Community Engagement: The Queen of Social Media
Almost three years ago, I wrote an article on the importance of a brand having a strong community management strategy. I was inspired by the phrase 'Content is King,' but as any strong female would, I questioned where the queen was. And, I proposed then that community management is queen in social media.
Three years later, I’d say that statement is even truer now.
Yes, content is important in the social world, but community management takes a brand’s presence to the next level.
Content starts the conversation. It might be what people first see in their feed from the brand, so of course it’s important. But it’s community management that has the ability to draw the person in further and create a 1:1 conversation and connection with the brand.
So, let’s talk about what it takes to go above and beyond in community management in 2018.
In its simplest form, community management is the 1:1 online conversations that a brand has with consumers. Often, that takes the shape of customer service, fielding questions about products and services, and helping resolve any complaints.
But, when these 1:1 conversations go beyond that, and start to connect the brand with consumers on a more personal level, that’s when 'management' becomes 'engagement.'
The best brands in social aren’t doing community management, they’re doing community engagement. Meaning, they’re not just reacting to questions, comments and concerns, but they’re proactively seeking conversations with people about things that matter to them and not just about the brand.
Of course, it’s important to address aspects of community management before you can master community engagement.
Know your brand voice. A clear and consistent brand voice is one of the biggest pieces to growing an online following. Brands will get called out instantly if they are trying to fake cool. If it’s not natural, the internet knows it. Find who you are and stick to it. Learn what’s too far, and what’s not far enough in your tone and conversations. Your audience will appreciate you most if they know what to expect from your brand - sassy or sweet or whatever you are - own that.
Active listening is a key piece to any community management strategy. Keep a pulse on what your audience is saying, both good and bad. It can help inform future content and conversations and keep you ahead of potential issues.
Lending a helping hand, which often follows active listening, is another key tenet of community management. Often, people use social to get their problems resolved and questions answered in real time. The consumer expectation from a brand in social is a speedy response and tangible resolution. If you can’t provide that, you’re probably going to have some angry online consumers.
Stay in the know. The internet is a weird place. And a fast-paced place as well. Keeping up with internet culture, trends and conversation is key. Submerge yourself in Reddit, create shared internal Facebook groups with your team to share articles and content, find the resident internet troll at your office and have them teach you their ways or whatever it takes to soak up the web every day. Trends rise, change, and go away faster than one person can keep up with, so putting plans in place to keep a pulse on the internet is a way to help ensure you’re along for the ride.
Lastly, consistently and continuously respond. If you’re only looking for 'viral' opportunities for your brand, you’ll miss the opportunity to make a little moment something huge. Celebs and accounts with huge followers are great, but usually those exchanges will feel forced and don’t happen often. Build your community and your presence by responding to even the littlest of guys consistently. Soon, you’ll have an army of fans who love you for what you do every day.
The #NuggsForCarter phenomenon happened because our client, @Wendys, had identified and employed its sassy voice, actively listened to their audience (even at night), lent a helping hand when a question popped up, stayed in the know about retweet history, and consistently and continuously responded - even to a fan with just over 100 followers.
When you put the effort into perfecting your community management practice and then focus on turning that into community engagement, you’ll likely see your online community applaud you for it!
Usually like this. 👏👏👏👏
Christina Miller is an associate connections director at VML