The best part about social media marketing? It give brands direct, 24/7 access to their consumer.
The most difficult thing about social media marketing? It gives consumers direct, 24/7 access to a brand.
Community Management is an agency discipline that emerged from brands’ need to monitor, engage, and listen to their audience in the social space. In practice, it looks like the marketing offspring of customer service and PR—engaging in conversations, solving problems, and simply monitoring what your brand’s audience is saying and doing.
But because Community Management is so immediate, it’s important to set up guardrails. Here are some tips to safely connect and engage with your online communities.
Mind Your Tone
Humor is a great equalizer, but it doesn’t have a place everywhere. It may seem tempting to adopt the fun, witty voice that brands like Wendy's have used with great success, but the best way to build trust and encourage conversation is to hold true to the brand customers know you as.
If you’re casual and fun, gifs and pop culture slang might be perfectly on brand, but if you specialize in selling top-of-the-line solar panels to other businesses, you might consider a more buttoned-up response.
Make Yourself Useful
A Community Manager’s degree of involvement will vary from client to client, but ideally you would respond to each complaint you encounter, answer any questions you can, and do whatever is possible before directing consumers to phone or email for resolution. Social media is immediate—these other channels usually mean automated menus or hours of delay. Directing consumers here may leave them feeling unimportant or ignored.
It’s Not All Negative
In addition to putting out the little fires, be sure to acknowledge those making positive comments by thanking a consumer for their kind words or even offering a reward. In addition to cementing positive relationships, it could help spark additional positive conversations around your brand.
Stay on the Pulse
Remember that time a mega pop-star mentioned Red Lobster in one of her chart-topping releases? Now, do you remember Red Lobster’s response? Me neither. Probably because it was 8 hours late (an eternity in social media time). After waiting for a clever response to no avail, the public had moved on.
The key takeaway here is to always look for mentions of your brand outside of conversations that you’ve started yourself. Set up alerts on all your social platforms to stay ahead of the buzz.
Do Your Own Research
The internet is a fickle place. You might earn the trust of your online community through weeks, months, or even years of doing everything right, only to lose them all over one mistake. If using slang, memes, and pop culture references is your thing, make sure you’ve done the research to check the origin and the meaning of what you’re trying to say so that your message is received in the right context and so that you don’t alienate or offend any group of people.
An easy way to engage your audience and make them feel more connected to the brand is to invite them to create and share content of their own. Call for user-generated content (UGC) through the use of hashtags. When users post, be sure to comment and share via your own channels (with permission, of course).