Nailing community management is important for any business active on social media. How you manage your community will define how your followers perceive your brand and without a doubt, if or how often they buy from you.
At its core, community management is about forming relationships and seizing opportunities to interact with your community online, whether that’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn or any other online platform.Good community management can help your brand to:
- Manage complaints quickly & resolve issues amicably
- Turn followers into loyal customers
- Win over prospective customers
- Get product feedback
Why Community Management Matters
It’s easy to think that community management won't have a big impact on your brand because it’s limited to small-scale interactions, but that's not the case.
Customer complaints on social media have increased 8-fold since 2014 (Institute of Customer Service). A single complaint or bad review has the ability to carry to many others, particularly as three-in-five New Zealanders use their smartphone or tablet while in-store to research an item before buying (Nielsen)
The same impact can be had for happy customers and positive reviews, and community management can help build the relationships that create more of those.
Are you listening?
In order to manage your community effectively, you need to be listening and monitoring for conversations relevant to your brand.
The simplest way to monitor online conversation about your brand is by keeping track of mentions, and tags about your brand. However, not all conversations about your brand will tag you directly. Sometimes customers will mention you in other ways (misspellings, by product, etc.) or in blogs or forums.
Setting up Google Alerts can be a great way to keep tabs on conversations relating to your brand. This sets up a search for any term you’d like, and can then email you anytime that term is used online across any publicly accessible website. You can also search social networks directly for specific keywords or hashtags that relate to your brand.
At The Social Shop, it’s our job to monitor multiple channels, keywords, or events for our clients to ensure that we’re taking care of their community on social media, as well as on other locations on the web.
Sparking & Contributing to Conversation
The next component of best-practice community management is proactively engaging with your followers. It's important to not just start these conversations but keep them active. This is especially true, since many social media algorithms use engagement signals like comments to determine what shows in our news feeds.
Warning: It can be tempting to use a bot to automate your engagement on social networks by liking and commenting on your behalf, but we say this can do more harm than good for your brand. Authenticity is the most important part of your social media presence so you need to ensure there’s a human behind your brand in order to connect with your customers successfully.
Rather than being tempted to use a bot, monitor your social channels daily and be quick to address complaints, thank happy customers, answer questions, and join conversations about your products. Be human, and try to avoid copying and pasting responses all the time, or using robotic, repetitive language. Customise the conversation!
Engaging with your community to join the conversation, like in the above example, can be a great way to start relationships online.
It’s also important to respond to queries, to resolve any issues, and show your community you are actively engaged.
Here are some quick tips for engaging with your community online:
- Avoid starting a conversation that you can’t end (i.e. ignore trolls & bot interactions).
- Keep your brand's tone of voice consistent. Don't be afraid to have a sense of humor!
- Encourage happy customers to share pictures of your product (a great way to get user-generated content under a branded hashtag).
- Be proactive about engaging with your community, not just reactive. Incorporate community engagement posts into your social media schedule.
Protect your reputation
Another important component of community management is managing your reputation online. This involves proactively removing any spam off your social profiles, as well as making sure that any negative feedback is addressed.
To start with, hide spam (and report it where possible to prevent that person posting elsewhere). Note: It’s best to steer clear of hiding comments that you find sensitive, as that can be interpreted as censorship by your audience, which may cause a bigger issue for how your brand is perceived in the long-run. Address any sensitive comments with authentic & transparent dialogue, placing customer care at the top of your priority list here.
If spam is becoming an issue on your Facebook page, be sure to set up your profanity filter by clicking ‘Settings’ at the top of your Page, then click ‘Page Moderation’, then insert the words you want to block, separated by commas. You'll need to add both the singular and plural forms of any words you want to block.
Unfortunately, customer complaints are pretty much unavoidable, and people tend to vent their frustrations online, which can be both good and bad for brands.
It is generally better to keep your answer public so others with similar concerns can see it. Asking for an email address or phone number to take the conversation off-platform make be appealing, but this can again be perceived as censorship by your audience.
Even if you can't solve a customer's problem, show them that you're listening. It's a 100% bad look for any brand (big or small) to ignore customer complaints.
By monitoring and engaging with your community, you’ll get a sense of how your community perceives your brand, where you can improve, and even products you can add.
Watch not only the growth of your community but the posts that are getting the most interaction. Facebook tip: Click ‘Insights and Interactions’ to drill down to the ‘Page Post scores’. Sort by the Feedback column to watch which posts are the most popular. This can give you great insight into which of your posts are the most successful, and what you should be posting more of!
Community management presents your brand to the world as a likeable, knowledgeable personality that others can't help but want to engage with, so invest in nurturing a strong community and you'll build a loyal fan base that will advocate on behalf of your brand forever.
If you need help or guidance with Community Management for your brand on social media, get in touch! We'd love to help.