5 Stages for Effective Social Media Community Management

Community management is one of the most important activities for brands who rely on social media to contribute to their marketing and sales cycles. Often people confuse social media marketing with community management - but they are two distinct disciplines. 

We took a look at how you can improve your community management practices and why these tactics are necessary for customer retention and acquisition. 

Where does community management begin?

At the very start of the customer journey when the brand and customer relationship is established. 

The strategy to grow - and engage - a given audience within the brand’s owned social space is used to attract potential customers or drive the customer to make a purchasing decision during a number of stages. 

Actively managing your community to cultivate and nurture existing relationships will better your chances of converting your followers and improving the company’s ROI

How can I develop an effective strategy?

To help you devise a successful community management strategy, it’s important that you have a well-defined goal. That’s why we will discuss the 5 key stages of social media community management and help you develop appropriate tactics for each stage.

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1. Acquisition & Content Validity

Often marketers don’t think of community management as part of their acquisition model. That shouldn’t be the only case. Think of your community being at the core of your campaigns; they can help elevate awareness for your brand, and earn media space.

From brand awareness and consideration to conversion, marketers can have a ready strategy in place to accompany their acquisition marketing flow with community management.

Best practices: 

Be ready with a social media community management strategy in place as campaigns unfold, and label your customer queries to reflect each stage. 

For instance, queries labeled as brand awareness will differ from those for campaign conversion stages. They might require different people and different expertise to be handled appropriately.

Your community can also be an accurate measurement for validating your content. 

While performance metrics paint the efficiency picture, you can also validate your content quality through community engagement. Did one part of your campaign get audiences talking more than the other? Be sure to listen to what your community has to say

2. Social Customer Care 

More than ever, companies realize the potential of using social media channels for consumer-brand interactions. 

We now have the ability to listen, monitor, and analyze audience behavior, gain consumer feedback, and improve existing relationships. We’ve even seen Facebook dominate over Google in search and referrals to reach new communities. 

Now is the time to foster customer loyalty at every stage.

Best Practice: 

Monitor brand mentions, hashtags, fan/followers posts on your owned profiles, and respond to audience queries as quickly as possible.  Unanswered complaints or questions can harm your brand’s reputation and strengthen the voice of unsatisfied customers. 

Your community comprises of people that are all in different buyer stages. Therefore, it’s important to remember that social customer care is not only related to existing customers. The customer care you provide today can influence whether a potential customer will make a purchase tomorrow. 
In this phase of community management, log every interaction with as much detail as possible (time, date, social platform, response time, social media agent, type of interaction, etc.) so that the next time a person contacts your brand for any reason, you can go back to the previous conversation and do a follow up on the past issue. 

This will allow you to maintain a healthy relationship over time is the key lesson for this phase. 

One important evolution of social customer care has been the introduction of chatbots. Chatbots are used for fielding customer queries by simulating human conversation using computer programming and a degree of artificial intelligence. 

This technology can help brands lower care costs over time and has the potential to improve social customer care. However, you need to evaluate if the technology will deliver appropriate care for your community, and what the possibilities are for bettering relationships - rather than only thinking about how chatbots will save you money.

Example 

1-800-Flowers has implemented chatbots for their customer care but also gives users the option to connect with a human representative. In both instances, fans and customers can ask questions, address problems and place orders on Facebook Messenger. 

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3. Crisis Management 

One aspect of community management that requires strategic planning is crisis management. 

If an issue arises and spreads across social media, it can cause immense damage to a brand’s reputation if it is not handled in a timely and strategic manner. Problems can stem from in-store promotions to TV campaigns, unanswered social mentions to delivery issues.

Best practices: 

Team coordination, product knowledge, and leadership are key. 

Determine who your social media team can reach out to if they come across difficult questions to answer. Be proactive, have an established crisis management plan with defined tasks and responsibilities, so if a crisis hits, you are already prepared. 

The internal team organization for crisis management and customer care should facilitate the process of attending to negative comments. 

They should also be able to identify a crisis as a brand advocacy opportunity. Many complaints and negative mentions can be turned around if the brand and the social media team are prepared and can act swiftly!

Example: 

A great example of crisis management took place on a Fan Page in Brazil at the beginning of 2017, when a customer posted a video on Youtube claiming that the Catuaba Selvagem drink was full of maggots. Catuaba is an immensely popular drink that is consumed by the youth in Brazil, particularly during Carnival season. 

