5 Tips for Building a Community Management Strategy

social media how toAre you looking to build a community management strategy for your business?

Here are five ways to get started building an effective community management strategy.

Social media allows great opportunity for building relationships and communicating directly with customers. To facilitate these relationships, the role of community manager is becoming increasingly important for all types of businesses.

Usually, community managers are the social media voices of their brands, fulfilling multiple roles including social media strategists, customer service managers, content creators, product managers and evangelists.

#1: Metrics—What are your objectives as a new community manager?

Identify the metrics and goals for your new role or community-building program. Clear expectations on KPIs will help you succeed.

Community-building progress to measure:

  • Customer service metrics: Reduce the number of customer service support calls by monitoring common questions on Twitter and writing posts for an internal customer wiki.
  • Sales metrics: Generate leads through inbound marketing tactics: blog posts, eBooks and webinars.
  • Engagement metrics: This includes Facebook fans, Twitter reach, Facebook post impressions, blog comments or number of organic community member discussions started in a forum.

As it turns out, your role might be a combination of these. Defining your role (and being open to adapting it) by the data you drive ensures your efforts move forward.

#2: Listening—Where does your target audience hang out already?

With over 700 million people on Facebook and 450,000 new Twitter accounts added each day, it’s likely your potential community members are already on social media talking about things relevant to your brand.

When you’re starting a community from scratch, you need to fish where the fish are. Social media monitoring is how you find them.

Listening tactics include:

  • Google Alerts and Twilerts: Subscribe to search terms for industry keywords and competitors.
  • Create a (private) Twitter list of competitors, note what they are/aren’t sharing. Monitor what content they share on Facebook and LinkedIn (if applicable).
  • Identify the hashtags your community uses. Set up columns in a Twitter client (like Seesmic) for them.
  • Subscribe to blogs your community reads and share that content from your own accounts.

How it’s done:

The #measure Twitter community is a vibrant, enthusiastic group of data geeks discussing marketing and web analytics. Omniture, KissMetrics and Google Analytics are frequently mentioned. Marketing analytics company Performable, recently acquired by HubSpot, tapped into this existing and engaged audience to grow their community. They did this in a way that was genuine, by participating in the #measure community and sharing their relevant content.

performable

Performable engaged where their target audience was using the #measure hashtag.

This successfully positioned them within their target community, and kept them in tune to what potential customers were talking about.

Learn where your community is and what they care about. Engage where they engage, and read and share the content that matters to them.

#3: Offer value to draw people in—Create a content plan.

Diligent monitoring unveils what your community talks about, what questions they have and what topics you should blog about. You’ll have plenty of ideas, but how will you carry them out?

Organize the pieces of your content plan:

How it’s done:

The Laughing Cow and Babybel cheese community team knows the importance of adjacency in content: It’s not directly about your product or service, it’s about delivering related information your community cares about.

Their content plan means leveraging the knowledge and influence of Internet personality Sarah Dussault, a fitness expert with her own YouTube Channel.

laughing cow

Laughing Cow and Babybel leverages the influence of fitness expert and Internet personality Sarah Dussault to share fitness and nutrition tips with their community.

Sarah and the blogging team deliver fitness and nutrition tips for their health-conscious community, the target buyer for the 35-calorie cheese snacks.

This content plan shows how one company scales the content creation it needs in order to build and engage its community.

#4: Don’t forget about email—It’s the glue that makes social media stick.

If you’re ignoring email, you’re missing a major community engagement opportunity.

Although social media is growing fast, actually only 52% of Americans have a profile on a social network. Email is a great way to share content or tips with your community, exclusive for your newsletter subscribers.

Add email to your community management strategy:

  • Build your email list—Make use of your existing social media channels for acquiring email addresses. Include a place in your blog’s sidebar for people to subscribe to a newsletter or a custom tab on your Facebook page.
  • Select your schedule—Choose a schedule that you’re able to stick to: You don’t want to set expectations for a weekly newsletter if that’s not realistic for your bandwidth.
  • Plan your content—Will you curate industry news or share original tips with your newsletter subscribers? Choose your approach.

How it’s done:

Through weekly and monthly email newsletters, email marketing company Blue Sky Factory, recently acquired by WhatCounts, is a textbook example of how incorporating social media and email marketing is done right. They share helpful email marketing tips with community members. Responsibly, they allow community members to sign up for just the content they want on their newsletter signup page.

newsletter

Blue Sky Factory lets users sign up for just the emails they want.

