Online, community management is more than just responding to reviews and liking some Tweets. It’s about engaging with your brand’s community in authentic and thoughtful ways to build trust and relationships outside of trying to make a sale. It’s very proactive, with knowledge of the industry/product being vital—versus reputation management, which is reactive and can include somewhat “canned” responses. The main difference? With community management, you’re creating conversations versus responding to comments.
According to Hubspot, “Community management is the process of building an authentic community among a business’s customers, employees, and partners through various types of interaction. It’s how a brand uses opportunities (in-person and online) to interact with their audience to create a network in which they can connect, share, and grow.” None of that talked about making large sales. Instead, community management is the place to showcase your brand/product’s humanness and focus on the people.
*cue the little green men from Toy Story*: “One of us, one of us.”
Take the Sims 4 community manager, @SimGuruFrost, who posts as a brand ambassador under their own account. They immerse themselves into the community, being an active user themselves. With their game knowledge and passion, they help to develop the community by participating in discussions, interacting with customers, and sharing their experiences as a user. As an active participant in the community versus a “faceless” brand, relationships and trust can form naturally with someone who has the same kind of investment in the community.
No matter your brand or service, there’s likely a community out there for you. If there isn’t one already established, you can always create a community yourself. A great way to start to build a community is through influencer marketing — this way, you can at least interact with ambassadors. Other ways to build community include branded hashtags, a referral program, or Twitter chats, forums, and community pages on Facebook.
The main aspect here is providing value beyond a product or service. This would include things like blog posts that share not only your product but others as well. It might seem counterintuitive to feature another brand in your blog posts or content, but if you focus on products that don’t exactly do what you do, you can create credibility to the reader as you’re also positioning yourself as a thought leader. In addition to this, a community manager can prioritize searching for questions that they can respond to with a solution from the brand. For example, if someone asks “does anyone have a recommendation for a pair of jeans?” the community manager can respond with reasons why that user should use their jeans specifically.
It’s vital to monitor your brand’s online chatter as it allows you to listen, respond, create relationships, and garner feedback from your direct audience. Monitoring what people say is also a great way to find new marketing ideas or realize something that may not be working, but customers aren’t willing to write in reviews. Community managers can find out a lot of information by not only social listening but also asking questions through surveys, product feedback/testing groups, and flat out asking what updates they would like to see, much like Slack does with responding to feature requests.
Some of the best examples of great brand-to-brand community building can be found with Wendy’s, Netflix, and Denny’s. These brands have used social media to encourage customer interaction by engaging in friendly rivalries with competitors, blending sarcastic humor with current trends, and even involving consumers in their fun. People love interacting with brands like these, even going as far as mentioning brands to entice them to give a response! They’re using their overall strategy to help stand out for the right reasons.
At Cosmitto, we’ll take a deep dive into your business’ goals and your current strategy to give our best recommendations for your business. It’s not just about creating customers but managing them, which takes time and experience. To hear our insight, give us a call.