What Is Community Management?
Community management is the process of building and cultivating a group of like-minded individuals around a brand, product, service, or cause within a virtual or digital space. It involves creating a space where people can connect, share, and learn, and then nurturing that space so that it thrives. In today’s digital world, it’s never been more important to identify, build and maintain your online community of users. Both startups and established Fortune500 companies are increasingly recognising the value of community. One 2021 study found that 88% of organisations surveyed have at least one dedicated community manager, up from 71% in 2017.
Simply put, community management is about creating a strong connection between your organisation and the people who are interested in it. Think of it as having a friendly and helpful face for your brand.
Why is Community Management important?
Community management helps brands connect closely with their audience, build loyalty, gather insights, and enhance their overall reputation and growth. Let’s break down why it’s so important:
- Increased Audience Engagement: It helps spark and maintain conversations with your audience on social media platforms. Community Management helps develop a relationship with your audience through consistent communication between you, and your users.
- Brand Loyalty: A well-managed community fosters loyalty and deepens the connection between a brand and its customers. Customer loyalty also increases the size of your community. By having a strong and positive opinion of your brand, your loyal users will spread the word to their friends and family.
- Conflict Management: It ensures resolution of issues, maintaining a positive and respectful space and ties in to your brand reputation. Both of which your users will come to recognise and appreciate by remaining loyal, and spending more time within your community.
- Brand Reputation: Community management shapes a brand’s public perception and reputation.
- Feedback Mechanism: Much like a paid focus group, online community management provides an efficient feedback loop, ensuring your brand stays aligned with customer needs, and able to refocus your business objectives swiftly.
- Advocacy: Effective community management turns satisfied customers into brand advocates, further amplifying your brand’s reach and influence.
- Innovation: It encourages idea sharing, leading to innovation and improvement in products or services.
What Is the Difference Between Social Media Management and Community Management?
Social media management primarily focuses on creating and distributing content across various social media platforms to reach and attract an audience. It involves planning posts, running ads, and analysing data to measure success. Community management is about fostering engagement and nurturing relationships within that audience.
Social media management is more focused on the content that is published on social media, while community management is more focused on the people who interact with that content.
Social media managers are responsible for creating and publishing content, while community managers are responsible for engaging with and building relationships with community members. However, there is some overlap between the two disciplines, and many social media managers also have some responsibility for community management.
Ultimately, the best way to distinguish between social media management and community management is to consider the goals of your social media presence. If the goal is to simply publish content and drive traffic to the website, then social media management is the primary focus. However, if the goal is to build a strong community of engaged users, then community management is the primary focus.
What Is the Role of a Community Manager?
Community managers are responsible for a wide range of tasks, including:
- Creating and managing the community’s online presence. This includes setting up and moderating forums, social media channels, and other online spaces where community members can interact.
- Engaging with community members. This involves responding to questions, comments, and feedback, as well as starting conversations and fostering discussion.
- Building relationships with community members. This involves getting to know them, understanding their needs, and finding ways to help them connect with each other and the site owner(s).
- Overseeing the community’s rules and guidelines. This involves managing the word filters, reviewing negative content, promoting positive interactions and ensuring that the community is a safe and welcoming space for everyone.
- Analysing and measuring the community’s performance. This involves tracking things like engagement, growth, length of stay and satisfaction, so that the community can be continually improved.
Community Management Basics
- Monitor: Also known as “social listening,” it involves tracking online conversations about your brand using tools like Mention, Sprout Social, or Google Alerts. This includes searching for your brand name, products, or services.
- Engage: Actively respond to comments, resolve complaints, start conversations, thank satisfied customers, and reach out to potential followers. Creativity and personality are welcome.
- Moderate: Also known as “reputation management,” it requires promptly addressing community issues and ensuring your profiles are spam-free, cultivating a positive and engaging environment.
- Measure: Evaluate your most engaged channels and understand audience sentiments about your brand. Determine if there is a need to steer conversations in a certain direction and solicit feedback through questions, polls and surveys.
- Report: Work as a team with other departments in the organisation such as Marketing or Production with the ultimate goal of sharing the community’s sentiment around the brand’s direction. Gathering feedback from the community through Monitoring, Engaging, Moderation, and Measuring helps the organisation to understand what their community of users wants and appreciates about the brand.
Community Management Best Practices
- Define Community Guidelines: Create clear guidelines outlining expected behaviour and ensure new members review them upon joining.
- Brand Explanation: Include a concise brand description in all online profile bios and provide a link to your site for more information.
- Consistent Voice: Maintain a consistent brand voice across platforms, adjusting your conversation style to suit the platform’s norms. Show personality and humour where suitable.
- Encourage User-Generated Content: Motivate satisfied customers to share product images on social media using a branded hashtag.
- Engagement: Engage with your community proactively, not just reactively. Drive interaction by initiating contests, challenges, or thought-provoking questions.
Community management is a vital strategy that directly influences your brand reputation, playing a crucial role in customer engagement, brand loyalty, and social media presence.
If you want your brand to shine and people to love it, community management is where the magic happens. Sign up for our Social Media and Online Safety newsletter for more community management best practice tips.