Wendy's. You might know them. You might have even joined the plea to #bringbackspicynuggets, and you might be aware of their claim to fame on Twitter. Their "trolling" has garnered them over 3.4M loyal followers. If there's one lesson learned from this fast-food giant turned Twitter star, it’s that brands should realize community management is more than replying to angry customers.
Community management entails actively managing your social media communities, as well as cultivating and nourishing existing relationships. Employees or agencies that oversee community management are the eyes and ears of the brand’s reputation on social media. They hear customer grievances, they see praising reviews, and they keep a pulse on the latest social trends. The consumer insights that community managers gain from conversations on social media channels make them more than just online customer service agents. Community managers are now the most connected to the voice of your online customer. They gather the knowledge to create on and off-line community-centric programs and initiatives that help shift brand perception.
Today, community managers are in charge of managing various social channels – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. – and in some cases, for multiple clients. It’s a juggling act, without turning into a full-blown circus. If you’re a community manager or have some responsibility for community management in-house or an agency, here are some tips to help you refresh your strategy and approach to the changing landscape of community management.
5 Tips to Instantly Bolster Your Community Management Strategy
1. Community management isn’t just replying to consumers.
A common misconception about community management is that it’s solely focused on customer service – liking posts, replying to comments, and answering questions. Don’t get us wrong, that’s a large part of the job. Recent research by UK Website Builder uncovered that 90% of social media users have already used social media to communicate with a brand or business.
However, the goal should be greater than having a quick reply rate. Community managers are responsible for cultivating relationships between the brand and consumer. Social media is relational. When a consumer follows a brand or account on social media, they are showing them that they care about what they’re saying, showcasing, servicing, etc. Brands then must reciprocate that emotion to cultivate those relationships by humanizing their online engagement to connect with customers.
2. Brand Advocates are key to building brand communities.
While you can advocate about your product or service, highly loyal and satisfied consumers are the bread and butter of successful community management strategies. Social brand advocates use word of mouth marketing to spread organic, authentic messages about your brand to their followers. So how do you identify your most influential brand advocates? Here are a few tips:
Keep a pulse on your social channels to see who is engaging with your brand. Keep an eye out for likes, tagged posts, mentions, reviews, retweets, and more. But don’t just reach out to anyone. Instead, focus on those who continuously engage with your social media. Likewise, make sure the people you choose have an engaged audience that cares about the content they are sharing.
- Look for conversations happening off your channels. Reviews sites or blog content systems like Reddit are powerful because they give consumers an unbiased platform to share their opinions about your brand. Seek to build relationships with these people. These relationships can be leveraged for your owned channels.
3. Listen to learn. Create an effective product and marketing feedback loop with your online audience.
When customers take the time to leave a suggestion, review, complaint, or praise, don’t just reply and forget. Instead, look for ways your brand can show that you take consumer insights to heart. Use this feedback to improve aspects of your product or service. Going back to our earlier model of Wendy’s, they are a prime example of a brand that understands the value of consumer conversations. For years, people, influencers, even celebrities like Chance The Rapper, have tweeted at the brand to bring back one of their most popular menu items – spicy chicken nuggets. They let the demand grow and used that as fuel for a twitter campaign asking their followers to get a post to 2 million likes for them to bring back the beloved food item.
Why was Wendy’s so successful? Their community management focused on a robust social listening strategy. Your community management strategy should use detail social listening to help you understand how your brand can capitalize on golden opportunities.
4. There are sound ways to measure the value of your community management efforts.
How can you tell if your community management efforts are making a positive impact on your brand or the brands you manage? Unfortunately, performance indicators aren’t one-size-fits-all. Every community is unique, and success is directly related to the goals of the organization. We first recommend talking with key executives to understand what their goals are for their social channels. Is it increasing follower size? Driving conversation to a website? Increasing engagement metrics? A centralized goal will help determine which key performance metrics to analyze.
Some metrics of community management success we recommend measuring are:
Community growth: Looking at net new followers over a specific time frame.
Community engagement: Tracking changes in the number of comments, likes, or shares over a defined period.
- Sentiment Analysis: Analyzing the conversation sentiment to see if people are talking more positively or negatively about your brand over time.
5. Approach each social channel with a unique lens.
You can’t approach community management the same for every social channel. Your followers on Facebook most likely won’t look like your followers on Instagram. Understanding who your audience is for each channel is key when considering how to tailor your community management strategy for each site. You should also consider the functional nature of each channel. Content on Twitter has a short lifespan. Moments come and go within minutes and if you aren’t prepared to capitalize quickly you could be missing out on golden opportunities for your brand.
Community management breathes life into your brand. Whether it’s a few hours per day or a full-time commitment, it pays to have people tracking, monitoring, responding, and curating content designed to build authentic relationships between a brand and its consumers.
But that’s not to say humanization can only be achieved through human support. With the growth and scalability of artificial intelligence, chatbots are becoming more advanced in how they can interpret and respond to consumer needs on social media. Businesses are starting to recognize the value of chatbots. Google Trends reported that over the past 5 years, search volume around “chatbots” grew 19-fold. If you need evidence of the success of A.I. customer service, Lemonade successfully disrupted the insurance industry through their radical approach to selling plans through their app. The company reports that a customer can sign-up for an insurance policy in 90 seconds for as little as $5 per month. And a chatbot named Maya is in charge of leading the entire customer’s journey.
Whether your community management remains human or is looking to expand into human-like automation, we hope you consider our tips to help bolster your social strategy. For more marketing tips and tactics from our team, sign up for our newsletter below, or contact us directly for more info about how we can help!