Understanding Community Management
Two of the most common mistakenly interchanged terms are social media marketing and community management. Although these tactics align, they can also specifically and strategically accomplish different business objectives.
The Difference Between Community Management & Social Media Marketing
When it comes to community management, the goal is not marketing. Instead, the community management role is one of building or enhancing an online community to make it more interactive and engaging for the target audience. Your Community Manager will answer questions, drive brand engagement and develop one-to-one relationships on behalf of your organization. Like any true PR and communications tactics, strategic community management delivers goodwill for your organization.
Social media marketing, differs in that the objectives focus on KPI’s like impressions, reach and conversations. A social media marketer leverages tools like Facebook & Instagram advertising and promoted video to increase brand awareness and drive consumers to take desired actions. Social media marketing is less about the conversation but more about fueling the fire by delivering and marketing great content.
Together, social media marketing and community management create an online community that thrives, engages and converts.
Top 10 Community Management Tips
To help boost community management efforts, here are 10 tips to help in expanding an existing community or to create a new community that is active, engaged and interactive.
- Provide a connection – people feel connected when they have a voice and feel heard. Making an effort to include articles, blogs and links to the very interests of the community enhances this feeling of connection.
- Start a campaign –hashtag campaigns are very powerful and can quickly turn from an online event into a physical event. This could be a meeting, a rally, a learning experience or anything you choose. Check out how Food Banks Canada secured $750,000 through online engagement.
- Ask for opinions – one of the most powerful ways to engage people is to ask for their opinion. By presenting an article or information and soliciting reader opinions, you create engagement.
- Respond – the idea of online community management is interaction from the community as well as the community manager. It is not inclusive or engaging if the communication is all one way with no response.
- Use images wisely – images can be very emotional and elicit a response in the community. If you are using images, choose them wisely and avoid images that may be sending mixed messages about what your community values.
- Be empathetic – the community manager needs to not only represent the company or business position, but they have to be able to connect and be emphatic to the needs of the community. This is not a sales job, and if the communication is stifled or artificial, the community will respond in kind.
- Use analytics – it is important not just to have a “feel” for how the community is growing and responding, but to use analytics to generate data to demonstrate what is effective and what types of posts are not effective.
- Network outside of the community – being active across multiple channels and in personal interactions is critical to continuing to build the community. It will not grow if the efforts for engagement and interaction only occur within the existing cohort group.
- Make it relevant – blogs, posts, articles, comments and responses need to be relevant to your community. This is not just an immediate relevance, but something that shows the understanding from the customer’s perspective. Being defensive or aggressive is not effective and will limit rather than enhance interaction.
- Align with business objectives – effective community management cannot occur without an understanding of the business goals, objectives and mission statement. Stay in touch with these aspects of the business and tailor messages to correlate with these central components of sales and marketing. If you find you need support, consider outsourcing social media.