Great social media marketing is authentic, engaging and actionable. It is aligned with an organization’s overall brand positioning and provides stakeholders with valuable insights. When executed effectively – and with these key attributes top-of-mind – social media marketing also builds relationships and supports customer retention. And, that, is where community management comes into play.
Social media is built around two-way communication
Social media offers brands the opportunity to engage with online audiences in real-time. It provides an avenue for educating, engaging and driving meaningful and measurable action. Just as you have client relationship managers in your day-to-day business, it is important to identify someone who can manage the relationships that are being built and nurtured on social media.
What does community management entail?
Managing social media communities involves not only proactively distributing original and third-party content, but responding to questions, comments and engagement that is spurred from that content sharing. In some industries, community management also entails a customer service function, helping customers to solve problems and connect with the right people to address their needs.
In addition to responding to engagement in a timely manner, community management also entails proactively monitoring online communication channels for buzz about your brand, be it positive or negative. From online reviews to comments on media coverage to press articles themselves, it is important to keep on top of what is being said about your organization so that you can capitalize on the good and manage the negative in a timely manner. As we often tell clients, just because your company or cause isn’t using Twitter as a communication channels doesn’t mean others aren’t talking about your brand on Twitter.
How much time does community management take?
The amount of time a company invests in community management is informed by several factors. Organizations with more active social media communities will have more questions, comments and engagement to respond to, thus increasing their time investment. For entities that are more prone to experiencing a crisis or negative brand commentary, a higher investment of time is required, particularly when it comes to planning and monitoring.
Regardless, all organizations that are active on social media should allocate time for:
- Sharing quality content from other community members
- Thanking people for their support and engagement
- Answering questions
- Engaging influencers with whom it is important for your brand to build and maintain a relationship
- Monitoring for commentary about your brand
Does every comment and question warrant a response?
While some engagement is best handled simply by favoriting a tweet or liking a comment, others require more attention. For example, if someone ordered a product from your company and it arrived damaged, that requires some internal investigation and redirecting the customer to the appropriate person and method of contact. On the flipside, if someone is loudly complaining about their experience with your brand on social media, that is a situation that may be better handled offline with personal outreach. While you don’t want online audiences to feel undervalued or ignored, there are instances where social engagement can exacerbate a situation as opposed to addressing it. Bottom line: have a policy in place for what types of feedback you will and will not address via social media and what is best handled by responding through a different communication channel.
Social media marketing is far from “set it and forget it” marketing. While developing weekly/monthly calendars and proactively planning/sourcing content can help to ensure a consistent presence, the importance of monitoring and engaging with online audiences cannot be overlooked.