#CommuniDay

Keep asking questions – Every brand is on a never-ending quest for more engagement and interaction with its audience. But why? And how is it that asking questions yourself is one of the best ways to increase engagement?

Obviously, when asked a question, we have an immediate instinct to respond and offer whatever we can to the conversation. That’s why you’ll always hear suggestions to ask questions of your audience on social media. Statistically, this increases engagement across the board and helps you reach a wider audience. But think a bit deeper than that and you’ll see that asking questions isn’t just a cute social media strategy, it’s a mindset that every business should have.

Brands don’t need to be infallible anymore. In today’s market, it’s much more important for consumers to feel they connect with a brand on a human level, and humans are, by nature, quite fallible. But that doesn’t mean we don’t strive to be the best we can be. That journey is one in which we are constantly learning and improving. How? By asking questions of others. Having this mindset makes your brand more relatable and more honest for consumers. Asking questions signifies humility and integrity – two qualities we are always on the lookout for in others.

But continuously asking questions of your community gives you many other advantages as well: It’ll help you identify your most engaged community members who could become ambassadors or valued customers; it’ll help you learn about your own product and influence your development (after all, you want a product that people are happy with); and most importantly, you’ll be building trust with your audience while providing extra value for them at the same time. Consumers don’t just want a good product – they want to be mentally stimulated. They want to be a part of a community and that means contributing ideas. Give them that and you’ll have the base you always wanted.
So don’t just ask a single question – keep asking! Stay engaged and follow up with as many respondents as possible.

 

Life ProTips– This subreddit is a great place to learn how to become smarter in life, and to make the most out of things efficiently. It offers tips from anything from personal finance, technology, down to child-minding tricks. But the tips listed here aren’t your regular common sense or common courtesy tips, they are more in line with how to calm a crying newborn or recover a stolen vehicle.

 

“Your people love being part of a community because
Some brands have such a deep resonance with customers that being associated with the brand is a way to assert personal identity.” (#EmissaryGuildCommunity)

How we managed to collect 85,000 email addresses in 3 months

Has email marketing hit its peak? It’s getting more and more difficult to get people’s attention and some may even be more hesitant to give out their emails lately due to security concerns raised in the media. But, just like in every other form of marketing, there are always ways to keep it exciting, stay relevant and make sure that your efforts have an impact.

As we learned, successful email marketing is about standing out from the crowd. How? Well, we used a combination of gamification and good, engaging content to collect and retain 85,000 email addresses in just 3 months – definitely worth the effort.

Gamification

Lots have been said about gamification, the bottom line is that it’s just a great motivator. We were able to collect emails on this basis, motivating people to sign up with their email address in order to participate in a game that could win them prizes and receive updates along the way.

This is a simple, but effective tool. People are more used to signing up for services with their email addresses than ever. Offering them the chance to win something in return adds a new layer of motivation and often makes them forget that they’re giving out their email address. Of course, they do so knowingly, but even as they fill out the email field, they’re probably thinking about the game and the prizes they might win.

There are all kinds of gamification methods to choose from. We went with a bounty program, offering users the opportunity to help us out with various tasks (posting to social media, reviewing code for bugs – that sort of thing) in return for all different kinds of rewards.

Relevant content

The second key that helped us keep our 85,000 subscribers interested is good content. Getting users to sign up is great; convincing them to stay subscribed and keeping them interested enough to read your emails is better. We were able to accomplish them by carefully planning who we were targeting and then producing content that we knew would interest them or teach them something – content that would offer some kind of added value.

Participants in our bounty programs, like most people, probably wouldn’t have responded very well to a bombardment of advertisements in their inbox. So we formed a more personal and intimate connection with them, offering content and discussion of their areas of interest.

Have any unique ideas of your own on how to make an email marketing campaign stand out from the crowd? Let us know.

#CommuniDay

Find and monitor the right channels – Everyone wants to reach the right audience. What’s the point of marketing your services and products if the only people who see your efforts are people who have no interest in them?

