'Likes’ Are Not All You Should Like In Managing Your Brand’s Online Community
I just finished a new article on the importance of managing a community - I should have used the words moderator or administrator in the article as well. As the moderator or administrator of the community is also doing community management. Either way, I have found that many times the management of a community, especially with big brands is often ignored by both the creative, and Ad agency as well as the client. It is possibly one of the most important places to gather marketplace intelligence and measure sentiment - all jobs done by trained analysts anywhere else, but community management (informal data) is often left ignored. I thought I would write a piece that might explain the importance, and how to do community management well. 'Likes’ Are Not All You Should Like In Managing Your Brand’s Online Community
Your brand’s community is out there in cyberspace and you may have someone “managing” it. But is that community manager (or social media manager) interacting with that audience in a way that could help turn them into brand ambassadors? The trick to your social media success is not just in appointing a community manager. It’s about knowing what he or she needs to do to develop that community.
Community is one of those perfect “social” words. It makes us all feel part of something larger; connected to people with shared interests and values. But we forget what it really means. A community is not about one part of it (in this case, your company or brand) throwing stuff out there to get other people to react. It’s not about just counting up the “likes” and feeling good about being well-received. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be “liked.” That’s a basic tenet of humanity. We all want to be the popular kid in class. But a true community, a thriving community, is one that is engaged; one that discusses things; that spreads the word when there’s something new to say or there’s an interesting insight to share. It’s one that listens to what others have to say; that invites feedback and commentary. It’s like a relationship – one that needs nurturing with ideas, empathy, curiosity and support. I find it ironic that for all the talk about the power and importance of the online community for your brand, there’s little discussion about the role of the person who’s in charge of making that community thrive and work on your behalf, driving revenue for your brand.
Many marketing people will hire a community manager – often someone young and for a starting salary – and feel that they’ve addressed the need. But knowing how to interact with a community is different from managing it. Managing suggests a top-down approach when what you really want is a level playing field, an equal relationship with the people who prefer your brand. They should be like friends, not some faceless crowd you hope will follow you just because you’re offering something they might want. People distrust authority until they learn to believe it through conversations and helpful exchanges of information.
I know for a fact that a large grocery chain in Canada spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on content for their social media platforms. But they don’t care what is said in the community afterwards - unless it is negative. They’re just happy to see the likes rolling in. And they feel that if they’re liked, they’re successful. But just like the example of the grade school student who wins a one-off popularity contest, based on something they did or how they looked that day, the victory is a bit hollow. And they might very well be forgotten the next day when something better comes along. Using social media in this way is not taking advantage of its potential. That is just a marketing initiative using new tools in the old way. Best Brand Friends Forever - BBFF’s
One of the most important things to think about is patience and an investment in the long-term relationship with your customers and potential customers – or “brand friends” as I like to think about them. (Or maybe they should be called your BBFFs, Best Brand Friends Forever!) The community manager needs to take the time to get to know them, to learn what they do and what they like. This patience may seem counter-intuitive in the fast, clicky world we live in. But building social relationships and social network analysis (research and networking) take time. Here is an easy guide for what a community manager should do. Do your Research
Be truly invested in followers; the target communities; and the people you hope to engage with.
Be familiar enough with the content to be able to comment meaningfully or have access to the right person in the company who can help answer and direct the messages on a daily basis. Engage in a meaningful way
Change from thinking from “It’s all about me” to “It’s all about them.”
Focus on engagement as the most important metrics for ROI. The raw number of "Likes", comments and retweets don't mean anything.
Measure the level of investment, loyalty and engagement to determine whether social media is "paying off."
Identify Community or industry influencers. We are all looking to build connections with the right people. To start off any project, a community manager will type in “key words” that pertain to their brand and within 5 seconds they’ll have a list of influencers and people who are talking about those keywords. Right away, they have new people to check out and add to lists so that they can follow them and start the relationship process.Appeal to Noble Motives
Nurture engagement opportunities. Each social network site can be an ideal place for producing and promoting content. Keep track of who they are.
