vital for it to put a significant amount of emphasis into it. However, quite a large number of first-time community managers may not know where to start. Much of this is because it could prove to be somewhat of an overwhelming area.
Despite this, there are a variety of things to keep in mind. By focusing on a few tips and tricks, the majority of community managers should see that they’ll be able to build a high-quality community. Some of the more notable tips include:
- Invite Personal Contacts: Many people may believe that inviting their personal contacts to an online community may be a bad thing. However, this could prove to be an effective way to get the ball rolling on a community, especially in its early days.
- Communicate: Like any other marketing campaign, communication is vital to building a community. Managers shouldn’t need to break the bank promoting the community. Instead, regular communication with people who are already a part of it can be just as effective, if not more so.
- Develop Mutual Partnerships: When a community is first growing, it’s unlikely that many people will see it. However, there are ways to overcome this, with one of the more notable to make mutually-beneficial partnerships with appropriate influencers and individuals. This will expose your community to a broader group of people and help it expand.
- Be Responsive To A Member’s Needs: In the initial stages of a community management campaign, the managers will need to be quite active. This will be focused on quite a broad range of areas, with promoting the community being just one. However, they must also be responsive to a member’s needs. Once there’s been success in bringing people in, it’s time to start nurturing them. This should be focused on thanking them for joining the community and speaking with them. In short, community managers will need to form authentic connections.
By using each of the above tips and tricks, every community manager should be off to a great start. While growing a community can often differ slightly from one niche to another, all of these tips should prove to be effective. This could mean that they’ll be invaluable to future success.
Though community management may seem as though it’s complicated, it can be relatively easy to get a grasp of. While this will take a significant amount of time, preparation and research can often pay off rewards. Alongside this will be continually learning and adapting. By keeping all of the above in mind, community managers should be able to roll out and capitalize on a high-quality strategy.
Thanks for reading "A Beginners Guide to Community Management in Social Media", by the Linchpin Team in Chicago, Raleigh, and Wake Forest.