A user recorded himself in a supermarket showing suspicious forms floating at the bottom of the newly released Catuaba Acai. He titled the video “I will never drink Catuaba again” and caused a stir online with fans attacking the brand on all social channels, accusing the company of selling tainted drinks. 

In 2 days, the video had reached 1.8 million views and this is how the brand responded:

  • Catuaba reposted the user’s video on their Fan Page and asked the community to find and tag the original user who posted the video. 
  • The brand explained that the deposits at the bottom of the bottle for Catuaba Acai were actually, well, Acai! No maggots there, just fruit!
  • It additionally said that this Acai bottle should be shaken before consumption so that the fruit is mixed well with the drink before serving.
  • The brand then proceeded to invite the user and his friends to visit the Catuaba factory and see for themselves how the new flavor was made!
  • 5 days later they released a video where the factory manager showed the public the wonders behind the scenes that happen to create Catuaba Selvagem.
  • In a few days, the repost became viral and caused many people to create their own version of the tainted bottle video in a supermarket, a funny attempt to get invited into the drink factory.
  • Because of the quick and smart response, the brand turned a crisis into a win, and received “free” press just in time for Carnival.
Catuaba’s swift response to a crisis gained them media attention and high engagement across social platforms

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4. Retention 

As social communities grow, brands face new challenges of creating content that keeps their audience engaged. Not to mention, there is so much competition for attention on the Facebook News Feed, and a large community can become uninterested and fail to interact with the brand’s content.

Best practices:

Monitor the topics and themes you have been exploring in the past year to make sure you are not being repetitive. 

Create targeted campaigns to offer rewards for your fanbase. For instance, you can target engaged fans from your community with Facebook Ads, as seen below. The key here is to reward and retain your loyal fans!

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Include your fans when creating new campaigns, try getting them to test out new products before the public, or give them early access or a premium version of your service. Offer rewards, discounts or specially created products to show your appreciation. 

This can offer a great opportunity to turn fans into brand ambassadors!

5. Advocacy 

The last phase of community management is to identify and engage with super fans and brand advocates. This phase validates a job well done for the brand, from product conception to community care. 

Social media makes it easier to identify super fans (potential brand ambassadors, micro-influencers etc.); especially if you are using analytics tools that can help you identify the most frequent engagers with your content, as well as positive brand mentions.

Best Practices: 

Monitor every mention and newly used hashtag that accompanies your brand/products so that you can create a table where anyone in your team can easily identify the most prominent users that are creating content around your product. 

Evaluate which users are creating great content and add user-generated content (UGC) into your marketing strategy. That way, you can feature this authentic feedback. 

Invite brand enthusiasts to participate in product conception, design, and marketing campaigns - they can become great contributors to your creative process. This will help you maintain positive relationships with your champions and they will gain special treatment from your brand.

Example

Fenty Beauty (by Rihanna) created a beautiful campaign for the release of her beauty line. The brand is including just as much UGC as they are branded photos and videos for their social channels. 

By showcasing UGC, the public can have a non-commercial view of the products and the honest opinions of the users regarding quality, price, etc. This is a great tactic to turn loyal fans into the brand’s content creators and gives authenticity to the reviews. 

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The Takeaway 

For each phase of social media community management, it is important to pay attention to how fans respond to your efforts and learn from past mistakes. A good all around best practice for community management is to maintain a log of what has worked - and what hasn’t - so it can serve as training material for new social media team members.

This log should include the details of customer interactions within social platforms, detailing the date, social platform, issue addressed, the name of the social member who addressed the problem, the name of the fan/follower/customer with a link to their profile, and if the issue was resolved. 

Then tag each “ticket” and classify it as positive, negative, crisis, advocacy and whenever possible, link with the content in which the issue was started (whether it was an ad, a link click content, a product offer, etc). The tagging will allow future team members to understand what was done in the past, in regards to specific issues, and managers will be able to understand where their issues are arising from. 

As new social features become available in each platform (Instagram polls for example), make sure that your brand is ready to embrace it. Ensure that these new features are appropriate for your social strategy and what objectives can be achieved with them. 

Involve members of your social media team to draw the guidelines for managing community with each feature and be prepared to deal with a crisis in every format on every platform. A quick tip - it's easier when managed all in one place. 


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