Go to sites and profiles for people in your community to learn more about who they are. Start a social network analysis project. (SNA)
Social Network Analysis (SNA) is a method for researching and visualizing our social connections to different people and communities. It also analyzes that connection power, leading us to identify how we can best interact to share knowledge.Be a Good Listener
Remember that while there are people you can see who interacted with your content (e.g., you can see they left a comment or mentioned you in a share), there may be other people and interactions you can’t see.
Source the programs that help you follow your content as it is shared across the platforms. Some of the obvious programs are Hootsuite and Sprout Social. Less well-known but amazing programs are Audiense, Cicsion. And Quintly - I really like Quintly - it dives deep into your community and illuminates what your competitors’ communities are doing!
Research content shares or retweets to find new people to connect with. For example, when readers share or reshare content, they don’t always mention you so you won’t necessarily know they’ve shared the content. By using certain programs – (KissMetrics is a brilliant program to use to set up tracking without writing code!) - a community manager can see those interactions and then start to add those people to a list of engaged community members or target market list.Make others feel important - and do it sincerely
Highlight Expertise With Helpful Tips or intelligent/insightful comments Relationship marketing should be top priority on all social media sites. What can you can do or offer to help others succeed? That may seem odd to some people. Shouldn’t you just be talking about yourself and your brand? The answer is no. By elevating others, you ultimately elevate yourself in most communities. Promotion of anything—even self-promotion—is an ongoing task. Constant and blatant self-promotion is a bad idea. Review Dale Carnagies - How to win friends and Influence people. It was written in 1936, but it still covers all the basics. All community managers should review Six Ways to Make People Like You.
Be subtle and come up with a commenting strategy to engage with other people’s content. That is a strategy all on its own: engage with other people’s content to ultimately build your own brand awareness and build credibility.
Comment on others’ posts with helpful information.
Dive head-first into engagement on other people’s updates. Understand your community’s curiosity – and feed it
Find posts from different people in the target market and converse with them. Answer questions, offer advice or just keep things moving with thoughtful questions. This is how you become a thought leader. You are a curator looking for content that’s interesting and bringing it to others’ attention – sharing and acknowledging the wisdom. When others see how friendly and helpful you are, it fosters a relationship, drawing them to your brand and establishing you as a trusted resource. Engage with people in the communities you seek to target. Showcase your authority in areas they care about. Ask smart questions that bring people into a conversation. A private message, a chat message or a private hangout (and there are pros and cons to each), with someone you identify as interesting or a potential influencer. A real-time conversation via chat is always a great way to communicate with active community member.
They will look at the current followers and see those with whom they’re connected. Those friend-of-a-friend connections are very valuable. You already have something in common - your friend.
Join communities and attend online webinars and events on topics you’re interested in. Great conversations are going on so join in and make some connections! When the event is over, assess the people you really liked and put them in a new document to track them and continue engaging with them. Give honest and sincere appreciation
Increase your visibility to build credibility. If you’re waiting for someone in particular to notice you and your brand, you may be waiting for a while. Why? It’s simple. They don’t know about you. You haven’t made yourself visible to them. All the social media in the world still does not take the place of actually reaching out to someone and cultivating a relationship with them.
Listen to the people you want to connect with. Help them become familiar with you by consistently liking their work, re-sharing their content (don’t forget to mention them) and being active in their comment section.
Think about a community for a brand in the same way that you think about the community of people whose company you enjoy. Social media platforms are ways for people to indulge in a rich relationship with others who go about life in the same way. You want to be liked. But you want to be liked for the right reasons. It’s more than a one-note relationship. Social chit-chat is as valuable as in-depth conversations that teach you new things. You want to have others engaged with how your brand sees the world. They remain loyal when they know they can trust in what you post, what you share and the kind of conversations you like to have. I know this is not "new" news to all of you in 'my' community, but I hope you enjoy this, and I would love your input and feedback on the article. +David Amerland +Dustin W. Stout +Eden Haugland +Mark Traphagen +Md Nurullah +Thomas Power +martin shervington +Rebecca Ruddle +Social Media Today +James Dearsley +Zara Altair +Kristin Drysdale +Ann Handley
- this is the product of your book! (Everybody Writes, it just took me a few months to get out of the gate)