Intro to Community Management: What, How, & Why
Recently you may have noticed a number of job listings for ‘community managers’ popping up on social media, job websites, and even heard people in your digital marketing circles are talking about them.
So what exactly is community management?
We often use the term ‘community management’ interchangeably with ‘social media management,’ but there are differences between the two in their meanings. Moving from brand managers to community managers and beyond, let’s talk about the new focus on community management, how it works and how you can benefit.
Social Community Building: Buzzword or a Successor to Brand Management?
Maybe 30 years or so back, a new job role came to light called ‘brand management.’ The job of the brand manager was to manage the reputation of the brand of their company; to keep it safe from defamation, negative marketing, and propaganda.
The usual way to tackle these scenarios was through counter-marketing, issuing notices for defamation, countering negative marketing with CSR activities, and tackling propaganda by selling the brand’s uniqueness.
At that time, digital media was at least a few years away. By the time an issue made the papers or another physical medium, it was late in the game and difficult to combat. Therefore, the job of the brand manager was far more reactive and often limited to major problems rather than seemingly small negative reviews or other negative feedback that we often see today.
Today, people are active on social media for hours every day (some more than others). A single negative piece of feedback from someone on one of your brand’s pages can damage your brand’s reputation, and negative feedback can pop up at any time. There are even groups that consistently check the ratings of various brands such as SWOT guides (just search the word on Facebook, and you will get a ton of groups). A single post against a brand can wreak havoc.
As a result, brands have become more cautious in their marketing tactics. They are consistently taking proactive measures to create a positive image around their brand by offering discounts, sending goodies, solving customer complaints on time, and generally going above and beyond to make their customers happy.
With that in mind, the traditional concept of a brand manager isn’t setup to take on all of this alone. People speak constantly about brands on social media – the new medium for ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing. So, brands need people who are active on social media platforms and ready to help the brand’s customers and provide solutions to avoid crises.
This goes beyond the responsibilities of social media managers because the people dealing with these things aren’t just managing social pages for brand. This dive into communities, helping customers along the way, and delivering the voice of their brands to the general public.
This modern day role is a mix of the brand manager and the social media manager, and the people in these types of roles go by the titles ‘Community managers / Community builders / Community marketers.’
Why is community management so important these days?
Just to reiterate, community managers are the successors of brand managers. Due to the heavy lift required of them, they need to move faster, be reliable and trustworthy, have a single voice, and work hard to promote their brands across multiple platforms. This can include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, forums, blogs, websites, deal platforms, and even on the ground at trade shows, events and other places.
In summary, community managers are the face of the brand in the digital age.
Now the big question: Why do you need them? There have been many instances where poor social media management led to losses in millions for brands. One such example is: United Breaks Guitar.
Remember the notorious United Airlines? In case you answered ‘no’, let’s do a quick recap. A singer was traveling on United Airlines, and the airline baggage handler broke his guitar. Instead of apologizing and replacing the guitar, United decided to ignore his complaint. The singer understood the power of social media, so he decided to create a video ‘United Breaks Guitar.’
The video was an instant hit (unfortunately for United Airlines) and earned over a million views in less than a week. The viewers came to that singer’s support. United Airlines had no choice but to issue an apology, but it was too late. The damage had already been done.
This incident is a perfect example of why it’s so important to stay on top of your customer’s complaints and any problems going on. You never know which ones could explode and become out of your control.
Examples of Good Community Management
There are a lot of examples like the one we just highlighted with United, but fortunately there are also many examples of positive ways brands manage their digital communities. Here are just a few.
Have you heard the story of ‘Wendy’s Nugget Boy Breaks Retweet Record.’ As the story goes, a boy asked Wendy’s social media handle how many retweets he would need for a free year of nuggets. And, Wendy’s witty social media team replied with an unbelievable number. But what was unexpected was the reply from the initiator. Read the discussion below.
The “Nugget Boy”, as Carter Wilkerson is now known, didn’t just beat the record for most retweeted comment but also won a free year of nuggets. Wendy’s generated a lot of brand exposure, and all of it was positive.
Some people just can’t handle love. One such person tried to make fun of a person who was proposing his girlfriend in a KFC restaurant in South Africa. Long story short, the move ended up back firing, and love won in the end.
KFC responded to the negative post from the company’s South Africa account, and the South African business community rallied behind KFC and the couple. Businesses united to throw a lavish wedding party for the love birds.
How to Manage Your Community Efficiently?
Community management is frought of challenges and comprised of both ups and downs. There are hits and misses, and a good community managers has to be prepared for anything. Often, community managers become the victims of internet trolls. In these scenarios, they have to stay composed and avoid showing any emotional reactions on social media or other platforms.
So, how do you deal with all of these challenges as a community manager? Here are some tips that can set you up for success and position you to more effectively deal with the ups and downs and kill your haters with kindness.
Listen to People
Learn what people are talking about by diving deep into conversations. Stay vigilant and know when to interfere in a discussion and when to stay quiet.
Don’t just promote interesting content (that’s definitely part of it) but seek every opportunity to genuinely try to help other people. Your job is to provide answers and offer solutions to keep your community happy.
Apologize When Needed
Customers get offended pretty fast if they don’t get their desired service. Apologies from representatives of the company can go a long way in turning these angry customers into long-lasting ones.
Drive them to your site
There are times when potential customers are looking for good solutions to problems. Community managers can play a crucial role in driving them to the right products on their brand’s website. As for the website itself, you have to make sure that you’ve got good technical support to maintain and host your website.
Assist in crisis management
Many a times the cases that gain traction and virality will not be addressed immediately unless you have a person designated for keeping an eye out for cases that are bound to get negative word of mouth. Industries consisting of services such as ride hailing, food delivery businesses and similar other services need to be on top of their game at all times to ensure and address unhappy customers that can potentially tarnish the brand image with one bad experience.
Tools for Community Management
Here is a list of tools that community managers would find essential to perform their duties well:
A premium tool that community managers can use to find every mention of their brand, relevant keywords, and profiles on social media, websites, and blogs.
A free tool that finds mention of the brand on social media websites.
A free tool that tells about the strength of various social media pages, YouTube channels, and websites.
A premium tool that finds brand mentions on social media and search engines.
Community management is becoming an essential part of the digital industry. Just like SEO, social media managers, community managers will soon become an organ of the digital marketing landscape. Businesses need to reconsider their marketing strategies if they haven’t incorporated community management. To be on top of the pool, you need to be able to reach out to both your targeted and potential audiences and there’s no better and easier way than reaching out to them online.
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