Are you a business owner? In an increasingly digital world, your online presence is critical. It’s not just about search engine optimization, web design or Google My Business, though. The community you create through social media is one of the most valuable tools you can develop.
Managing that community is the key to leveraging it. With the right community management strategy, you can build your reputation and lasting relationships. Community management matters for your business. So it pays to know about it.
What Is Community Management?
Community management is the process of building and maintaining a community. It can involve in-person communities. Most of the time, however, it refers to online communities across social media platforms.
Everyone who interacts with your business online is part of that community, including:
- Someone who likes a Facebook post your company made.
- A person who leaves a Google review, whether it was favorable or not.
- Anyone who responds to a Tweet your company sent.
- The people who read and comment on articles posted on your business’s blog.
An online community is about sharing content, opinions, advice and more.
What Can Community Management Do For You?
Community management provides you with essential opportunities to shape your business’s future. That might sound like an exaggeration. A single online interaction is indeed unlikely to make or break your business. However, the sum of the online interactions your brand is part of can have far-reaching effects.
When customers want to provide feedback on their experience with your company, they turn to the internet. Sometimes, that feedback is favorable. Other times, it’s not. Either way, being aware of and responding to that feedback is critical.
When someone is considering your product or service, they tend to turn to online reviews. You can take advantage of that.
You don’t need a perfect five-star rating to attract customers. Some reviewers reserve five-star ratings for genuinely exceptional, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Others use five-star ratings to indicate a service was anything from acceptable to extraordinary. Potential customers know that. They will understand.
When you receive positive reviews, respond to them. Saying thank you is the polite thing to do and can help engage with the individual who left the review. However, the benefits extend far beyond that.
Your response should include the following for SEO purposes:
- The name of your business.
- The city in which your business is located. You can also include the street name if you have multiple locations.
- The category under which your business falls, whether that’s hospitality, event planning or accounting.
Finally, every response to a positive review should include a call-to-action. Usually, this will be something like, “stop by again soon!” Vary your call to action between responses. You want to seem authentic, not like you’re copying and pasting your response.
If you receive a negative review — every business will at some point, whether it’s warranted or not — don’t delete it.
If the angry customer notices, they might leave another review pointing that out. You will look bad. Instead, respond to it. Thank the reviewer for the input. Let them know that you would be willing to discuss the matter further.
Providing support is an essential method of community management and engagement.
Consider setting up a discussion forum, particularly if your product or service is complicated. Software companies often do so because it allows customers to support one another. A forum also gives you a centralized location for support documents and frequently asked questions.
The downside of discussion forums is that they require moderation. Too many rude or unhelpful responses will negatively influence your business’s reputation, even if they’re coming from customers.
Instead of a discussion forum, you can also put together a page on your website dedicated to customer support. This page can serve as a central location linking out to support resources. You may also consider investing in a chatbot that will answer common questions. Your team will still need to address more complex issues.
Monitor your social media accounts, too. Some customers will ask questions through Facebook, Twitter or another site.
Take every opportunity you have to offer support to customers. You will build a reputation as a company with excellent customer support, which is invaluable.
Community management has the added benefit of spreading awareness of your business. Think back to every brand that has ever gone viral for being funny. Sometimes, it’s large corporations with astronomical marketing budgets. Other times, it’s a small business that made a good decision when they hired their social media person.
Because the online community is global, your potential reach is limitless. When one person likes a tweet, it might show up in all of their followers’ feeds. If someone comments on one of your Facebook posts, their friends may all see it.
Giving your brand a unique voice and personality humanizes it. Denny’s is an excellent example of awareness through community management.
Like human beings, brands attempting to develop a voice occasionally make mistakes. Sometimes, the errors become international public relations catastrophes. The UK division of Burger King recently learned that lesson.
Thoughtful and well-thought-out community management is critical.
The Difference Between Community Management and Social Media Marketing
Community management sounds similar to social media marketing. They’re related but separate.
Social media marketing involves producing and posting content. Drafting posts and then monitoring how well they do is social media marketing. You’re directly reaching many people with one piece of content.
Community management picks up where social media marketing leaves off. After you post the content, community management is how you interact with the responses to it. You’re directly reaching one person with one piece of content.
Developing Your Community Management Strategy
You likely won’t be starting from scratch when developing your community management strategy. Other people have created a list of best practices through trial and error, which you can take advantage of.
- Sometimes, it’s best to ignore rude or pointless comments. It isn’t worth your time to engage with internet “trolls.”
- Direct people back to your website. There’s only so much information you can provide in a social media post.
- No one is interested in spam. It’s important to advocate for your business, but balance that against providing your community with value.
- Consistency is key. You should maintain the same overall voice throughout your posts. Adjusting based on your audience and platform is sometimes necessary.
- Encourage community engagement. User-generated content is valuable.
How To Get Started
Your first step when planning your community management strategy is to select a platform. The content you produce for LinkedIn will be quite different from content meant for Snapchat.
While you will already have some idea of who your audience is, narrow it down. When you have a clear picture of who your audience is, you’re better able to research the content they like. In addition to analyzing the content they currently engage with, ask them. Sometimes, the content available isn’t what your audience wants. It’s just the best option available to them.
You will also need to decide how you’re going to measure the success of your community management strategy. Will you look at overall engagement with your posts? Web traffic coming from social media sites? You have options.
Set goals for your business. We’re big proponents of SMART goals—goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. However, setting goals that might be a stretch to reach can help drive your business forward.
Now, you’re ready to start posting. Do so consistently to maintain engagement and interest. Creating a posting schedule for yourself can make regular posting easier for you.
What To Look For in a Community Manager
If you’re a small business owner who is just starting out, you’re probably doing your own community management. You might still be taking a DIY approach even if you’ve been in the game for a while.
While engaging with your community is rewarding, community management is a full-time job. If you’re doing it yourself on top of everything else, you’re probably exhausted.
One potential solution is to hire a community manager. If that’s the path you take, look for someone with:
- Excellent written and oral communication skills.
- Extensive experience using a range of social media platforms.
- An understanding of your industry.
- Great customer service skills.
However, not every business has the budget or desire to add another employee. If that’s the situation you’re in, consider working with an external company.
OmniSocial Engine offers social media marketing and community management services. We have a phenomenal team of more than 50 members, all of whom will be at your service. We’re dedicated to creating SEO-friendly content that will help your business grow.
From Facebook and Instagram to LinkedIn, we’re here for you. We will create daily social media posts as well as a weekly 400-word blog post for you. Every month, we’ll provide you with a performance report, too.
If you’re interested, you can schedule a free consultation with the OmniSocial Engine team today. We can’t wait to hear from you.