In today’s highly digital and connected society, it’s funny to think people can still feel disconnected from others. With so many people who communicate on the net, behind screens, this connected world can actually feel rather lonely at times.
This goes for personal relationships as well as business relationships — specifically between brands and their customers as well as brands and their employees.
So , what is it that has people feeling a disconnect from others and the companies they do business with?
Too little community .
A residential area provides people with an atmosphere of belonging and a network of other people they can connect with based on their shared interests and/ or characteristics. And that’s why so many brands today are beginning to purchase the creation of communities for their customers, employees, and fans — as part of an activity called community management .
Businesses build communities — or implement community management tactics at their organizations — to build authentic relationships among their external audience (their customers, fans, and followers) and their internal audience (employees, vendors, partners, and team members).
When businesses invest in community management, they transition from an everyday brand to a human brand — one that cares deeply about the people who support them, work for them, and interact with them.
What is the purpose of community management?
Community management has become increasingly popular and recognized by all types of businesses — however , it’s still largely undefined.
So , what makes it so special? Why should your business adopt it? To answer those questions, let’s cover some of the main reasons why community management is critical to your success as a brand today.
“Brands need to hire community managers because they are the tone, voice, and human element behind your brand, ” said Krystal Wu, former social networking community manager at HubSpot.
Community management allows your company to:
- Obtain feedback and gather some ideas from your customers and audience members through real conversations.
- Provide support for audience members, fans, and customers if they need it.
- Increase brand and product awareness among your target audience.
- Learn about your customers and what they want, expect, and need in terms of content, products, services, and support.
- Build one-on-one and one-to-many relationships between audience members and your brand.
- Boost customer interactions, conversions, and sales.
- Provide value to your visitors beyond a product or service.
It is vital to note community management is a broad industry — these are just some of the things community management allows your business to do.
Additionally , community management is an umbrella term, meaning there are many forms of community management that live beneath it. Let’s review those types of community management to help you determine which one(s) you’d like to concentrate on at your company.
Community Management SPACE Model
The SPACE Model represents different types of community management — this way, you will get a better understanding of which options will work for your preferences. Let’s take a look.
Important note: This section is an breakdown of just six of the numerous types of community management. We’ve also provided a couple examples of each.
S: Customer Support/ Success
The first type of community management is support and success. There are some simple ways to think of customer support and success in terms of community management — a forum, FAQ document, and community website.
A forum is just a question and answer, community-based discussion board focused on customer service and support. It’s a great way to get in touch your community. With a forum, your web visitors can chat with one another, ask each other questions, provide you with feedback, or strike up a discussion regarding a brand new product or service.
On the forum, you may provide your community members with usage of your FAQ document so they can self-help and obtain quick answers to commonly-asked questions.
You’ll also be able to see who’s writing what so you can intervene and offer assistance if needed. This keeps things straightforward for your community members and also prevents your team from having to take the time to answer the same questions over and over again.
With a person success platform or software, you can develop a branded website or landing page for your community members that’s centered on supporting your customers.
Here, your customers will help themselves (and each other), communicate with members of your team, locate any resources they want (such as your knowledge base), and review your FAQ document.
A terrific way to create and manage your company’s discussion board, your FAQ document, site, or page is with the help of pc software like Vanilla Forms. You can customize the whole site to match your branding, write and manage your forum and FAQ documents, and even ask for your customers to offer ideas and approaches to innovate your products and services to better meet their needs.
This sort of community management is great for companies that have an in-depth product line — just like a software company — so users can communicate with each other about tips, tricks, and issues they may run into during use.
One of HubSpot’s support communities is our Developer Forum for those looking to build on the software. This keeps developers connected to the organization, others in the same position, and resources they can use while working on the platform.
P: Product Ideation, Innovation, and Feedback
Product ideation, innovation, and feedback is both a proactive and reactive kind of community management. It requires you to create a safe space where your customers and target audience can share their feedback and thoughts in regards to the ways you can innovate and improve your products and services.
You can ask your community members to accomplish surveys or be involved in in-person feedback discussions you lead. There’s also many other types of user testing that your audience and customers usually takes part in if you organize them.
For example , you might host a focus group with ten real customers at your workplace to learn about the ways they believe you can enhance your product or service once they use and/ or experience it.