This means community members don’t have to receive press releases if they don’t want to. They can opt-in just to receive a once-a-month newsletter as opposed to a weekly update.

They also make use of the real estate on the Blue Sky Factory Facebook page, offering a user-friendly, granular email newsletter signup form on a custom tab.

email

Blue Sky Factory engages their community with email newsletters and invites people to learn from their content on their Facebook page.

Remember: Every Twitter follower and Facebook fan has an email address. Blue Sky Factory’s strategy shows how to make community engagement multichannel, and make the most of your social media platforms.

#5: Connect in real life—Incorporate Meetups into your community strategy.

Even if you have a global, online or digital community, engaging your local community fires up evangelists early on in the community-building process.

Let local people know you—the person behind the software, app or service. They’ll be quicker to vouch for your brand because they are willing to vouch for you.

Ways to merge digital and physical community:

  • What events already matter?—Identify the conferences, Meetups or parties your community already goes to and find a way to attend or even sponsor.
  • Partner up—Is there a local noncompetitive company or organization with the same audience who would want to co-host an event? Leveraging the brand equity of a co-host is one way to break into the space when you’re just beginning your community-building efforts.

How it’s done:

runkeeperBoston-based fitness app developer RunKeeper uses Meetups to connect its global community to local runners with group runs.

RunKeeper hosted its first group run from their headquarters in Boston’s South End in May, attracting more than 100 people. On June 9, the RunKeeper team set its sights on a larger scale: hosting a global group run. 2,200 runners in 1,000 cities signed up.

runkeeper

A map of all of the international Meetups planned by the RunKeeper community. Photo credit: http://radar.oreilly.com/2011/06/runkeeper-meetups-app-real-world.html

Meetups generate a huge audience to use RunKeeper’s app to track their miles, and they successfully achieve a core element of community-building. Runners feel like they are a part of something bigger than just their typical Saturday morning run.

ROI, tools and technology aside, community-building is about connecting a group of people by making them feel like they’re a part of something special. No matter what tactic you use or tool you choose to carry out that tactic, keep your focus on what motivates the people at the core of the community you’re trying to build.

What do you think? What other examples would you add, and what are the other core pieces to your community management strategy? Let us know in the comments box below.

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About the Author, Janet Aronica

Janet Aronica is Head of Marketing for Shareaholic. You can read her social media blog at JanetAronica.com or say hi on Twitter @JanetAronica. Other posts by »




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  • Pingback: 5 Tips for Building a Community Management Strategy | Social Media Marketing Asia (Singapore)

  • Katharine K. Whiting

    5 tips worth considering:

  • http://www.facebook.com/angela.hausman Angela Hausman

    Great post.  Influence is important because it drives action.  Robert Cialdini published the most important book on this topic and it still rings true in the social media age. I especially love his stories and the one I like best is about how price influences perceptions of value — intangibles priced too low influence people to believe the product must be low quality.

    Also, building social capital is a critical step in influencing people. Social capital drives your community members to support you, defend you against criticism, and share what you have to say — pretty important tasks for social media success.  You can read more about it here:http://ow.ly/5JXP6

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  • StompSocial

    Wow! I loved this article. It was EXACTLY what I needed to read. My company is at a pivotal point in our evolution and these tips will definitely help us develop a more clear strategy and stronger platform moving forward.

    Keep up the great work, Janet and SME! You guys are rockin’ my world :)

  • http://twitter.com/wandajbarreto Wanda J. Barreto

    Excellent post, Janet.  I just tried twilert and I liked it.  Thanks for sharing.

  • http://twitter.com/JanetAronica Janet Aronica

    I’m glad you found this helpful! :)  

  • http://twitter.com/JanetAronica Janet Aronica

    Thanks great! Good luck with it!

  • Deanna Layton

    Thank you!  Don’t you love it when you get a blog feeds right to you and delivers the very answer you were looking for at the very moment you were looking for it?  Ahhhhh….

  • http://www.facebook.com/fernando.ruizcorregidor Fernando Ruiz Corregidor

    Great post Janet, I am currently doing a Communty Manager course in Spain and your post actually help me organizing my ideas in order to present final 2.0 Media Project, thank you so much… ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/JanetAronica Janet Aronica

    Sounds awesome, glad I could help!

