If you’re looking to use social media to grow your brand’s presence you have probably heard of online community management, but you may not be sure if you need to hire a community manager for your business. After all, you take care of updating your Facebook page and Twitter account, what else do you really need?
A common misconception is that community managers do little more than Tweet out links for the brand. If this is the case for you, please join me now as I take a look at what community managers really do, and how they benefit the brand.
Community Management isn’t Just Twitter
If someone is trying to sell you on the idea of hiring him to manage a Twitter account, he’s not a community manager. He’s a person who tweets on behalf of others. Community management is a strategic role more than anything else. Most community managers work closely with the marketing team, content team, advertising team and PR team to plan campaigns and drive sales. Your community manager will help you to:
- Grow your fan and follower base. I don’t care what anyone tells you, very few brands start a Facebook page or create a Twitter presence and have one million fans overnight. Very few brands even reach tens of thousands of fans. Growing your numbers and keeping your community interested is something a community manager is trained to do. If you want your numbers to seriously grow, you’ll need to call in a professional.
- Understand who it is who makes up your community. No one knows the people using your brand better than your community manager. He is the one who talks to them every day, researches their demographics and deconstructs their feedback.
- Plan an editorial calendar for your social media accounts. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instragram, the newsletter, and any other platform your brand uses to produce content also takes careful planning. The last thing you want is to share the same message across all social networks. Your community manager will roll out a strategy for best reaching each individual community.
- Determine and implement the content that works best for your community. Many community managers help the marketing team with a content strategy if no content team is in place.
- Create brand awareness. A heavy online presence means better brand awareness. When people see your brand name often they’ll feel as if they can trust it, even if your product or service isn’t something they used before. Brand recognition means when a community member or potential customer needed a product or service similar to yours, they’ll at least look into what you have to offer because your name is familiar to them.
- Analyze numbers and demographics. Your community manager will provide deep analysis and demographics for all your social media platforms, and help you to use what you learned to best reach the people in your community (and attract new community members).
The above is a small sampling of a community manager’s tasks. It’s a full time job, one that takes careful planning and implementation. It’s not Twitter and it’s not Facebook, but both are incorporated into the bigger picture.
Your Customers Will Appreciate Knowing One Person They Can Trust
When you have a regular community manager who is someone people can count on, she’ll be the go-to person for questions, feedback, complaints and concerns. He or she will also be the face and voice of the brand. Your customers and community members will feel more secure knowing there is someone online who has their back. When people trust the brand they not only use the brand, they recommend it to others as well. Which brings us to…
“Community” Can Be Another Word for “Brand Advocate”
Customers buy. That’s great, but very few customers become so enamored of the brand that they rave about it online or to their friends and family. However, if you grow an awesome community online, you also help to create passionate brand advocates. Because you’re giving folks an outlet to discuss the brand, giving them a place to offer feedback, and having a regular conversation with them, the folks who are using your product or service become more than customers, they become community. When that happens, they spend more time online with your brand and share news and information about your brand with others.
A Social Media Account Doesn’t Guarantee a Personal Connection
Not to keep harping on this trust thing, but establishing a personal connection makes a big difference. Having a Twitter account doesn’t mean you made a personal connection with your community. It simply means you have a Twitter account. It’s the person behind the accounts that turns a Tweet into an engaging conversation. You won’t establish community by randomly tweeting out sales come ons or blog posts, and you certainly won’t establish community if no one is responding to people who are reaching out to you online. Having a regular presence, someone your community knows by name, makes all the difference in the world.
Community Managers Work Offline Too
What about the people who aren’t into social media, how do you make them a part of your community? How do you reach the people who don’t follow you on Facebook or Twitter?
Community management is an offline gig as well. Your community manager will help you to reach people at networking events, parties, meetups, tweetups and conferences. If he or she isn’t attending on your behalf, he or she will help you to plan the best event possible. Since she has her finger on the pulse of the community she can help you determine the best methods for in-person meetings.