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Does Your Company Need a Community Manager?
In today’s increasingly technology-focused world, social media is fast establishing itself as an integral part of a company’s marketing strategy. With consumers of all products and services spending a significant amount of time on the internet, it is becoming increasingly important for companies and businesses to maintain a brand presence online – situating themselves where many of their customers and clients “hang out”. However for SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and SMBs (small and medium businesses) whose budgets for traditional marketing tools and strategies are already stretched, investing in social media marketing may seem like an excess of both time and money they cannot afford.
While the day-to-day management of your small business, company or enterprise is likely and understandably at the forefront of your schedule, there are many advantages to incorporating a digital marketing campaign into your company’s operations strategy. Whether you hire a specialist online community manager, designate an appropriate candidate in-house or split the tasks among several employees, doing digital marketing right could bring you significantly closer to achieving your company’s aims and objectives. The following is an insight into the relatively new role of the community manager, including some tips for small businesses looking to quickly and effectively incorporate social media and digital marketing into their company’s daily activities.
What is a Community Manager?
So, what is a community manager? When applied to the digital marketing world, a community manager (CM) is one who acts as the online ambassador of a company or brand in the same way a public relations (PR) officer acts as an offline brand ambassador. From posting updates and engaging with followers to handling customer complaints, the online community manager is responsible for the building, growth, monitoring, maintenance and management of often multiple online communities related to the brand, business, company or cause. These communities can be found across a company’s social media pages – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr are currently the most popular – on their on-site forums and blog posts, and as comments on the company’s visual content, such as videos and pictures.
Does My Company Need a Community Manager?
If you’re an SME or SMB, taking advantage of social media as a marketing tool can be beneficial for many reasons; it is inexpensive, powerful, creates brand loyalty and fosters genuine relationships between your company and your customers or clients. However, developing traction for your brand and developing the outreach needed to meaningfully connect with your followers and other industry-related websites will take time, resources and considerable effort.
Assigning a dedicated member of staff to the upkeep of your social media channels can ensure you maintain a reliable social media presence, and a consistent digital marketing strategy. If any of the bullet points below apply to you, it may be time to start thinking about adding a community manager to your payroll:
- My company/business has a presence on social networks and people are “following”, “liking” or “subscribing” to those pages.
- I want a convenient and easy way to reward and offer incentives to loyal customers and clients.
- I want to better understand and communicate with my target audience.
- I want a cheaper and faster way to carry out research and development relating to my target audience.
- I want to provide brilliant customer service and a way of streamlining complaints/comments procedures.
- I want my business to be present for customer and client comments at all hours, but without using costly call centres.
- I want my customers/clients to be able to communicate with each other – they could, for example, help each other with any issues/problems/questions they may have relating to my company.
- Some of my business goals can be accomplished more easily through online rather than offline interaction.
- I want to expand brand awareness to different parts of the country/to different countries across the world.
- My company will benefit from the roles and responsibilities of a community manager, as outlined below.
What Does A Community Manager Do?
As it is a fairly new and continually evolving profession, it can be difficult to conceptualise what a community manager does (it certainly includes far more than tweeting and posting on Facebook). Nonetheless, there are several key roles and responsibilities a CM fulfils, and several ways they can benefit your small company or business. These include:
Ambassador: acting as liaison between the public (i.e. consumers, customers and clients) and the company or brand, the CM ensures genuine, consistent and in-depth relationships between your audience (or target market) and your organization. As the voice of the brand, the CM will be passionate about the brand and can find and take advantage of opportunities for community engagement and support.
Analyst: using social media analytics tools and analysing metrics such as website traffic, tracking links, conversions, posts/comment ratios, leads and revenue, the CM gathers specific and accurate information about your audience and about what works and what doesn’t in order to make informed and audience-focused decisions and actions. The CM can also help inform wider marketing decisions and recommend the most popular type of content that would best engage with a specific target market. This informed social content works much better at engaging with your community, as your comments and content will feel more personal and relevant.
Customer service representative: the role of a CM can also include customer service, addressing concerns, grievances and complaints made via social media channels. This also includes traversing blogs and other external sites to find conversations happening around your brand and industry. Social media is conversational, and an effective CM will find what your most outspoken customers have to say (their opinions, praises and frustrations) in order to analyse and positively act upon those views.