  • http://twitter.com/JanetAronica Janet Aronica

    :)  

  • http://www.phoenixonesales.com/marketing_solutions/index.html Bill Simmel

    Exceptional information for any business regardless of size. You have outline a effective 5 Step Program to fully engage an audience and attract new member. Nice write.

  • http://felixrelationshipmarketing.com/ Juan Felix

    Thanks Janet for this great article. Right now I help one of my clients with content strategy to build a community. Your tips on community management are very helpful. This made me think again about the criteria Brian Solis used to define a great community manager. He said something like: look for people who want to work for empathy.

  • http://twitter.com/Votocracy Votocracy

    Build relationships on Facebook and then start your own candidacy for president through our App. Even double rainbow guy did it! Read the latest feature in Mashable: http://on.mash.to/nrbLpC.

  • http://homeremediesmd.com Home Remedies MD

    I think having a community manager in place to help grow and scale your online social community is mandatory unless you have the time to manage it yourself

  • http://twitter.com/gillian_lian Jiayan Lian

    I do love this post! As a “freshman” in social media marketing world, I really need professional websites and experts like you to help me catch the essence of social media. I am appreciated so much, I will keep reading and learn as much as I can while practicing those wonderful tips in my real life. Of course, I’ll share with my friends!!

  • http://twitter.com/ABDpromotions ABD Promotions

    Great suggestions!  Community involvement is so important.  We are very active in our own community and we use the same strategies you have suggested.  Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Shilpi Roy – Virtual Assistant

    I loved what you have done here. The design is elegant, your stuff classy. Yet, you have got an edginess to what you’re offering here. Ill definitely come back for more .

  • http://www.i95dev.com/ecommerce-magento Henry Louis

    I have not applied the 3rd & the 5th Strategies yet for my business. Eager to apply the 3rd one. At this moment, I personally do not want to go with the 5th one. Thanks Janet for sharing the strategies!

  • http://twitter.com/JanetAronica Janet Aronica

    Glad you liked it!

  • http://twitter.com/JanetAronica Janet Aronica

    Yea love Brian Solis’ writing about community management! Glad you liked the article. :)  

  • http://twitter.com/JanetAronica Janet Aronica

    Aw haha I definitely don’t think I’m an expert… I just read a lot and do this stuff every day. Keep reading! That’s the way to learn :)  

  • http://twitter.com/JanetAronica Janet Aronica

    Awesome! Thanks for reading! :)  

  • http://twitter.com/JanetAronica Janet Aronica

    Thanks for reading :)  

  • http://nateriggs.com/ nateriggs

    Great case studies, Janet.  :)

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SRWDWB2AN55CC4D2THRCQC5XVE Janice Maddox

    I just paid $22.87 for an iPad2-64GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $675 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, GetCent.com

  • http://dominymedia.com Matthew Dominy

    Great article Janet!  All important, there are other suggestions I have, but here is one…

    Figure out what your hub is and set-up accordingly:  Based on your business, you will have a different hub and all other efforts should be set up to drive traffic to that hub.  For instance, if you have an e-commerce business, your social media sites should be set up to drive traffic to your website.  If you have a consulting business, your social media sites may be set-up to drive traffic to your blog

  • http://www.contentstrategyhub.com Eugene Farber

    “Fish where the fish are” …so true. It’s important to remember that just because there is a craze with social media, doesn’t mean it’s right for your company. It’s probably a good choice for most, but it depends on who your customer is. Take my grandmother for instance…she’s never owned a computer and probably doesn’t even know how to turn one on :)

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  • http://twitter.com/lisachidichimo Lisa Chidichimo

    I know this is an “older” post, but I was wandering through searches and I wanted to say that this is a well thought out post. Nicely said!

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  • Masonmike252

    Great tips Janet. Id also recommend anyone looking to build a communty around a startup look at http://startupplays.com/plays/craft-an-online-community-around-your-startup.
     
    Megan Berry from klout.com has a structured process for building a social following that she outlines.

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  • http://blog.momekh.com/2012/06/12/money-communities-life/ Momekh

    Why is it that so many blogger – who are essentially community builders – do not do that last tip. Meetups!? 

    And if they do, they are being very secretive about it! :/ 

    Thanks for the actionable tips :)

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