Looking for tips to optimize your brand’s community management for social media in 2020? You’ve come to the right place! We all know that building up your social media presence is a great way to improve brand awareness, create trust with your customers and increase your digital footprint.

However, it’s no longer enough to simply post your branded content a few times a week and hope for the best. The most effective businesses on social media today use an online community management model, which helps them truly understand what their customers are looking for.

What Is Community Management for Social Media?

Community management refers to an active effort to build an authentic community among a brand’s consumers, partners and employees while encouraging conversation directly with the brand’s social media presence. By engaging in an effective community management strategy, you’re giving everyone with a vested interest in your brand the opportunity to speak openly and get their questions answered online.

The key to community management is directly engaging with the conversations that social media users are having while at the same time elevating voices that advocate for your brand. You should take an active role in managing your brand’s digital voice when conversing online with those who have questions or comments.

Why Does Community Management Matter?

Properly managing your community via social media is key for creating an effective, ongoing digital marketing strategy. By understanding who your followers are, what they’re saying and what they are looking for, you can be sure you’re putting out content that helps establish expertise and builds trust in your brand.

Additionally, taking an active role in community management helps you react to potential negativity. A good community manager is equal parts public relations manager, social media manager and crisis manager. They can quickly adapt in order to provide answers to questions and responses to concerns and criticism in real-time.

Building a Community Management Strategy

There are several steps to take when building an effective strategy with regard to community management for social media, and specific purposes for each step. There are also different requirements and tools available for each platform. For instance, Facebook community management requires a different set of skills from Twitter community management.

Here are 5 tips to help you get started on your community management strategy:

1. Choose your primary community channel 

Different social media platforms are often preferred by different demographics. So, if your target audience is teenagers, you probably won’t primarily find them on LinkedIn. Understanding where your ideal customer is spending most of their time online will help you make the most of your community management efforts.

You might find that your brand has a decent following on multiple platforms. If so, that’s great! You still need to understand that each platform will require a unique touch when it comes to community management; Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram all have unique best practices and user expectations.

2. Conduct research 

Communities aren’t built overnight. As you begin to implement a community management strategy, you’ll need to conduct some research. Test out different kinds of posts to see what’s receiving the best responses, and identify who is responding. Conduct polls to directly ask users what kind of content they want to see from your brand, and act on the results.

By showing users that you’re listening to what they have to say and giving them what they’re asking for, you’re working to build trust and gain loyalty. You’re also showing that your online community management is a dynamic conversation, not just a speaker blasting out brand messages and hoping people will listen.

3. Set goals and measure them regularly 

Like most digital marketing efforts, community management works best with a specific goal in mind. Understand what you’re looking to gain from your online community management efforts and work toward specific outcomes. Are you hoping to increase brand awareness? Looking to boost social media comments and shares? Want a reduction in complaints and support calls? Any or all of these goals could be part of your community management efforts.

Depending on what you’re hoping to gain, you should run corresponding reports regularly. Look at metrics monthly, quarterly and annually, and compare them against previous periods to determine the impact of your community management strategy.

4. Consider marketing automation to support your efforts 

It’s virtually impossible to be online 24/7, but there are automation tools available that can help you ensure you’re offering a consistent response whenever your community reaches out to you. Facebook community management, in particular, benefits from detailed insights within Business manager, Groups for more exclusive brand conversations and a built-in chatbot feature within Facebook messenger.

If you’re working with a digital marketing automation platform, you will have access to features not only for Facebook community management but for omnichannel social listening. Using social listening tactics to track brand mentions, keywords and competitors lets you obtain a fuller picture of what your online community is most concerned with.

5. Share user-generated content 

Online community management isn’t a one-way street, and you shouldn’t expect your customers to consistently share your branded content without providing them with an incentive to do so. User-generated content such as photos, reviews and stories can help increase the legitimacy of your brand for those who are on the fence about whether or not they want to engage.

Imagine, for example, that you’re running a restaurant’s Facebook and Instagram page. While you might have some great professional shots of your menu items, chances are your users are aware that your photographer, food stylist and kitchen team have gone above and beyond to make those dishes look appealing. But if you’re also sprinkling in user-generated content from restaurant patrons snapping pictures of their actual plates, you gain legitimacy and your potential audience receives a better idea of what to expect when they come in for a meal.

When you share user-generated content, be sure to ask permission from the original poster and attribute the post directly to them with an @ mention of their username.

Finally, Consistency Is Key

Let us end with an important reminder– many people begin community management with the best intentions, responding to every post and every comment on their social channels. This is a great way to get burned out. Community management strategy needs to be consistent, scalable and sustainable in order to remain successful over a longer period of time.

AUTHOR
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Elsbeth Russell
Elsbeth is the Marketing Content Manager at SharpSpring. Through the creation of lead-generating content, including white papers, blogs, infographics, and thought leadership articles, she leverages her nearly 15 years of experience in journalism, marketing and communications.

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