Having a well-designed website is a smart way to start building your online presence. But how can you retain the attention of your audience and improve your ROI in the long term? Investing in online community management means strengthening your bond with your target audience to develop a profitable long-term bond.
Why is community management important?
Good online community management is what differentiates highly-converting digital strategies from ineffective ones. People are bombarded with automated messages, telephone calls, and unsolicited emails every day. Most of them do not offer actual solutions for their wants or needs, which leads to seeing these messages as sources of frustration. While automation is a key concept in many areas, it is not always the best solution when it comes to communicating with customers. There has to be a real person behind the screen as people are less likely to feel frustration if they a legitimate human interaction takes place. We all want a real someone looking into our issues.
Community management allows you to show the human behind your brand. Engaging with your audience directs your brand awareness to a positive place, builds necessary long-lasting relationships, and propels your word of mouth marketing. If you manage to build a nice community, others will want to join in on the fun.
Now that you know the importance of online community management, let us take a look at how you can create a strategy for your own purposes.
4 steps to implement a community management strategy
1. Set attainable goals
Do you want to increase brand awareness, to improve customer support, or to be a unique voice on the internet? Before creating profiles on social media, it is important to set attainable goals – meaning they must be something you can commit to working towards. A goal will vary depending on the size of your company and community, but keep in mind that the more you your following grows, the more important attainable goals become.
If you have a startup or a small-sized business, you probably want to reach more potential clients and make your brand known. In this case, you could focus at first on planning campaigns to increase brand awareness.
If however you represent an established brand with an established following, the first step should be to assess if your social media channels provide valuable customer support and if engagement with your audience is timed properly.
2. Choose the most relevant channels
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitch, TikTok… the list goes on. Should you be active on every single trending platform? The answer is most likely no.
Each social media channel has its own characteristics, ranging from the type of audience it attracts, what content it requires, how likely a business is to generate leads in a specific industry, and how demanding their community management is.
When deciding to become active on a new social media channel, you have to consider your target audience’s habits as well as your brand’s adaptability. Will a tailor generate new business by creating a TikTok profile? Probably not, unless you want to target teenagers looking for suits for their proms and you are willing to put a lot of effort into creating buzz-worthy content. And even then, it’s a very hard reach.
Stick to where you are more likely to find success and ignore the exceptions if you do not have the time or manpower to properly manage new communities. It may just be enough to be on a couple platforms where most of your audience is likely to already be.
3. Provide value to customers
Whenever a customer takes their time to write a comment on your page, they really appreciate a response. Provide them with useful information, acknowledge their problems, or simply show some appreciation so that they know you care about them.
People need a reason to remain engaged with your brand. Sometimes it will take more effort to give feedback on a problem than you may think worth it, sometimes there will be too much happening at the same time. The cases are endless, but you need to make sure you are on top of all of this. Those who go the extra mile to engage with your brand already represent a small chunk of your total following, you should not miss on these valuable interactions.
Another important aspect of providing value relates to feeding your audience content that matches their needs. If a lot of your followers have the same question about your business, you can add a page with frequently asked questions to your website and communicate about this systematically. On the other hand, if the issue is you need ideas to create the content your audience needs, you can also simply ask them about what they want to see. People love being heard.
4. Monitor, measure, and test
As with any other marketing strategy, monitoring, measuring, and testing your efforts in community management is essential. Many social media platforms have analytic tools to help you measure your progress and learning to read this data is not as hard as you may imagine.
Measuring will help determine the goals you set are being met. Did you want to grow your following? Check your growth over a period and compare it against your communication strategy. Were you not doing community management when you did similar actions? Compare your results against that data too.
When it comes to monitoring, you have to pay attention to more specific goals. How do your followers respond to your comments? Can you determine a pattern of response for different types of content? Is it time to readjust your communication strategy?
Building a healthy community with good practices
Everyone likes to be at a place where they feel welcome. Your page should be a space where your audience feels like they can not only relate to the content you publish, but also be heard and establish a two-way conversation. You should really focus on community management because, in the end, your online community is your strongest asset in a world where paid walls become increasingly harder to brech when it comes to reaching your targets.
As long as you remember the value of your established community and do not fall in the trap of cookie-cutter pre-written answers for every issue, your online presence will grow organically with an audience that is more than just numbers.