Online communities have been around since the dawn of the internet, but they’ve been getting a lot more attention over the years. This isn’t surprising when you consider that 1.8 billion people now use Facebook Groups, the largest and most popular platform for community building. The importance of managing and harnessing these communities has become so valuable that even an entire career path – the role of the Community Manager – was born.
But when you break it down, what actually is community management? Is it different from social media management? And why is it an important element to consider for your business? Here’s the things you need to know…
What is community management?
Hubspot defines community management as:
“The process of building an authentic community among a business’s customers, employees, and partners… it’s how a brand uses opportunities to interact with their audience to create a network in which they can connect, share, and grow.”
By definition then, community management isn’t synonymous with social media management. However, with the social media platforms themselves becoming evermore centred around community building, and the success of community-led marketing strategies speaking for itself, the most obvious place to build and manage communities right now is on social media. Hence community managers often work as part of brands’ broader social media marketing teams.
While social media marketing involves creating and sharing social media content to reach new customers and communicate with your existing ones, it’s not effective without community management. I would even go as far as to say:
The future of social media management is community management.
What do community managers do?
You don’t have to be a community manager by profession to do community management. Small business owners, creators and smaller social media marketing teams that don’t have a dedicated community manager all undertake community management in order to successfully build and maintain their online communities.
Community management is beyond just social media content creation and publishing; it involves elements of customer service, social listening, and active engagement with followers of your brand.
Facebook’s Avani Parekh says that community managers “determine and set into place the strategies needed to build, scale and support communities”. Whether managing a community on behalf of a brand or a non-profit, Avani believes that having a community manager that is skilled in best practices is an important part of building and maintaining a community that enhances connections and meets an organisation’s goals and objectives.
“If you’re able to bring people together, collect insights and data, share resources, you are unstoppable. In the economy of attention, harnessing the power of voice and validation gives you incredible power.” – Avani Parekh
Why is it important?
There are many reasons why community management is not only important, but an essential ingredient of your business’ digital strategy. Here’s 4 key reasons to get cracking with your community management right now:
1. It’s where your customers are
An important part of community management is customer service and brand maintenance, and to do this effectively you have to be immersed in the community your brand is serving. More than half of the world’s population are now social media users, and many of these people use it specifically to engage with businesses – 90% of Instagram users follow a business and 93% of Twitter community members are open to brands getting involved in conversations, such as providing help and support. Plus, 64% of people would rather message a business than call them with a complaint, and Forrester predicts that digital customer service interactions will increase by 40% in 2021. Community management does not only involve addressing customer service queries and potentially negative comments about your brand, but also actively maintaining a positive brand image by engaging with customers in a human-to-human way.
2. It builds trust in your brand
The importance of community management comes hand in hand with the increased importance of brand trustworthiness and customers’ search for moral alignment. Research shows that the traditional, transactional business-to-customer relationship is changing rapidly. People are now far more likely to buy from brands that align with their personal values over brands that don’t align or just lack that personal touch. With effective community management, you’ll not only be able to gage what your customers do and don’t care about, but also ensure you are building a trusting relationship that leads to loyal, returning customers.
3. It increases your sales
Speaking of returning customers, we all know that a loyal brand community is the key to maintaining steady sales. But community management can also lead to a big increase in sales, especially if you’re offering the kind of customer service and one-to-one care that your competitors are not. 60% of internet users say bad customer service is a concern when making an online purchase, so if you have a positive, active presence in your social media community, new customers are far more likely to buy from you too.
4. It keeps your brand relevant
Community management is also about keeping your brand relevant. We’ve all bore witness to a piece of pre-scheduled social media content surfacing at a less than desirable, even inappropriate time.
Reckon this Tweet was scheduled before the tournament and someone reset the password ? https://t.co/NGXiQukjh6
— DP. #7in7 (@pepperds) July 13, 2021
And while scheduling content in bulk is certainly useful – and quite frankly essential – for social media teams to stay on top of their workload, that real-time, relevant content and engagement with trending topics and industry news is just as essential.
Community management is the process of building an authentic community. It’s how a brand uses opportunities to interact with their audience to create a network in which they can connect, share, and grow
Small business owners, solo creators and smaller social media marketing teams that don’t have a dedicated community manager should all undertake community management in order to successfully build and maintain their online communities
There are many reasons why community management is not only important, but an essential ingredient of your business’ digital strategy
Community management can help your brand connect with customers by finding out what they do and don’t care about, building trust, and staying relevant