In this digital age, it’s almost impossible to promote your business without using social media platforms to some extent. And while most of us have a general idea of utilizing social media as a means of generating awareness and increasing website traffic, have we ever stopped to think about what to do next?
Social media community management goes beyond the initial step of making your brand visible. At the very essence, it’s about creating a community around your brand, your consumers, your partners, and your employees to maintain good relationships and grow trust. The idea of managing a community may seem daunting at first, but it is nevertheless important if you want to take your marketing to the next level and further grow your business.
Here are six tips on how to foster a sense of community for your brand.
- Research your audience
You need to have a clear idea who your audience is, and understand which social channels are most likely to reach them. For example, if you are targeting professionals, LinkedIn and Clubhouse might be the platforms worth investing most of your time in. If you’re targeting Gen Z, you might wish to focus on TikTok and Snapchat while looking out for new platforms that appear promising. Millennials are frequent users of Instagram, while Gen X and older generations tend to be big Facebook fans.
At the very least, you need to start with understanding your customers’ demographics, behaviors, and preferences, to make sure you’re setting up a platform that will enable you to engage with them.
Monitoring which of your posts generate the most clout and traction is equally important. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have built in features that allow you to see beyond the likes and shares, and other metrics like clicks per post, audience growth, and even audience demographic. Third party sites like Oktopost, HootSuite, and Google Analytics can also help you monitor engagement.
What’s important is that you have an idea of what your audience is looking for, and you’re making a conscious effort to meet those needs. Remember, building an online community goes beyond making yourself visible. Communication is a two-way street, and you need to be having conversations with your customers to build relationships and a strong community.
- Listen to what your customers have to say
It can be tempting to use social media to project a stylized brand image. But, you should also focus on what people have to say about you. Your teams should be actively reading comments, and even listening in to conversations about your brand, so you have an idea about how people feel about it, and gain an understanding of where you can make improvements.
Through “social listening”, you are able to gauge awareness of your brand and pinpoint issues you can work on to improve your services. The internet is a mine of data you can harvest information from. To help with listening, you can use specific keywords to handpick conversations related to your company, your products, or the services you are offering.
- Engage with the audience
At the heart of community management is engagement. You want to be able to generate and sustain conversations about your brand to help build a community. User-generated content is a great way to showcase your products, services, and existing customer relationships. This can be in the form of images, videos, text, or audio.
Showcasing user-generated content adds credibility and legitimacy to your business, because it means your customers are promoting your business for you. Just remember to ask for permission and give credit before reposting anything.
- Be responsive
A lot can happen within a space of an hour, and much more within 24 hours. With digital channels becoming such a prominent means of communication between brands and customers, customer expectations around response times and quality of content are higher than ever. A UK- based study showed that the majority of customers reaching out to brands through Facebook and Twitter expect a response to their query within 30 minutes. This expectation isn’t always met, with only about half of the studied companies responding within that time.
To meet these expectations, you can use automation tools to help you respond to messages. Of course, not all questions can be answered by a chatbot, so the option of live chat is also highly recommended in order to personalize the customer’s experience and directly listen to what they have to say. Always keep in mind that the brand behavior exhibited online will influence peoples’ perception of your product, and failing to respond to your customers is as good as telling them you don’t value their feedback.
- Prepare for crisis management
Strategic handling of issues raised online can make or break a brand’s reputation. This doesn’t necessarily mean a single negative review or tweet can bring down a business overnight—although that has happened. But, if a complaint or poor review is not responded to, and a customer is made to feel worse about their experience, the situation can escalate quite rapidly. Fake reviews do exist, but be sure to respond to those you know are definitely genuine so as to avoid dissatisfying the customer further.
Having a crisis management plan ready to limit the potential damage a social media crisis can cause is vital. Be vigilant and monitor all social media content and communication, and be prepared with statements should an incident arise. Key to a successful crisis management plan is authenticity. Be honest about any shortcomings or failures, and commit to righting any issues openly and compassionately in order to regain trust. Take all experiences as learning opportunities.
- Sustain your momentum
Let’s be honest, it’s one thing to grab your audience’s attention, but it’s a different thing altogether to retain it. With intense competition in many industries, some members of your community feeling disengaged and losing interest at one point or another is unavoidable.
This is where customer retention strategies are useful for ensuring customers are kept in the loop and encouraged to be loyal. Track and analyze metrics to find out what works for your customers, and what type of interaction resonates with them. Find a strategy that is right for your business, whether through subscription services or loyalty programs, for example.
Social media is, these days, essential to most businesses’ success. As time-intensive as it may seem in the beginning, social media community management is an investment that does pay off in the long run. Genuine, authentic interactions add a human touch to your brand, help sustain relationships with your customers, and make them feel valued.
Let’s Build Your Online Community
Girl Power Talk has team members from over 18 countries. This diverse team helps our clients manage their communities in over 30 countries and in 50 languages. If you’re ready to take the next step for your social media strategy, let’s work together to cultivate your community and support your business growth.