Community management became a strategically critical tool for businesses in 2018. Many brands and companies have already understood that it’s not enough to place ads on various platforms and wait for customers to come to them. They need to reach out to connect with their customers, developing partnerships and maintaining a dialogue.
We’ve compiled 5 tips for you here that we discovered for ourselves over the past year and that helps us improve our approach to community management, reaching new levels of success.
1. Connections, connections, connections
It goes without saying that managing a community means you have to make connections with people (oops, we just said it!), but there are several ways to take advantage of this fact to your benefit. Proper practices and habits can turn just another community member into a loyal ambassador for your brand. But how do you do that?
First of all, even though you’re speaking on behalf of the brand or company (and probably from an official account), make conversation personable. Introduce yourself with your name. This simple initiative converts the conversation from one with a customer representative to one between two normal people. Second, use a common language in your conversations and generally try to be as accommodating and approachable as possible. Even if your brand tends to have a more serious personality with serious clients, everyone is tired of the pre-formulated, high-brow answers and comments. When you’re speaking with a community member, talk like a human being rather than a robot. A good example is closing your messages with community members in a regular and endearing way, like “good luck man” or “thanks dear” – whatever you might be comfortable saying in a conversation with someone you’re already a bit familiar with.
2. Data collection is king
Your community managers speak every day with dozens of people. They visit a lot of different sites and make their way into many conversations online. It’s tough to follow all the info that’s flowing in front of you. And even if someone or some conversation seems inconsequential at the moment, they may become very important at a later date.
Figure out ahead of time what data is important for you to collect. Is it the names and details of the people you’ve spoken with? Sites you entered where there was a discussion about your brand? Forums that you discovered that would be of interest to your community members? Next, create a joint document for your employees to take note of all the information and data they collect along the way. Don’t forget to make it clear on the document exactly what kinds of data you want.
Let’s look at a real-world example that landed on our doorstep. Our client was searching for translators from within the community to translate a document into several different languages while offering prizes as compensation. At this point, the client didn’t have a pool of translators to connect to, so we had to research options online, advertise posts, attract people and formulate proposals from scratch. We decided to save the information of every translator we spoke to, including names, contact info, language and the deal each was offered. A few months later, when we encountered another client with the same needs, we already had a prepared list of relevant community members and we saved ourselves hours of extra work.
3. Technological aids
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel or develop a new program. In fact, you don’t have to work very hard at all when the internet is overflowing with dozens of platforms that exist solely to help you manage communities, grow them or connect to their members.
**Our tip: Every time you get a good idea and you’re conflicted whether or not to pursue it, take a peek at the world wide web! We’ve worked with over 5 platforms in the last year that have helped us reach our goals simply and efficiently, which is also how we found them. Whether you want to maintain an ambassador program, offer a community prizes to perform certain tasks or get off the ground with a viral competition for prizes, do a quick Google search before driving yourself nuts trying to figure out how to do it. As we said, community management is 2018’s hot topic and technology companies haven’t let themselves stay behind.
4. Be active and don’t stick to just the main platforms
Conversations between people exist across the internet, not only on Facebook and LinkedIn. These discussions represent an amazing opportunity for your community managers to network, grow your community or have a discussion with opinionated community members. Don’t limit yourself only to the main, well-known platforms. Look for the conversations that are opportunities for you.
Of course, one of the easiest ways to find these discussions is by using Google Alert. But since we’ve already decided to invest time and effort, there are a number of platforms that will effectively conduct this search for you and provide you with a comfortable interface for finding opportunities based on keywords and search terms.
We should also be thinking bigger and be more creatively in these terms. It isn’t nearly good enough to search for conversations with your brand name. Try to also search for conversations about the industry, products, services or points of interest for your community. Also, don’t forget to search for your company or brand name with common typos and errors. Awario is one example of a company that provides such services, but certainly isn’t the only one in the field that can be found with a quick and easy search.
5. Have fun
A community, especially an internet community, is a group of people with at least one mutual interest. Never forget that these are people, not numbers or profits. They are searching for belonging and others with similar interests to have conversations with them on a certain topic. Everyone wants to feel a part of something.
Enjoy it! Have lots of conversations, meet new people, build connections and form relationships with community members. Let your community managers take more human, less formal response so they can become an inseparable part of the makeup of the company. There’s nothing in the way of laughing and having fun. In fact, it’s just the opposite: if that’s the attitude your community managers carry with them, that’s the attitude they’ll get in response. When your community manager sits in front of the computer screen and laughs out loud because he’s having a pleasant conversation with community members, you know you’ve done something right.
Of course, all of this depends on the values of the company and how it wants to present itself. But, as we’ve learned, behind even the most serious company in the world stands a human being typing the text for a Facebook post.