It used to be a physical location that mattered: sponsorship of the right event or a billboard in the right place. Today, you reach the right audience by finding and monitoring the right channels online. These locations will depend on your specific brand – and there may be several locations you’ll have to keep up with.

You should always be willing to meet people where conversations are happening. Go where there are! Is there a strong Reddit community discussing topics that are relevant to what you do or are most people interested in your brand Facebook users? This isn’t always easy to figure out, but it’s critical that you do.

Different kinds of people use different kinds of platforms, giving communities in each individual channel its own unique character. And don’t just look at the big ones like Twitter and LinkedIn! You could benefit tenfold by finding the right communities on lesser-known platforms.

Connecting to users through these channels serves several purposes, all of which result in the growth of your own audience. You’ll learn more about your industry and the people interested in it. You’ll also become a part of discussions that turn into opportunities for you – opportunities to establish yourself as a trusted figure, build an audience and eventually convert users into members of your very own community.

Doing so requires that you not only find out where conversations are happening, but also that you set up the proper tools to monitor them and improve them. Active communities contain a lot of posts and engagement. You want to follow as much of it as you can so you don’t miss the best opportunities. Being a constant presence will help you stand out.

 

Community management is an evolving field. Luckily, there are lots of communities around the web you can learn from and get help—whether you prefer Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

L.L. Bean– cool photos, videos, and tips for outdoor adventurers. They also include tabs dedicated to their events, open job opportunities, and to each of their most recent grand openings.

 

“Your people love being part of a community because they feel free to give feedback on existing products or submitting new ideas in order to improve”. (#EmissaryGuildCommunity)

Why community management is different from social media marketing

It’s an easy mistake ed in quite broad or very specific terms. For example, if you define social media marketing as any and all activities on social media that are designed to sell your brand and your product, it can easily be argued that community management should be included under that umbrella.

But it’s also possible, and probably best, to separate community management from social media marketing entirely to be more specific about exactly what you hope to achieve. While the two are closely connected, what really sets them apart from each other is the intention – two different ways of reaching a similar goal.

Social media marketing

This is where you leverage social media with the direct intention of selling your product or raising awareness of your brand. Activities that fall under social media marketing including advertising on various platforms or posting all about your product, why it’s so great and where to purchase it. Giveaway campaigns and interactive posts that encourage people to share your content organically would also fall under social media marketing.

As we’ll see, some of these activities can also be included in community management and you can often kill two birds with one stone in this way: raising brand awareness and making sales while growing your community. But community management contains at least one element that social media marketing does not.

Community management

This is where your thought process goes beyond making a sale. Though that is the inevitable result, it isn’t and shouldn’t be on your list of priorities when managing a community. This is what community management has that social media marketing doesn’t: posts and engagement that are designed to offer value beyond your product and build a community of people interested in the field you’re active in rather than making a direct sale.

The rule in community management is that 80% of your content should be focused on giving information and sparking debate while just 20% should be about you and your product. While you are sure to make plenty of conversions in this way, you also build a community of dedicated followers who believe in what you do and essentially act as your ambassadors – much more effective than a banner ad.

Odds are you’ll want to implement a bit of both into your outreach strategy and as we said, you can even do both at the same time. After all, that 20% of the content you post about you is basically social media marketing. But with a community of interested participants already in place, that marketing is set up to be far more effective than if people were hearing about you for the first time. What’s important is that you know the difference so you can plan carefully and properly organize your operations.

#CommuniDay

Define success – They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. That may be, but what if you have no idea what direction you’re walking in? Well, that first step and those thousand miles won’t have taken you anywhere – nowhere that you wanted to be at least. Before you take your first steps as a community manager, you need to have some idea of where you want to go and what success looks like.

None of us can foresee the future and small corrections in direction will inevitably need to be made as you gather experience and are informed by new facts. You may not know the specific coordinates for your destination, but you need to at least know what general direction you’re headed in. Get as specific and detailed as possible. Are you looking to increase your audience size, get people to engage more, build audience retention or something else?

