Within many marketing teams, laser focus is placed on content management and strategy, and rightly so. The quality and timing of this kind of output is crucial to the visibility of any brand, but perhaps not every company gives much thought to what happens next. Once a member of the public responds to your marketing efforts, how should they be approached?

This is where a community manager steps in. It is their role to maintain a healthy relationship with members of the public and create a conversational interface for your brand. Whereas content marketing occurs on a large scale, community management involves interaction with individuals or smaller groups of people.

It can be related to customer service, but is not quite as passive as that. It is partly about dealing with complaints and comments that might arise, but mainly involves actively scouring the internet for places to engage in discussions about your brand.

The primary quality of a successful community manager is the ability to be proactive - someone who can jump on opportunities to engage with the public and promote brand awareness.

The key responsibilities of a community manager

Social media has opened up a key new channel for customer complaints. A tirade of comments of this kind might seem like nothing but noise, but ignoring them misses out on a big opportunity to build relationships.

Reaching out in a friendly and constructive manner to frustrated customers can help your brand immensely. Firstly, the customer you help might have a change of heart and be willing to make use of your company again. Also, considering the public nature of these exchanges, other people might share a positive impression of your company having seen how you interact with a customer.

According to Shopify, community management can be broken down into four key activities:

  • Monitoring: this is about searching for online discussions about your brand, perhaps by checking for tweets containing your brand’s name.

  • Engaging: i.e contributing to an online discussion about your brand and communicating positively with potential customers or partners. It is important to remember the 80/20 rule - 80% of outreach should provide value and just 20% should redirect people to your site.

  • Moderating: it is important to pick your battles. Strike a balance between addressing all valid customer complaints and responding to only the most valuable comments.

  • Measuring: i.e being able to analyse how your brand is perceived online, and requesting feedback where possible.

Let’s take a look at a pretty high-profile example of community management. In 2017, Carter Wilkerson contacted American fast food giant Wendy’s on Twitter.

There was no need for Wendy’s to respond to the original tweet, as the request wasn’t exactly pressing. However, their blunt reply meant that Carter’s next tweet received over 3 million retweets and a ton of positive press for Wendy’s.

Of course, engagement like the above is unlikely to see the same level of success, but each positive interaction with a customer should be seen as a small win.

To help companies monitor mentions of their brand on social media, tools like Brandwatch can keep track of the conversations they should be getting involved in.

How else can a community manager help?

As laid out by Singlegrain, a community manager can contribute to the success of the company in other ways:

  • Planning and publishing blog posts, as well as monitoring and responding to any comments on those posts. If your community manager can make your blog a hive of activity, this will only serve to benefit your visibility.

  • Generating interactive content ideas for social media which will increase brand loyalty, such as competitions or quizzes.

  • Reaching out to competitors in the same field and making guest post exchanges, or making an agreement to have content shared on the site of an authority figure.

  • Ensuring outreach is consistent with the brand’s personality but still lighthearted enough to make an impression.

  • Encouraging customers to share photos of your company’s product or services with a relevant hashtag. This does wonders for brand visibility.

A community manager is a key part of the marketing process, and one of several roles that can be easily overlooked, including people analytics experts and social scientists. Ensuring your company follows the best community management practices will mean great content doesn’t fall on deaf ears.

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash