As a social media community manager, what can you do to help drive business success?
One of the best ways is to help cultivate strong customer relationships, build brand loyalty, and help your business retain more customers in the long-term. A strong community becomes a place where customers interact not just with your brand, but with each other – working as free word-of-mouth advertising and a great source of positive reviews.
But a social media community doesn’t just spring up overnight. It takes time and hard work to build one. As a social media manager, you’ll have to set up a plan, track the right metrics, and get commenting to get the ball rolling.
Luckily, we’re here to help with these tips and tricks for social media community management best practices.
1. Plan, plan, plan
Consistency is key in your social media community management strategy. Plan ahead so you can have content coming out reliably at all times, and you can clearly see what needs to be accomplished.
Consistency will help keep your posts relevant in terms of your audience’s news feeds and maintain a healthy online presence to keep their attention.
Planning ahead is crucial to your success as a social media community manager. All your content, whether it’s the posts you schedule, ongoing campaigns, contests, etc., should be arranged in a detailed content calendar so you can take a clear, overall view of your work.
You’ll also want to do everything you can to avoid publishing errors, so set up roles and approval flows for your team as well. The content you have going out should be checked and double-checked, with only key team members being able to publish.
2. Work on your communication skills
As a social media community manager, you’ll be in a customer-facing role, and that comes with a lot of pressure. There are a lot of ways that things can go wrong, and many of them won’t be your fault. Whatever the case, it’s important that you’re able to stay calm under pressure and keep it professional.
It’s important to remember that every time you publish a post, retweet, or reply to a comment, you represent not just yourself, but your company in a public space.
Therefore, as a social media community manager, you will need to be able to take on that pressure to stay diplomatic and customer-oriented in your communications.
A great way to prevent crises ahead of time is to monitor conversations around your brand and topics related to it. This social media listening will give you the heads up that there might be a problem and will help you monitor the sentiment around your brand so that nothing catches you by surprise.
3. Cultivate a brand personality
You may need to stay professional and not insult your audience, but it’s equally important that your brand has a coherent and recognizable identity in its community interaction.
This helps your audience feel like they’re talking to a person and will go a long way in helping to nurture engagement and brand loyalty.
Some of the best social media community management examples are brands that have put a real effort into developing an interesting and unique personality.
One great example is Wendy’s, with its extremely sassy Twitter account. The fast-food chain has taken aim at its competition, with hilarious jabs at McDonald’s, Burger King, IHOP, and more. But it didn’t stop there: the chain even roasted its own followers, often by request.
It’s a risky strategy and requires an extremely keen awareness of one’s audience. It is easy to go too far and offend people online - especially with a large audience. But it paid off for Wendy’s and their social media went viral.
Despite the chain being a fraction of the size of fast-food giant McDonald’s, their Twitter account boasts 2.85 million followers, and its audience is much more engaged, with tweets regularly bringing in much more engagement than McDonald’s.
4. Define success and set metrics to track it
Tracking success for social media community management can be tricky. Traditionally, ROI is often tracked through clicks and conversions, but your results from social media won’t be as clear. It can be difficult to determine how your efforts have contributed to sales and leads directly.
Instead, it’s better to determine how you define your own success, depending on your goals. Track what kind of content your audience engages with, what gets them talking or falls flat, and what brings in more followers.
As much of the work of community management will be as a point of contact for customer queries and product problems, another good set of metrics to keep track of are response time, resolution time, and customer satisfaction.
Tracking these will help you, as a social media community manager, to determine how well your team is performing, and see clearly where you can improve to better meet your customers’ needs.
5. Include Your Audience in the Conversation
Social media is all about interaction. So while you want to be creating and publishing the best content you can, sometimes even better content will come from another source: your audience.
This is User-Generated Content, or UGC.
It is powerful because it is authentic, and reflects what your audiences think about your brand. It allows your audience to share their experiences, positive or negative, and drives the conversation forward in ways that you won’t be able to do by just churning out content into the ether.
It is also an excellent way for your to engage with and get closer to your audiences, making your brand feel more personal and approachable.
User-generated content can be small things, like posts or tweets mentioning your brand, user reviews, all the way up to campaigns and contributor blogs.
One excellent example of harnessing user-generated content in a big way was Coca Cola’s “This Is Ahhh,” campaign - the first commercial ever to be entirely comprised of user-generated content submissions from the soft drink giant’s audience.
When the tweets are as broken as the ice cream machine. https://t.co/esdndK1iFm— Wendy’s (@Wendys) November 24, 2017
Check out our contributor blog for more on why you need to include user-generated content in your social media strategy!
6. Collect and use data
As a social media community manager, you are in closer contact with your audiences than anyone else.
You see on a daily basis how they respond to your content, what drives engagement, what does not, and what issues and queries they have - all in real-time.
This skill set makes you an invaluable source of information about customers and prospects for your company.
A good community manager stays on top of the challenges and opportunities facing their brand to constantly improve their performance, but your value goes far beyond improving your own performance:
Through your close contact with your audience, you will have insights that others won’t have access to. Don't let all that data go to waste - collect actionable feedback and share it with other departments.
A great way to do this is to label incoming queries and group them by the topics or issues customers are bringing to your attention. This will help you pinpoint their difficulties and pain points, and allow you to work to improve the way your brand responds to their needs.
The value of this data cannot be understated - you’ll end up with happier, more loyal customers, as well as more easily converted leads.
7. Be flexible with your time
Fortunately or unfortunately, the job of a social media manager is not limited to strict 9-to-5 office hours.
This can be a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, it gives you a certain level of flexibility in your work hours; but on the other, it means that it’s very easy to feel like you’re constantly on call.
Social media never stops and you may feel like you should always be watching to catch a problem immediately. After all, there have been times in the past where social media crises spiraled out of control because the offending party wasn’t online to mitigate disaster.
On the bright side, this also means that if you follow tip #1 and keep organized with plenty of content scheduled and ready to go out, you can structure more your time the way you want it.
But there’s another way you can buy yourself more free time, even while you maintain a consistent online presence:
8. Be tech-savvy
How are you supposed to keep an eye on your social media every day of the week without staring at your computer at all hours? The answer is two parts, but simple: Go mobile, and provide yourself and your team with the tools you need to save time.
A social media community manager’s job isn’t your average desk job. Instead of a routine 9 to 5 schedule, you’ll need to be on hand to post in-the-moment Instagram Stories, write newsflashes at a moment's notice, whether you’re in the office or on the move.
Keep up with this pace by embracing mobile: You’ll be able to handle interactions on the fly and avoid building up a backlog of work that would distract you from your other responsibilities.
But handling your social media community management on a platform-by-platform basis can end up being overwhelming, even on mobile. Being tech-savvy doesn’t mean juggling multiple applications, in fact, it should be the opposite: Simplify! Go beyond native tools.
Get your team a tool that allows you to consolidate all your disparate social media data into one platform.
The role of a social media community manager can seem daunting, but the key takeaways here are:
Get organized with the tools you and your team really need with defined metrics and a robust content calendar.
Cultivate a brand personality to nurture your community. Get them involved with user-generated content.
Collect the vast and granular data right at your fingertips as a social media community manager and put it to use. Your team and community will thank you for your insights!
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.