Why is this so important? Because knowing where you’re headed will help you map out the best way to get there. And without a map to guide you, you’re likely to run into some immovable obstacles that will upset your progress and force you into long detours and lost time.
Take our advice, the best thing you can do is plan well. Get an image of success in your head. How does it look? How does it feel? What specifically have you accomplished to feel successful? Use all the best information at your disposal at the time to pick a realistic, yet ambitious goal and plot your way forward.

Knowing what it is you want to accomplish will give you a solid framework and help focus your efforts. This will help make your work more efficient and build a character for your brand as your community sees you move forward with inspired energy.

 

Community management is an evolving field. Luckily, there are lots of communities around the web you can learn from and get help—whether you prefer Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Buff Discord community If you are a gamer that’s the place for you! Anyone can find a channel to relate to- gaming chat, weekly giveaways, MVP testers and much more. There are always active and enthusiastic community members that love helping each other.

 

“Your people love being part of a community because they can share experiences and best practice with other customers, therefore creating a richer brand experience for them”.  (#EmissaryGuildCommunity)

Do communities create meaningful relationships?

Communities come with a strong set of benefits for the companies that maintain them. We discussed this more in depth in a previous article, Why you need to build a community and how to use it to reach your customers, but the short explanation is that community building is the most effective form of promotion and outreach in today’s market. Businesses become more human, more relatable in communities – and that’s exactly what’s needed to reach consumers these days.

Businesses may be able to link communities directly with increased sales and engagement, but business isn’t the only beneficiary of a strong community. Community members also get to enjoy certain perks. Communities turn a business or a product into a democracy of sorts (or at least more of one). Consumers come together to discuss the company, product or ideas behind and contribute to making all of these things better. Products become more fun, easier to use, more engaging and everything feels more human.

In real-life communities, however, communities don’t measure their strength by the effect they have on a product. No, communities are all about building meaningful relationships. Without this important element, communities allow consumers a few laughs here and there and bits of interesting information sometimes, but nothing to grab hold of and stick around for. So, the million-dollar question is, do brand communities actually create meaningful relationships?

Well… they certainly can under the right circumstances. Perhaps a better question is, how can brands build communities that foster meaningful relationships? Building a community isn’t easy work, but building a truly successful community – one that creates meaningful relationships between members who may start out as complete strangers – is far more difficult.

In order to build this kind of community, brands must have an unbreakable sense of identity. Take Harley Davidson, for example. The Harley Davidson brand doesn’t just sell cool-looking motorcycles and reach their audience by giving tips or where to get the cheapest gas. The company has established itself as representing a completely unique lifestyle and culture that doesn’t exist anywhere else. Buying a Harley isn’t just buying a motorcycle – it’s becoming a biker.

The Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.), otherwise known as “The World’s Greatest Motorcycle Riding Club”, is the community where Harley customers come together and where meaningful relationships are created all the time. Identifying with the Harley brand and lifestyle brings together total strangers and creates an instant bond between them – a point of interest that makes them trust one another and know they hold at least some similar thoughts and values. This manifests itself in real-world meetings between Harley owners and even long road trips together.

Which brings us to the next important point: Strictly online communities often don’t cut it in the long run. Online communities are great places for information and maybe a quick laugh. Meaningful relationships certainly can develop in these spaces, but the best way for brands to promote real connections is to push for as much offline action as possible. Otherwise, it’s mostly just a happy accident.

Most members of online communities are anonymous and/or hesitant to share too much of themselves with strangers they know too little about. That’s why Nike created its Nike Run Club, getting like-minded fitness enthusiasts together for runs in your local area and helpful coaching from ambassadors within the community. People meet and coordinate remotely, but get together and have the chance to form meaningful relationships with one another, in person.

Like we said, building a community of that caliber isn’t easy. Most of the companies that have done it either did so unintentionally or had the advantage of being a household name before even building a community. But it’s certainly an ideal that every business should be striving for. To grab consumers’ attention these days, you’ve got to offer them something of real value. A quality product is great – meaningful connections with others is even better.

And that’s the good news for businesses looking to build communities: people are looking for new ways to make these connections. The current inundation of online activity in everyday life has left a lot of people feeling that they lack a solid identity in a big wide world. Certain social norms have broken down and a lot of people want to find a place to meet new people and form meaningful connections. Brand communities can give that to them.