This type of community management is ideal for most organizations — asking for feedback from real clients and members of these target audience on how they can innovate their products is a critical part of the success of virtually every business.
A: Acquisition and Advocacy
Acquisition and advocacy is a different type of community management. This form of community management allows you to directly with the people who are most excited about your business including your leads, customers, brand ambassadors, and brand advocates.
These community members allow you to build brand awareness and promote your organization, products, and services through various methods such as word-of-mouth, affiliate programs, and social media.
A common solution to create a community for these (very important) people is through an acquisition and advocacy program such as a brand ambassador initiative. Let us look at a good example.
The Skimm has a brand ambassador program for any user who gets ten people to sign up for the media company’s content. Once they’ve done so , they turn into a “Skimm’bassador. ”
These brand ambassadors and advocates help The Skimm acquire new consumers and readers. They also become members of the Skimm’bassador community by which they receive swag and gain access to internal events, company headquarters, and parties.
Additionally , they’re able to connect and communicate with the city of Skimm employees and other Skimm’bassadors and offer The Skimm with feedback on how they could continue to grow and improve.
This kind of community management is fantastic if you want to delight your very best customers by keeping them at the middle of your flywheel, promote brand loyalty, increase brand awareness, and build long-lasting relationships with your biggest supporters.
C: Content and Programming
Another type of community management involves the creation of content and programming for your members — such as your web visitors, fans, followers, or employees. Your content and programming might include marketplaces, crowdfunding, user groups, and user-generated content.
It is a great option for companies with contributed content at the core of their services and products, business model, and other assets. For example , for companies like GoFundMe and Airbnb, their value is created by the folks who join their sites and use their platforms to share with you fundraisers or rental properties.
These kind of companies typically have community teams who work to ensure all community-generated content is appropriate, follows company guidelines, and meets the requirements of the site.
HubSpot’s Instagram page — it’s a highly interactive and engaging space that promotes brand awareness all while creating a community of followers with a similar interest (HubSpot).
HubSpot’s social media community managers ensure every single person who interacts with a post is noticed and treated like a human — not just a number. Followers are able to build relationships HubSpot, the branded content that’s shared on the page, and their fellow followers.
This kind of external engagement is great for companies looking to improve brand awareness while creating one-on-one and one-to-many relationships with fans, customers, and followers of all kinds.
Virtually any company has the ability to create an external engagement community management with the help of social media.
(I): Internal Engagement
Last but most certainly not least, there’s internal engagement community management. Organizations today are learning the value of creating strong communities internally — among their employees, partners, vendors, and suppliers.
Strengthening these internal relationships creates a sense of belonging and allows visitors to find others to recognize with, which, in turn, boosts company morale and overall happiness.
For example , many companies, including HubSpot, use platforms like Slack, which has features, like channels, to boost internal engagement and communication.
This feature also helps build a sense of community through categories of employees (remote and in office) with common interests and positions at the organization.
This type of community management brings your internal contributors together, connects them with like-minded individuals, and creates a sense of belonging, support, camaraderie, and inclusion at work.
This helps them better serve your company by boosting their knowledge of your products and improves their happiness and retention rates.
Nearly every business can take part in this type of community management as it only requires community building within the office space and may include software you already have (like Slack) or the forming of interest groups among your fellow employees.
So , you’ve reviewed the main kinds of community management and how they can add value to your organization. Now, let’s cover the ways you can actually get started building a community management strategy to help you start reaping its benefits.
external engagement strategy (which we defined earlier), specifically through social networking .
– Choose a social media channel.
The first thing you need to do is pick the social media channel which you’ll manage your community.
Think about your target audience’s demographics to determine the best option for the company — for instance , you might choose to focus your efforts on Snapchat if you have a young audience, Instagram if you’re going for a broad target audience, or LinkedIn if you’re targeting a more professional crowd.
Other examples of platforms you might consider building and managing your community on include Facebook, Youtube, and Pinterest.
Learn everything you need to increase engagement with a social media checklist.
2 . Identify your audience.
Once you’ve chosen a social media channel, identify your audience on that platform.
Using this method, you’ll be able to see the kind of content your target audience interacts with on the specific platform, what they like and expect from the brands similar to yours they already follow, and who they currently engage with.