Organised multi-tasker: the CM is able to organise and manage several groups or types of target audience, multiple platforms and channels and multiple communication methods, tools and schedules, all the while upholding your company’s mission, aims and objectives. They are able to create and maintain a regular editorial schedule, which is important for building credibility and a reputation for consistency within your communities. The CM also keeps up to date with internal product and service changes and is able to quickly translate these changes to their online marketing strategy. And, while busy creating an effective strategy, the CM may also act as customer service support dealing with customer enquiries, and as marketing support, influencing traditional marketing decisions.
Diplomat: the CM participates intelligently in community conversations, with an assertive presence but also with grace and humility – they are not afraid to be proved wrong on topics of conversation but will step in if they feel the community needs intervention. As the highest authority in social media channels, the CM may hire a Moderator or Forum Administrator (typically from within the established community) to assist in this capacity. The CM will effectively monitor the huge volumes of information coming through the various channels, finding prevailing trends and opinions in order to detect business opportunities or any problems/issues that may negatively impact the business.
Social media expert: the CM will post the company’s content on their social media channels, post relevant content by competitors and leading industry figures, and may also post comments and responses on the social media pages of their audiences and/or competitors. They are also able to forge connections with other business owners and leading industry figures, perhaps arrange guest blog post exchanges or sales partnerships.
Communicator: the CM will have impressive people skills and is able to network with people both online and offline, as well as effectively communicate the company’s message to the audience with ease, regardless of the form of the content (this could include blog posts, guest articles, e-books, white papers, emails, proposals, and other social content). The CM must also be able to sift through all the content coming out of an organization and determine what, when and how to best share this content for maximum effect.
Empathetic community leader: as audiences will turn away if you concentrate solely on your own content in your social media channels, the CM will post relevant content from competitors and other industry figures. With a firm grasp of the individual perspectives of key community members, the CM is able to create an environment conducive to facilitating conversations between community members, so they provide much of the online activity without too much direct participation from the company/CM themselves. This could even lead to passionate community members championing your brand/company on their own channels and to their own networks.
Digital Marketing Tips for Small Businesses
If you’re interested in incorporating digital marketing into your company’s overall strategy but are concerned about the immense commitment it takes to do so well, there may be some avenues you could explore to achieve considerable results without the extra expense or time expenditure:
- Hire and train a recent graduate: take advantage of technology-savvy millennials by hiring and training a recent graduate to become a community management intern. They usually command a lower salary but have a good awareness of most social media platforms. That said, make sure the graduate gets to know your company well, including your history, products, aims and objectives.
- Hire a part-time employee: hiring a regular part-time employee who can help manage your brand’s web presence can be a cost-effective way of ensuring your community manager is reliable, consistent and fully informed about your company.
- Pick an internal employee: take a look at the abilities, knowledge, skills and aspirations of your current employees and consider whether you can free up their schedule so they spend at least 5-10 hours a week (or even 15 minutes per day if you’re really stretched) on managing your social media channels.
- Set clear goals: work with your community manager to set realist goals and expectations regarding your social media and digital marketing strategies (for example, gaining a certain number of followers by the end of one quarter). Make sure to meet regularly with your community manager so they get a chance to report back on those goals.
- Define your brand: figure out what your company’s personality, style and tone are and make sure to stick to this “branding” across all your social media channels and in all online and offline print and products. This will make you distinctive and familiar wherever you are found by your audience.
- Score endorsement from a celebrity: a mention of your brand, company, products or initiatives by a well-known public figure can propel your company/business into the forefront of your target audience’s social media feeds. As a small business, you may try getting endorsed by a local celebrity by contacting them and asking for their honest feedback on a product or service you offer.
- Target niche blogs: getting your content published on niche blogs, or getting niche bloggers to guest-blog on your own channels can be a great way of reaching a wider audience, and establishing yourself as experts in your field. Keep in mind that this only works in a reciprocal relationship – make sure you have something to offer the blogger in exchange for their contribution.
To get more information on how small businesses can set up a social media or digital marketing strategy, or if you would like a professional team to manage your social media communities, contact Bough Digital or check out our social media packages.