How Community Management Benefits the Best Brands

The experts of the marketing world have agreed for sometime that social media is important for your brand. However, the combination of that acceptance and changes in social media algorithms (especially on Facebook) has led to stiff competition for attention:

Brands are being completely pushed out of newsfeeds.

The only way to win in this new reality on social media is to actually be social. And this is where community management comes in.

The most effective social media teams are beginning to place less emphasis on mass-broadcasted content in favor of 1:1 communication. That means deemphasizing the importance of Page posts directed to your followers’ newsfeeds (which brands have less and less access to) and giving more attention to customer support, direct responses to comments, closed communities like Facebook Groups, direct connection during live events and other individual engagement strategies.

👆 This is the role of a Community Manager.

In this post, we define what community management means, why it matters, and how your team should be using it to succeed on social.


Definition: What is Community Management?

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Community management is a lot more than just…. managing a community!

In social media marketing, a community manager is someone who advocates for a brand online, who forms meaningful relationships with an audience, and who crafts a tone of voice for the brand. If you hear “community management” you should think: creating opportunities for engagement, building relationships, and earning trust.

A typical community manager job description will include a plethora of roles for the digitally-savvy employee, including things like live-posting for events, social media promotion, real-time content creation, and more.

The community management role is multi-directional, too, in that the community manager is responsible for both inbound and outbound messaging:

  • Inbound duties = Responding to your audience’s incoming posts, comments, messages, and reviews
  • Outbound duties = Going off your ‘turf’ and joining related conversations and communities, building a following for your brand, engaging micro-influencers, and encouraging user-generated content (UGC)

It’s worth mentioning, too, that crisis communication is another major responsibility. Community Managers are the first line of defense when identifying (and snuffing out) potential issues online.

(Check out how to overcome a social media crisis in three days or less for more info!)


Why is Community Management Valuable—and More Important Than Ever Before?

In a world where people are constantly plugged in, community management is an essential part of your company’s brand building and brand sustainability efforts.

Modern brands must connect with their customers on social media platforms. These are the places where contemporary friendships are formed and sustained, and the same goes with relationships between brands and their consumers.

Success means creating loyal customers who feel a deep commitment to your brand… as if you were a friend.

Gone are the days of brands talking AT you. With social media, it is now a two-way conversation that requires fostering, nurturing, and caring. Brands need to be focused on not only tailoring their message to each consumer in a way that will resonate but also on cultivating meaningful relationships that build trust.


Best Practices

Good community management requires a lot! But the following points are perhaps most critical:

Keep your eyes and ears open

The best community managers listen first, then listen some more. They're able to quickly draw and communicate key insights back to the client, and they're great at crawling 'the web' for relevant goings-on. They can set up Google Alerts in their sleep, and they're adept at building lists - whether they're filled with hashtags or influencers. They're the eyes and ears for every customer-turned-reporter who checks in or shares a review (speaking of, they can easily spot story potential from simple interactions). Once a community manager finds those little nuggets of opportunity, they quickly process, respond and route to the right people - whether that's for a customer service response or an industry trend to jump on.

Provide valuable, relevant information

Rather than pushing your own agenda, community managers must provide content (and spark conversation) that benefits the audience. A good community manager rejects anything that doesn’t pass the “is this valuable to our audience?” test.

Understand who your audience is

If you want someone to find value in your content, you have to understand what they care about. Take time to do some research on who your target community member is, what their problems are, and how you can help. This can be accomplished using data and analytics as well as by interviewing your customers or even performing fly-on-the-wall observations. A great community manager recognizes they are part of the story - the guide, not the hero.

Engage in others' content

Relationships are a two-way conversation. You can't expect others to engage with you if you aren't engaging back. This means joining in on related conversations and communities, tracking your brand and hashtag mentions, and constantly searching out ways to surprise your customers with thoughtful and meaningful responses to their posts. (This is also one way to indirectly encourage ‘engaged non-followers’ to follow the official brand page!)

Write and send rapid, thoughtful responses

In order to build a strong online community, it’s crucial to post responses to comments, questions, and concerns shared on the brand’s page. And canned responses really have no place here. Hitting “like” or replying with “thanks” when someone comments on your post is usually better than no response at all, but the best community managers take this a step further by encouraging deeper, more meaningful conversations whenever possible.


What Does Good Community Management Look Like?

We have both observed and participated in amazing community management successes.

For example, we recently surrounded an industry event that a client was attending. We created a social media framework to make the most of the event before, during and after - complete with daily blog recaps, live tweeting, and monitoring and responding across all social media platforms. (This case study is coming soon! Sing up to receive the PDF here.)

We also recently observed some great community management from the consumer side. Check out this perfect comment from the Hotel Covington Instagram account for a great example of how your brand could start reaching out on IG:

 
 

Another recent example comes from March First Brewing. No mention of the brand in the post, but their location was tagged. Someone is clearly monitoring for opportunities to engage:

 
 

Does Community Management Make Sense For Your Brand?

In almost every case, we think the answer is a definite “Yes!”  Whether it's 8 hours per month, or a full-on command center, it pays to have someone at the helm who can navigate the unscripted world of social media.

But what do you think? Would a thriving community create the ROI your marketing team needs? Do you think you could “sell” the idea internally with enough passion and evidence to get the resources you need to be successful?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!