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Community Management: What Does it Mean and How do we do it Justice?

February 24, 2016

Social-media management is essential to any brand’s success in the Wild West that is today’s online environment. The two aspects that make up successful social-media management are content creation and community management.

Content creation is about posting the messages, images and links a brand wants its users to associate with its name. This includes blogs, videos, images and any other form of content creation. The second, and arguably the most important, element of social-media management is community management.  A community manager is responsible for advocating for a brand on social networks. This individual creates a persona for the brand, actively engages with communities and seeks opportunities to connect with users on common interests. The role of the community manager is to manage the people already aware of the brand and find opportunities to engage new fans and followers.

This role is essential to the success of a brand’s social presence because the community manager reaches out to potential fans, strategically recruits loyal followers that will consistently engage with a brand’s content and thus gains word-of-mouth advocates for the brand.

Through my time as a community manager, I have learned these six key elements to successfully advocate for an entity’s brand on social media:

  • Own the Social Persona: The community manager is the voice of the brand and thus controls how the brand is perceived. Social media is a place for brands to connect with their audiences on an authentic, engaging and human level—it is important to always keep in mind that you are talking to human beings. Be transparent, honest and friendly. Negative replies or comments from the community manager will only place further emphasis on the problem and likely lead to a much lengthier and nuanced conversation than is necessary.
  • Be Nimble: Social media moves quickly. Twitter is considered a high-volume, low-impact platform where information comes and goes quickly. Utilizing trending topics and opportunistic moments is key to any successful social account. Several trending topics can be planned for head of time, such as #MotivationMonday, #TBT and #TransformationTuesday, but oftentimes the content that garners the most engagement focuses on really timely topics. Always keep an eye out for authentic moments to engage in these trending conversations.
  • Put Yourself Out There: There will be instances where the community manager misinterprets a user’s comment or retweets something that might be slightly off-brand. This is the constant struggle community managers face when deciding what content to engage with and what to leave alone on the channel. Given the lifespan of social content, it is better to engage with content you think will garner engagement and add value to your community than it is to possibly miss an opportunity.
  • Make Decisions: A study published on Search Engine Watch found 53 percent of users expect brands to respond to them on Twitter within an hour.Given the fast pace of social media, making decision quickly is important to maintaining loyal followers’ engagement.
  • Respond Quickly: If a user asks a question, the community manager must respond in all situations that are not spam. The user has reached out to the brand for assistance and a lack of response erodes the trust of the fan. The same study on Search Engine Watch found 72 percent of users that share a complaint on Twitter expect a response within one hour regardless of the time of day. That means users expect the same response time at night and on the weekends as they do during normal business hours.
  • Know Your Audience: Just as no two people are the same and one size does not fit all, no two communities are the same and no two people within those communities are identical. A community manager’s job is to serve as a brand advocate but also to understand the audience he or she is working with and engage that audience in ways that are relevant and add value to the online experience.

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