Updated: Jan 25
Developing a solid community management plan will pay-off in the long term for your brand.
Though growing in popularity, community management can sometimes be a little confusing and vague in what it means exactly. A brand may develop a community or one may amass independently, but the intentional cultivation of that community is what is meant by community management.
Most community management is done online. The establishment of a successful community can enhance brand awareness, improve your online reputation through positive comments and ratings, promote the creation of user-generated content, and may inspire loyal fans.
A community online is a piece of a comprehensive and effective digital marketing plan and is best utilized in concert with a social media marketing strategy.
What is Community Management?
Community management is the personal interaction between customers, patrons, users, employees, management, shareholders - it's the intentional act of curating the interaction between all of the individuals that make up an organization.
This occurs in all types of ways, and includes response times through email, comments on your site, brand ambassadors, fans, social media channels - any example of interaction between external audience and internal audience would fall into community management.
What is the Purpose of Community Management?
A good community management plan will control the narrative, maintain strong community influence and help to both promote brand awareness and generate a positive brand identity overall.
Community management is a tool to create a good public persona and perpetuate interest.
Community Management vs Social Media Marketing
Though they are related, community management and social media marketing are not the same thing.
The goal of community management is to build relationships with an external and an internal audience. An external audience includes customers, fans, and followers. An internal audience includes employees, vendors, partners, team members, volunteers, contributors, etc.
By building a community, you encourage continual contact with potential customers, users, and/or clients. It's a means of creating lifelong interaction between your audiences and your brand.
Much community management will take place on social media, but it's not limited to social media. The community may interact with your brand through comments on your site in response to a blog post or to rate a product or service. It can occur in phone calls and emails between your internal and external audience.
When businesses invest well in community management, they build authentic relationships among their audiences. While social media marketing is focused on building awareness and audience, community management is more focused on retaining customers and establishing repeat business.
How to Use Community Management
Community management is ideally used first and foremost to retain interest from the existing audience.
Use community management to encourage long term relationships with your people. A community that is vibrant and attractive to existing users will encourage their repeat endorsement of your brand. That is quite powerful.
It costs 80% less to retain a customer than to acquire a new one.
How to Create a Community Management Strategy
There are several approaches to developing a community management strategy. A typical strategy for community management would include seven steps:
1. Choose Social Media Channels
Identify which social media platform(s) to focus on. It's best to focus on platforms that represent your target audience well.
2. Identify Your Audience
Find out where your audience already exists on the platform and begin to establish a plan to build relationships and interest.
3. Determine Management
Finding the right community manager, team members, and brand ambassadors will be essential to successfully developing a community. They will need to be trusted to steer your community in the right direction and to function as surrogates for the brand.
4. Outline How You Want To Engage
Once you have identified your audience, you need to determine how they want to engage and how you want to engage with them. Use your team members and social listening to determine what is most relevant to your loyal fans, followers, and community online. A well managed community can help ensure that you are creating content that will engage followers and grow your following.
5. Set Goals
It's important to set goals for your community management strategy to track your success. Goals will make it easier to see what is working and what isn’t. Using analytics help determine success and guide future activities.
6. Determine What Success Looks Like
Beyond goals, it's important to define the more significant and perhaps esoteric ‘success’. Success may be linked to conversions, engagement, audience growth, awareness - try to establish what a successful community might look like for your brand.
7. Track Results
The more detailed your metrics, the more information they can offer you. Even a failure can glean useful information, improving every subsequent effort - make sure to keep good information as a means of ensuring success in your future.
Community Management Tips
Find The Right People
It's essential that your team members are right for your target audience and management plan. They often operate as the mouthpiece for your business in one way or another, so it's important that they know how to handle your community.
Plan For Everything
Try to be prepared for everything. Situations may emerge which require quick response times, and in that scenario, you want your people prepared. Adequate planning can go a long way in assuring delicate circumstances are handled properly.
Don’t limit your thinking when considering how to cultivate your community. Often more bizarre tactics and content are more memorable, and successful. Don’t be too eager to dismiss a concept for being unusual. It could be a home run.
Build Brand Personality
Online brands are much like people in this way; those with the more interesting and unique personalities typically find themselves the most popular. You want to be building a personality that is congruent with the nature of your business, and one that is attractive to your target audience.
Try, Try Again...And Collect Data
It's important you keep trying to find something that works. Try ideas and collect as much data as you can from them. Use what data you have to inform any future implementation. Always be learning about your community and target audience.