Community management is an exercise in public relations, brand promotion, customer service and client retention. It is the most organic way to engage your audience, facilitate conversation, inspire customer loyalty and shape public perception of your brand. It is also the easiest way to burn bridges and take your reputation down with them.
Welcome to the first chapter of our limited edition Picos article series Social Media Marketing for Dummies. We’re starting this trilogy off with a focus on community management because it’s cost-effective, intuitive and critical to your marketing strategy. It’s also the most human element of your brand.
Answers to the Questions you felt too Awkward to Ask
Sliding into people’s ‘DMs’, using Story effects and creating social media Highlights doesn’t come intuitively to everyone. When it comes to adjusting to new features and speaking languages specific to each platform, it can be exhausting trying to keep up. At Picos, we recognise that community management isn’t for everyone. But, it is for every business. For this reason, we’re going to address the questions you felt too awkward to ask, because in reality, we all had to ask them at some point.
1. What is community management?
Good question. It involves daily engagement with followers, reaching out to potential customers and handling concerns as they arise. Diligence, consistency and reputation management are key to this process to ensure that every channel of communication streamlines your brand identity.
2. Are negative comments time-sensitive?
You’re likely to have an angry commenter frequent your page every now and then. When this happens, you have a time-sensitive window of opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to quality customer service and to show your community that you value their feedback. Get back to them as soon as possible to de-escalate tension and reassure them of your support. As with the fundamentals of public relations, always express empathy and understanding. Avoid deflecting blame at all costs.
3. When dealing with a difficult customer, do I have to reply to them?
If you show an unhappy customer some tender loving care, you can convert them into happy campers. This is a unique opportunity to mend your relationship and build a better one for the sake of your brand and customer retention. Nothing frustrates a customer quite like being left on ‘read’ after messaging privately or leaving a comment. Get back to them as soon as you see their message and come across like a human, not a robot. Don’t leave comments unanswered because this looks like negligence or indifference to other community members.
4. But what about Emoji comments? Do I still have to reply to those?
When followers comment on your posts, think of it like a high-five. Don’t leave them hanging. Even a comment as basic as an emoji should elicit a response from you. This shows your customers that you appreciate them and encourages future engagement. In the same breath, supporting other brands in your industry creates opportunities for future collaboration. Show them some love and let them know you’re around.
5. Do I have to keep my language clean? Or can I make things more casual?
The general rule of thumb is to keep your language as neutral as possible. When in doubt, be Switzerland and imagine your grandmother is reading every post. You don’t want to risk alienating current and potential customers by using language that makes them feel uncomfortable. Your brand’s identity might be casual, cool and accessible – but using colourful language is, more often than not, a risky move.
6. Politics: can I go there?
If there’s anything we’ve learned from our experience communicating with audiences online, it’s that they are all very different. Unless you’re a political authority or not-for-profit organisation that deals with everyday politics, divisive conversations detract from the reason you brought your followers together in the first place. As a community manager, your role is to create an accommodating and safe space for people from all walks of life. You want to avoid alienating customers or facilitating conversations that can get ugly at all cost.
7. How professional does my writing need to be? Are spelling mistakes that big a deal?
We all make mistakes… but brands shouldn’t. If you’ve got posts or comments online with poor spelling or diction, go back and edit them. Otherwise, your customers will interpret this oversight as an indication of incompetence or a lack of professionalism. When in doubt, Grammarly.
8. To selfie, or not to selfie?
Providing a human face to your brand is a great way to connect with customers. This should only be done, however, if it reflects the personality and image of your company. As a general rule, if your company is not customer-service focused, a selfie it out of place. It can be very strange to see a moustached man on an Instagram story for furniture upholstery without any context.
9. Should I write statuses on Facebook?
Well, this depends on the content of your posts and your brand’s identity. If you’re an authority on certain topics or industries, then sharing important information or advice is a great way to keep your community engaged. On the other hand, if you’re in the retail or hospitality business, it’s likely that your customers are following you for your products or services. In this case, keep your content on-brand and avoid expressing subjectivity.