6 Steps to a Successful Community Management Strategy
Being a great community manager is more than simply dealing with customer complaints and responding to customers with templated responses. Being a community manager is about creating engagement, responding to the fans of your pages in a friendly and timely manner and creating communities around your brand. To that end, here are six ways to help you successfully manage and grow your online community.
This is the first and most important rule of community management. Above all, be friendly and be honest. Both are qualities that will be greatly appreciated by your audience. Layer your brand’s unique personality on top of that, and it’s an excellent first step.
More than just friendliness, though, it’s important that you keep your audience engaged.
The good news is, that’s easy to do. Whether you’re posting regular polls on your brand’s Instagram Story or asking follower questions on Facebook, you just need to keep giving your audiences chances to engage with your brand.
Throwing in the occasional competition or follower deal or giveaway won’t hurt, either!
An important part of community management is being a thought leader and an oracle of sorts. Your community will look to you for answers and you’ll need to be able to provide them for your community!
Not only do you have to keep your finger on the pulse of the needs, wants and questions of your community, but also the broader industry as a whole. The first step to doing this is to sign up to industry newsletters and participate in LinkedIn groups. The second step is to use tools to make it easier to stay on top of industry updates.
Keep abreast of what your competitors are doing by using private Twitter lists and regularly checking what they’re posting. You can also set up Google Alerts for any keywords that are particularly relevant to your industry or use listening software like Mention or Synthesio to monitor key alerts.
Amassing this kind of broader information will ensure you can add value for your followers.
How can social media listening add value to your brand?
Great community management requires an ‘always-on’ approach. Not only do you have to be present, but you have to be engaged.
No one can be online 24/7 responding to the needs of their brand community, so grid your time to ensure you’re online when your community is most active. Often you can preempt this – for example – if you’re launching a new product or releasing tickets to an event, ensure you’re online for this to be able to quickly respond to consumer questions.
TIP: During holidays and out of office hours, set an automated response that will be sent to anyone who contacts your page. This ensures your customers feel like they’re being heard. You can often set these messages to go straight to your inbox so you’re on top of who you need to reply to when you get back to the office.
Streamline the Process
If you’re looking for ways to make the community management process easier, invest in scheduling and community management tools to automate the process.
Here are some of our favourites:
Not only can you schedule posts ahead of time, but tools like Sprout Social allow you to respond to your Facebook and Instagram comments from within the platform, streamlining the amplification and management process.
Have an Escalation Process for Managing Negative Comments
Negative comments are always going to pop up from time to time, so while you can’t avoid them, you can implement an escalation process to better manage them and avoid surprises.
Here are a few quick tips to ensure negative comments don’t spiral out of control:
- Set your profanity filter on Facebook to automatically hide comments that contain offensive language
- Stay on top of Facebook’s guidelines and know when it’s appropriate to hide a comment or ban a user from your page. Remember that you can’t just ban users for posting complaints about your brand. If a user does post a complaint, always try to resolve it offline. Only if they use offensive language or troll you do you have grounds to ban them from your page.
The key to managing negative comments is to keep on top of them before they blow out. Ensure you’re regularly checking the comments on your page, particularly around new product launches and other events that could attract extra attention.
Tip: Map our your escalation process and circulate it throughout your business so everyone is aware of the procedure! Image source: Digital Marketer
Foster a community
In the end, community management is all about creating a community!
The key to social media is to be social. Share user-generated-content, respond to all reviews and testimonials and use Instagram to cultivate one-on-one conversations with your followers.
If fostered correctly, people will build a network around their shared love of your brand, and that’s when you know you’ve got a real community.