Community Management: What is it; Why it matters and How to do it Well!

Overview:

At its core, Community Management is about building relationships and solidifying your brand story. It is the PR side of social media marketing and offers your customers a sense of belonging– which in turn boosts your ROI.

Social Media Marketing v. Community Management:

Just as PR and Marketing are ‘same same but different’ so too are Social Media Marketing and Community Management. Yes, both exist online. Yes, both serve as a way to connect with your customers. But while marketing is focused on driving sales, community management is about driving the story and building brand loyalty.

The Purpose Behind Community Management:

In a nutshell, Community Management–

  • Manages customer complaints
  • Turns customers into loyal fans
  • Helps to win over influencers and prospective customers
  • Connects with other brands for potential partnerships
  • Collects, raw, qualitative feedback
  • Builds the brand voice and personality

Community Management Best Practices:

  • Ignore trolls; and avoid conversations you can’t end.
  • Keep your brand’s personality consistent; but adapt your conversation-style based on the channel– Don’t be afraid to have a sense of humor.*
  • Encourage UGC through branded hashtags and personalized engagement.
  • Be proactive about engaging with your community, not just reactive. Incorporate a CTA in your messaging that encourages your fans to respond, tag, re-post or vote.

*Best with positive feedback. Negative feedback should always be met with professional language and an escalation plan.

Proactive Community Engagement:

Being proactive in your community engagement helps establish the ‘know, like, trust’ principle and allows your customers to see your brand’s personality outside of responding to feedback. This is essential to creating a community– and thus building your brand and loyal fan base.

The goal is to have your community think of you as a part of their lives– not just a product they consume.

Reactive Community Management:

The reactive side of Community Management happens two ways. The first is general positive feedback from your customers. They will call you out and say how much they love your product. This should be met with equal enthusiasm and include your brand voice.

Second, is general negative feedback. As mentioned above, negative feedback should always be met with professionalism and class, regardless of how the customer has contacted you. Responding to negative feedback should generally follow this template: Personalize Acknowledge­– Empathize– Find Solutions.

      Personalize: Use the customer’s name is readily apparent eg Hi Jane, thanks for reaching out.

      Acknowledge: Let them know you read their statement e.g we are sorry you are having this issue.

      Empathize: People want to feel heard and understood e.g We understand this is frustrating and want to find a solution for you.

      Find Solutions: Now, you actually have to find the solution. e.g We’re going to reach out to our customer service team and see what we can do; OR We’d be happy to send you a replacement.

Moderating Negative Feedback:

An important facet of Community Management is moderating your social feeds for complaints and disgruntled customers– obviously we want our brands to look as good as possible. But negative feedback is going to happen– here’s how to handle negative feedback.

  •      What you should hide/ delete:
    • Derogatory; inflammatory or otherwise harmful comments that target a specific group and seek to insight hate.
    • Individuals who are only seeking an argument and are not actually looking for a solution (Trolls)
    • Promotional posts or other posts that might confuse your community.
  •      What you should not hide/delete:
    • Customers complaining about the product or service
    • Customers who are unhappy with your brand

But, Why?

  • How you handle negative feedback is just as big a part of your brand as how you handle positive feedback.
  • It gives you a chance to show that you are reasonable; willing to help and that you stand by your product.

Customer complaints are unavoidable, especially on social media. People vent online because its quick and easy.  Try to answer simple questions and concerns in a public format so that other customers can see. If the concern requires more attention, ask that the customer send you a private message to discuss further.

Even if you can’t solve a customer’s problem, show them that you’re listening. It’s a bad look for a brand to ignore customer complaints.

Final Thoughts:

Today, where everything is available with the click of a mouse, it is imperative that brands have something that sets them apart from their competitors. That factor is a strong community management plan. By building brand loyalty, your customers are more likely to shop with you, even if your prices are higher than ‘the big box stores’ because they believe in your brand. Creating a community that believes in your product will increase brand awareness and further your reach to potential customers.