 

#CommuniDay

SEO and keywords – Building a community through personal outreach and engagement are necessary, but it’s a lot of work. Ideally, you want to reach a point where your community can experience some amount of organic growth without your direct involvement. You want people who share your interests to find you all on their own. That’s where SEO and keywords come in.

Smart implementation of SEO and keywords throughout your content is a superb engine of growth. Hopefully, you can establish yourself as an important figure for people who are already in your community, but SEO allows you to establish yourself in that role for the entire industry so that anyone searching for relevant information ends up in your sphere of influence.

SEO is like a slowly-growing snowball. You may not see results right away, but you should still start SEO work early. A webpage with no traffic won’t do very well on search engines no matter how many keywords you have strategically placed on it. But once you’ve brought some traffic to your blog or product page and generated activity there through your personal outreach methods, well-placed keywords will see to it that you search engine results will eventually start to expand your community.

The best part? You’ll already have put most of the work in and that extra growth will feel effortless. But good SEO isn’t easy at first. Keywords are about your audience as well as your content. After all, you might describe your service or product in a slightly different way than some people search for it. We recommend that you put in the work to carefully identify your target keywords. Make content that’s great for your community and you’ll have content others will want to click on when they find it on search engines.

 

Community management is an evolving field. Luckily, there are lots of communities around the web you can learn from and get help—whether you prefer Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

WordPress– This community and team oversee official events, mentorship programs, diversity initiatives, contributor outreach, and other ways of growing a strong community.

 

“Your people love being part of a community because they share a common interest in a certain device or brand”.
(#EmissaryGuildCommunity)

The 80/20 rule: Why just 20% of your social media content should be about your brand

It’s been a challenge adapting marketing and outreach to the digital age. Where once consumers could be effectively targeted with a well-placed billboard, the online world of social media has required a new model of marketing. Even when it’s online, impersonal, billboard-type ads just don’t cut it anymore – people increasingly need to be reached in their more intimate online spaces to make an impression.

And that’s what the 80/20 rule is all about. Let’s start with the fact that you’ve established a community (easily the most important marketing concept today and we’ve written about it before). You’ve got a few interested consumers who’ve joined in and are starting to create their own organic content, asking questions and starting discussions. Now you want to drive organic community growth and start making a few sales. What kind of content should you be posting?

20% – Discussion-based promotion

Well, don’t count on making too many sales right away. These things take time and momentum is sometimes slow to come. But you do want to raise brand awareness at the very least and establish your products and relevance to community members who share your interests. After all, what is your community for is no one in it knows who you are and what you do? The end goal is still to make your business a success; the community is an effective tool that just makes it more fun.

So, back to your content. About 20% of what you share with the community should be directly related to your brand – a sort of promotion or advertisement. But even this is different from the old style of advertising. Everything you share with your community should be discussion-based, something that will be of genuine interest to your potential customers. A good call to action usually does the trick. Mention your brand and/or products, but do so within the framework of useful statistics that will start a conversation or a timely discount.

There’s a good chance that your community has grown because of interest in the topic rather than an interest in your brand directly. Your goal with this sort of content should be to reach new community members to make them aware of who you are, remind old members of what you do and why they might find it useful and to drive further engagement and discussion that could bring in new community members.

80% – Creating value through information

One of the most important resources in the business world of today is attention. You need to capture it and retain it. Banner ads for your product and even interesting posts that focus on your brand aren’t going to get that job done. That’s why 80% of what you post to your social media should be of real value for consumers and community members.

Put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s never heard of you or your brand before. Even the best ad for your brand will probably be ignored because it’s just an ad like any other. But then you see an article, video, question or informative post about a topic that genuinely interests you and doesn’t mention a product or brand at all. It looks and feels genuine and organic – because it is.

That’s what this 80% is all about. Post content that’s useful to people and establishes yourself as an important figure in that field so that people will trust you, follow you and want to engage within your community. As long as your brand and products are somehow connected to that area of interest, the 20% of your content that refers to your business will then do the work of converting these newcomers into customers.

