What Community Management Should Look Like
During my past life as a social media manager for brands, one of my biggest parts of my job was to connect with the community.
In my opinion, the engagement and community management aspect is sometimes more important than creating the content on social media. At the end of the day, the relationship with a brand is what your target audience is going to remember. Yes, a funny/pretty picture can capture attention. But... If a potential customer asked a question about your product and service and you got back to them right away, they will remember that.
The opposite is true as well. People now have an expectation that brands will get back to them on social media, and when they don’t, that leaves a bad taste in their mouth. I have been in that boat more times than I can count -- looking for info from a brand that I wanted to visit and not getting that information that same day caused me to go to another place.
I know it is a lot easier said than done, and I get asked about how to engage with social media a lot - so I wanted to share some tips and tricks of how to batch your community management time within a few minutes each day so it’s not overwhelming.
Just starting out with community management for brand
If you are a new community manager or social media manager for a brand then you may find that there aren’t a lot of people engaging with the brand on social media. This is your opportunity to reach outside of your specific brand pages, and connect with people on their own Instagram pages or Twitter accounts. It doesn’t work as well on Facebook because it’s a close system with private profiles.
So when you’re just starting out, the majority of your engagement time should be spent looking at who your influencers are, commenting on their posts with thoughtful comments (not just a comment like “love this” or a heart emoji) and responding to people via DM - Instagram recently incorporated an update to make sure you see all your important DM's, make sure to check it out. One recommendation would be to check out who comments on your stuff the most and create a folder within the Instagram saved collection to go back so you can spend more time commenting with your most engaged fans. I had one folder called "WINE CLUB" so I could spend some time each week going to known wine club members Instagram pages and comment and like their most recent photos.
Spend a few minutes in the beginning of your day, and a few minutes at the end of the day with dedicated time engaging with your community. This will help grow your following and THIS is what creates the original relationship with your audience, and gets people coming back for more. It’s even easier when they are already engaged with your brand. They end up being your brand ambassadors and your most reliable source of word-of-mouth.
When you’ve been doing this for a while
While working with Iron Horse Vineyards on social media, we got to a point where I was spending about 75% of my time engaging with people who were commenting on the brand’s Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages. It was a complete change from when I first started and 95% of what I was doing was creating content and sharing it. Trust me, this is a very good problem to have – it means that people care about your brand. So give them the respect that they deserve by responding. Spending time in the morning and the afternoon answering questions, engaging with them, and if you have time-- engaging with them on their own content. But I understand, your main priority is to make sure you are engaging with people on your own content.
When you are getting a continuous amount of questions on social media you will need to spend more time checking your social media channels for questions, comments, etc. A social media management dashboard like Hootsuite or Sprout Social can help make sure you are on top of all your social networks in one dashboard. Or if you are like me, you put your timer on for 10 minutes and have dedicated time 3x per day making sure to engage within the social networks. Any more time and you can find yourself going down a rabbit hole of articles that have nothing to do with your brand.
I go back to my comment above about how I have had many brands not get back to me when looking for information. This lack of engagement isn't JUST a big brand or a small brand issue. I see no engagement from all sizes of brands on social media. They just leave questions and comments out in the wind.
I’ve worked for big brands that have put all of their energy into curating absolutely gorgeous videos and photography, ignoring the community management part. And yet, they would have open ended questions from their community asking about issues with the product.
I will go on record saying: "Engaging with your community is so much more important to focus on then the visual of social media." - Me
Unfortunately marketing managers and CEOs sometimes don’t see that. They just see the pretty picture.
I have worked with one big name beauty brand that did focus on community management, in fact they have at least two full-time people working on community management, yes, even on the weekend. I have also worked with small brands (and big ones) that simply used their social media accounts as a billboard to spread their own personal message out to the world, with no engagement at all.
And don’t get me wrong - billboards have their place. Just not on social media. You know, where the word SOCIAL is in the name.