This research and information will allow you to begin thinking about how you will tailor the content your company creates to your target audience and your plumped for platform.
3. Ask your audience what type of content they want to see.
As well as identifying your audience, you should also ask your audience what they want to see to make sure you’re creating and pushing out content that’s relevant to them.
This will ensure you’re going to be able to achieve your audience with social media marketing content they want and are interested in.
Requesting this feedback and being open to suggestions also shows your audience you care deeply about their opinions and what they have to say — this will help you enhance your brand loyalty and advocacy, and create valuable interaction in your community (versus a one-way platform).
4. Determine how you’ll identify your success.
Now it’s time to ascertain how you’ll identify your success. There is no right or wrong answer here — this is completely centered on what matters to you and your company. Ask yourself, “what’s ideal for my brand? ”
Here are some examples of success identifiers you might elect to focus on:
- Boost in audience members/ increase in followers
- Number of conversation participants in a live chat or discussion
- Amount of content shared or well-liked by your followers
- Overall engagement (likes, shares, mentions, hashtags, messages, comments)
- Increase in brand awareness
- Increase in customer care and retention
- Traffic that’s directed to your website
- Boost in your sales and conversions
(We’ll review tips on how to measure your community management success identifiers and metrics fleetingly. )
5. Set goals.
Like most things in business, setting attainable goals, as well as stretch goals, is crucial when attempting to achieve your various objectives and measure your success.
Nevertheless , if you’re developing a new strategy or if you’ve never set goals like the ones you will need to make for your social networking community management strategy, this task might seem such as a difficult one.
To get started, try running an experiment or two after you’ve determined how you plan on measuring your success.
For example , if you’ve decided that you’re going to measure your success during your overall engagement on the social media platform, you can run an engagement experiment. Try keeping track of all engagement related to the content you produce and share on the social platform for a certain amount of time you’ve chosen (maybe 4-8 weeks to start).
When the experiment has come to an end, average out your overall engagement (likes, shares, comments, mentions, hashtags, messages, etc . ) and then use that number to create an attainable goal — and stretch goal in the event that you choose — for the engagement over the next 4-8 weeks, and so on.
You are able to always update these numbers as time goes on so when you begin collecting more data.
Throughout your experiment, you can also A/B test different content to see what your followers like the best and choose to interact with most.
6. Post regularly and build relationships your audience.
Success on social networking requires consistency in terms of your frequency of posts and engagement. You should determine how usually you’re going to post on social media and adhere to that plan which means that your audience members know you’re reliable and start to expect to see your content — you’ll train them to look for your latest posts.
Social media is a good way to develop close bonds and relationships among your brand and audience. Show your customers and followers they aren’t only a number and they’re heard by your company and employees.
“Like” their comments and respond to all questions, comments or concerns (even the positive comments that warrant a “Thank you! ” or “Yay! We’re so happy you’re enjoying our free CRM! “).
You can even follow back your biggest brand advocates — if you deem it as appropriate — or interact with the content your followers share (whether or maybe not it has a direct tie to your company) to show your support.
Regardless of how you choose to interact and engage with your followers, remember to be authentic and address each person as an individual. Social media isn’t a forum, so there really should not be any canned responses you use for your social followers.
By maintaining an authentic voice and presence on social media, your brand will have a unique, human element behind it that feels trustworthy and personal to customers and community members.
Social listening could be the process of monitoring your social media accounts to consider and keep track of all mentions, customer feedback, key words, and discussions linked to your brand, products and services, services, and clients (even your competitors, too). You then take a deeper look at many of these things to analyze them and gain insight into what’s working for your customers and followers, and what must be modified.
Community Managers: How They could Help Your Business Grow
If your organization has the resources, you should consider hiring a community manager (or even a team of managers) to help you kickstart your efforts and community.
Just what is a community manager?
Community managers run your community management efforts. Depending on the kind of community management you chose to incorporate at your company, you might require the assistance of several community managers with entirely different focuses.
However , there are some universal traits shared by almost every community manager, no matter their role in the field. Generally speaking, a community manager:
- Has the ability to lead your community development and growth efforts.
- Is highly customer-focused.
- Can empathize with their members on forums, throughout in-person meetings, on social channels, on community platforms, and much more.
- Knows how and when to show empathy.
