Community management (CM) is often overlooked as an integral part of a digital marketing strategy, but it’s an essential component in building an engaged, loyal base of advocates for your brand.

With hundreds of CM jobs up for grabs around Australia right now – and even a dedicated CM conference running this week (check out SWARM, if you haven’t already) – it’s clear there’s a need for brands to connect with their customers.

Why CM really matters

Your brand doesn’t belong to you

First and foremost, we have to accept that these days, brands aren’t entirely the property of those who create them.

Venessa Peach, co-founder of SWARM, gave us her expert angle:

“In this attention economy space where there’s an awful lot of noise, your brand doesn’t belong to you any more. It’s shaped by your community as much as it is by you. So, it makes sense to be weighing in and engaging in these conversations.”

Today, people go online to review and research a brand or product before they decide to buy. What consumers see online in this decision-making phase is very powerful in forming their perceptions.

The reality? People are going to talk about your brand online whether you like it or not. Community management is an opportunity to join this conversation, engage with customers (and potential customers), and help shape their experiences.

CM = engagement = more revenue

Community management creates engaged customers; and we know that engaged customers buy more, more often. There is a direct link between CM and social media ROI: research has shown that more engagement in online communities can mean up to 25% more revenue.

Engagement leads to advocacy

Engaged customers have an emotional connection to your brand. A great CM strategy that continues to provide people with experiences and information about your brand, products and/or services will strengthen this connection. Good CM fuels this cycle by creating a bond that goes beyond brand loyalty to create advocates: people who are ready to spread the good word about you to everyone they know!

What great community management looks like

Venessa says that because great CM isn’t easy, many brands simply put it in the too-hard basket. And the reality is, CM really is a slow burn. “It needs investment,” she says, adding that short burst community management that only spans a campaign is counterproductive.

Gallup research perfectly explains why campaign mentality amongst brands can only do so much for engaging customers:

“Aggressive advertising campaigns, mega sales promotions, promises of low prices, and reward programs may get customers through the door – but they don’t create the types of emotional connections that drive long-term profits and loyalty.”  

As an agency that pushes clients to adopt an ‘always on’ approach to digital, we see the benefits of a consistent engagement strategy and agree that this couldn’t be more important. In celebration of this week’s SWARM conference we’ve compiled our top eight community management commandments that everyone should know.

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  1. Be real: genuine, truthful, honest communication is critical to forming relatable connections with your users. Creating a place where people feel like they are interacting with a real presence is key. Treat people like humans, because that’s exactly what they are.
  2. Be timely: responding in a timely manner shows users they are a priority. Acting quickly to resolve any issues keeps customer satisfaction high and increases the likelihood of turning a potential negative into a positive experience for the customer.
  3. Use humour: your community doesn’t have to be a serious place. Seeing the fun side of things shows your brand personality and reminds users there’s actually another human at the other end of the keyboard.
  4. Go deeper: going above and beyond merely addressing a user’s comment provides further brand experiences and keeps engagement high. Why not ask a question or link to some interesting further reading?
  5. Be proactive: don’t be afraid to seek communication. Community management isn’t just about responding to complaints and questions. Allowing CMs enough autonomy and freedom to have these conversations on behalf of the brand is the key to building a community that values authenticity.
  6. Turn negatives into new opportunities: Constantly monitoring themes and sentiment to derive insight into your customer’s needs and wants is only half the battle. Next: the insights from your community should be used to inform your content and marketing strategy to address any common misconceptions or negative recurrences. If your community is questioning your values or processes, this is an opportunity to re-educate and tell your story.
  7. Take action: Knowing what your customers are saying about you is the greatest gift to continuous improvement – organisation-wide. Building processes internally so that the opinions, concerns and queries of your community are actioned, workshopped, and acknowledged across your various teams is the key to becoming a customer-centric business that users love.
  8. Build relationships: Community advocates are extremely powerful influencers in user opinion.  If they love to show your brand love, reach out to them and get them involved. Starting a mutually beneficial relationship with members of the public can prove extremely valuable.

If your community management strategy needs to be taken to the next level, we’d love to help!

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