Why Community Management is different than Social Media.
What is Community Managment?
As a Job-Title, I don’t love the term Community Managment. I believe it’s a role that is more about engaging than ‘managing’ and is more about influence than control. Many companies, small or large get the title and its role with Social Media confused. The key difference between social media and community management is that by ‘managing’ your online interaction with the public you put a human face on your organization.
Done right, it’s a very effective compliment to your social media strategy.
Social Media has the role of creating content, posting, and getting the brand out there. They built professional looking social media pages and post great content that is relevant. The content, the message, and the tone are all brand driven and consistent. Basically, the social media team is leveraging the power of social media to get the word out for your organization. You don’t know the name of the person who runs the Facebook page for Brand X but you still interact with it.
Community Managers: These are people on the front lines, they typically use their real identities as spokespeople for their brand and they interact directly with customers. They are there to say thank you for the great comments and to listen and respond to customer feedback. Ideally, they should be willing to take the conversation wherever it is going to go and bring it to a positive conclusion for everyone. Social Media is in most cases the forum where all this interaction happens.
At the most basic level both roles attempt to foster and grow an online community. Posting and leaving is only half the job. Responding to your public is the second and I believe, most important part of having Social Media.
When you ‘like’ a product on Facebook or when you interact with a brand on-line, that’s Social Media. When you leave a comment or some kind of feedback on a company’s Facebook page, that’s also Social Media in action. When you get contacted or responded to by an individual at that company, that’s community management. As a customer, you are taking part in that brand’s ‘community’ and you are interacting with it. As a community manager, a representative is now taking the time to manage or respond to your interaction. Good or bad, they are trying to be an advocate for the company and ideally, listen to you.
Online community manager for Coca-Cola Ltd.
Facebook Profile Page for Coca-Cola Ltd.
Some tips for successful community management:
Get ready to learn: Don’t start with a predefined idea of who your online community is, go out and there and meet them. You might be surprised.
Help build the right type of community: Depending on your organization and the product or service, the type of community people will want to be a part of will be different. As an example, community management for The Gap is different than the community based around The Kidney Foundation.
Be consistently Proactive, not Reactive: Guide conversations by asking questions that engage feedback. This gives you more of an opportunity to respond to feedback before it turns negative and also give you credibility if a problem or issue comes up.
Don’t Argue: This goes without saying but I said it. Don’t get into it with people and offer to contact someone privately if there is a real issue or concern. You can’t make everyone happy so don’t try. I generally find most communities self-monitor so have a little faith in others to view a troll as just that, a troll. Do your best and move on.
Respond to the right conversations: Find out where the real conversations are happening and then learn from them. Meeting customers online is part of the job but be sensitive about just jumping in on an existing dialog. If you see a relevant moment and you have something to say, go for it.
Stay engaged and follow up: Letting the conversation drop before it’s reached a natural conclusion is like hanging up halfway through a phone call. Stay engaged and follow up if you think it’s necessary. People will be impressed. Follow ups and personal attention is how companies get the ‘WOW’ factor going and, as we know, the wow factor is what it’s all about.
Some Community Management Tools you may want to consider.
You don’t have to do this all by yourself. There are some great services out there to help you track and manage your relationships with the online world. I’m not advocating one over the other and to be honest, I’ve only used Hootsuite on a regular basis but I’m curious to try some these others. Comments? I’ll try and manage them.
Thanks for reading!