- Is an authentic and detail-oriented person.
- Can analyze and measure community management efforts and results.
- Understands who you are as a brand and carries that image and voice — together with your marketing efforts — over to your community management strategy.
To bring us back again to our previous exemplory instance of external engagement community strategy, let’s review the specific in-depth tasks of a social media marketing manager.
What is the role of a community manager?
A social media community manager:
- Maintains the voice of the brand in all posts and interactions.
- Ensures all content being shared has a purpose and meets the expectations and needs of followers and the mark audience.
- Schedules, posts, and engages on all social content.
- Creates, manages, and follows up with all contests, giveaways, and promotions on social.
- Ensures community rules and instructions are being followed by all community members.
- Measures results of all content and work on social (and makes modifications when necessary).
- Keeps up with industry trends and updates made to the platform accessible.
- Knows what audience members want and need out from the shared social content.
- Is authentic and knows when to say, “Thank you”, “We’re sorry”, and “We support you”.
- Creates a safe space for followers and members to ask questions, get help, feel supported, share some ideas, provide feedback, and solve problems.
Where to Find a Community Manager
1 . Community Club
Searching for all things community management? Community Club is the place to go.
With over 1, 000 members, it caters to just about everyone who’s interested in the field — from community managers looking to network to brands seeking to hire community management experts.
2 . CMX Hub
CMX Hub is definitely an online platform that serves community builders looking to grow inside their careers.
On the networking side, the platform offers networking, education, and mentorship opportunities for aspiring and thriving community managers.
On the hiring side, brands can post job openings on their job board. Because it’s a designated job board for all things community management, businesses can more easily find someone whose qualifications align with the role.
If you’re looking to hire a community manager or join a community management group, LinkedIn is a great place to start.
On LinkedIn, you can easily find local and global community managers who are open for work opportunities. If you’re interested in becoming a community manager, you can visit user profiles to see what road other community managers took to get where they are today.
If you’re interested in a community management group, there’s also hundreds of LinkedIn Groups that serve that exact purpose. In them, community managers discuss updates in the industry, share advice, and even job opportunities.
4. Facebook Groups
On Facebook, you will discover hundreds of community management groups, each offering something different.
Some Groups are location-based, connecting community managers in specific states, cities, or regions while others are industry-specific.
Most of them allow community managers to network and discover new opportunities.
Looking to hire a community manager on a contract or freelance basis? Consider Upwork.
On the freelancing platform, you can develop a job post that outlines the project you’re hiring for and the qualifications you need.
what we reviewed about the importance of authenticity, maintaining your brand’s voice at all times is critical in terms of community management. It is a large part of why is your community unique as well as ensures your community is identifiable to your members and audience.
No matter how many folks are working in your community, make sure they understand your brand voice so they can help you maintain it throughout all interactions, engagement, and content.
One method to make this a simpler process is by tying your community back to your company’s marketing goals and/ or collaborating with your marketing department. It’ll keep your messaging and interactions focused in addition to push you to sustain your brand voice.
7. Explore new ways to engage your community.
You always want to be engaging your community — but what happens if there are changes in your industry, your company’s products or services are drastically updated, or your members request new types of content?
To keep your community up to date, always explore new approaches to engage your members, whether that’s online or in-person (depending on your type of community). You can also engage members as soon as they join to continue learning about your audience, what they want from you, and what made them join your community — this will also help you learn about new ways to interact with them.
At this point, you may well be wondering how to get all this work started — where to begin with your community management strategy efforts at your company if you haven’t done any work related to the field before.
A common first step companies take when spearheading their community management plan and strategy is to determine whether or not they want to hire a community manager.
Whew! That was a lot of information — but, you should now have a better knowledge of why community management is so important, how it can help your business grow, and how you can get started on your business’s strategy.
Start Building Your Community
Community management is a new, yet powerful, industry. By implementing a residential district management strategy at your company, you’ll be able to develop a safe place for your customers, fans, employees, and followers to collaborate, provide you with feedback, bond, and learn.
This will allow you to build brand loyalty, increase conversions and sales, and show the people who matter most to your success a human side to your brand that they can connect with.
So , get going by reviewing your choices for types of community management to incorporate at your company, developing a strategy, and determining whether a community manager may be the next hire you’ll need to make.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.