Attention may be hard to grab these days, but it’s definitely doable. To perform the 80/20 split effectively, make sure you are compartmentalizing and targeting a very specific community with very specific interests. Focus on providing value and grabbing the attention of one group of people before expanding to others. You can take these even further by breaking down your overall target audience into subcategories and asking yourself for every post: what sub-community within my larger community does this target?

The 80/20 rule is about meeting your customers where they are. If all they see is a brand trying to sell itself, get ready for the cold shoulder. This is what makes marketing and community management art forms, full of nuance and subtlety. Follow the 80/20 framework and success is on the horizon.

#CommuniDay

Not everything is about business – We all know you have to make ends meet at the very least. And what’s the point of having a business if you aren’t aiming for healthy profits and growth? But Ironically, to meet that end, it’s best if you worry less about the business side of things and focus on engagement with a strong community. Even if you have a global, online or digital community, engaging with its members fires up your brand early on in the community-building process.

Patiently reaching out to people brings you several advantages that will directly lead to stable profits in the future. It’s always a good idea to collect more perspectives for a better understanding of any given topic. Meeting people has a beneficial impact on one’s ability to come up with creative ideas, finding solutions, as well as to simply finding new partnership opportunities.

This also gives you a chance to let people know you — the person behind the software, app or service. They’ll be quicker to engage with your brand because they are willing to work with you. Now you’re beginning to form the backbone of your customer base – the loyal customers who will trust you enough to buy your product and share it with others.

Once you’ve established this kind of base, greater success is only a matter of time, partly because these community members will be your best ambassadors and unwitting salespeople. And it’s all because you eliminated the distance between business and customer at the outset and fostered a community of people who care about your brand and product before actively trying to sell it to them.

 

Superstar SEO– Was founded by SEO expert Chris M. Walker. If you offer SEO services or are looking to improve your SEO efforts, this is one of the best Facebook groups for you.

 

“Your people love being part of a community because they will get the most recent discounts, special offers, early notification of sales and new updates”. (#EmissaryGuildCommunity)

Essential tools and websites for community management

No job is possible without the right tools and that’s especially true for community management, where a large load of diverse tasks requires superhuman levels of the organization. Not all of the tools you’ll use as a community manager are necessarily meant for community managers, but community managers use them all in unique ways to get the job done.

Analytics

A high-powered analytics tool is an absolute must as a community manager. Without it, how would you know what’s working, what’s not and why? How would you pick up on mentions of your brand across the internet and identify opportunities to engage your audience and pick up new community members?

Google Analytics is the industry standard. There’s a bit of a learning curve involved, but once you’re there, this sophisticated tool will give you unprecedented insight into your performance and how it can be improved.

Social media

A large part of building your own community is reaching out to and joining existing communities – and a lot of that happens on social media platforms. Sure, there are the usual suspects like Facebook and Twitter, but honestly, it’s getting harder and harder to reach audiences there these days.

That’s why we recommend less traditional outlets like Quora and Reddit. Outreach strategy on these platforms has to be less formal and requires that your break out of the marketing mindset. In fact, you could even say that this is where you really test your mindset as a community manager vs. a marketer or salesman. But the payoff is well worth it.

Organize yourself

There’s a lot to keep track of as a community manager. But don’t let yourself get too overwhelmed. There are lots and lots of solutions out there to improve your organization and make sure that you are fulfilling your potential.

Google Drive is a no-brainer, a great place not only to store all your documents in an organized manner but also to collaborate on documents with others in real time. Use something like Trello to organize your tasks, assign them to the right people and track their progress and development.

Bonus tools

Other important tools include things like Grammarly, which helps keep spelling mistakes in check. This one is crucial, especially if English isn’t your first language. There’s no reason to feel bad about it – just use the tool and your writing will improve while you reduce mistakes and appear more and more professional.

For all those viral graphics you’ll want to put out there, use Pablo by Buffer, a solid tool that lets you simply put text over a photo background.

Don’t let the overwhelming amount of work you’ve got on your plate discourage you. That’s what these kinds of tools are for.