• Amy Kirk

The importance of community management for your business

Updated: Feb 3

Social media has become an essential part of the modern day marketing strategy - it's no longer a tool businesses can afford to ignore or view as optional. By extension, this includes Community Management: the process of interacting and connecting with the people surrounding your brand online. These people include anyone who has an interest in or affiliation with your business, whether that’s existing or prospective customers, guests, fans or even employees.

Despite the two terms often being mistakenly used interchangeably, Community Management differs from Social Media Marketing in that it revolves around engagement, conversations and relationships instead of content publishing and sales promotion. It’s what turns followers into fans and brand satisfaction into brand love.

The role of a Community Manager, or Community Management team, is to respond to comments and messages, answer queries, resolve issues and complaints, and establish an overall sense of proximity between the business and its customers, through the use of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Customer Service

Social media can firstly double up as a customer service channel for your business. If customers have had a bad experience with your product or guests are left unhappy after visiting your venue, 55% are likely to jump online to voice their concerns (PR Daily), making it vital for you to pay attention to your inbox.

Not only does answering your customers’ queries swiftly make them feel valued, it also builds brand loyalty. According to research, people are much more likely to stick with a company in the long term when their customer service expectations are met (Gartner). Being attentive to consumer needs, keeping up with any questions they may have and solving their problems through social media are all excellent ways of encouraging repeat purchases and demonstrating that your business genuinely cares about its customer base. 72% of millennials say they’re more loyal to brands that respond to them instead of leaving their messages ignored (MarketingCharts).

Crisis & Reputation Control

Things move lightning-fast on social media; that’s why it’s crucial for your business to have a consistent strategy in place whereby its incoming messages and comments get checked regularly. If something goes wrong or a PR disaster strikes, the situation can escalate quickly if there’s nobody available to jump in and respond. In fact, over 25% of online crises spread internationally within just one hour (Hootsuite)! That’s a lot of potential damage to your brand’s reputation in a short period of time. While it may be tempting to ignore negative claims or allegations and skip straight to posting a quick apologetic statement, engaging authentically with those customers and replying to their remarks needs to be the first step in resolving the issue and reassuring your community.

Out of Office Hours

In line with modern customers’ expectations for quick communication, the assumption of day-to-night availability has increased too. Social media never sleeps and users are online 24/7, presenting the need for businesses to implement an out-of-hours procedure. However, 62% of marketers have claimed they find it difficult to offer this (Immediate Future), meaning many early morning and late night messages get left unanswered. Enlisting the help of a specialised Community Management team such as 3sixfive can help solve this as we’ll enforce a strategy that involves responding outside of your standard office hours - including weekends and bank holidays. This way, time-sensitive issues can get fixed on the spot and any concerns can be addressed before it’s too late and customers develop a poor impression of your brand.

Humanise Your Brand

Gone are the days of businesses having to remain formal and detached in their approach to marketing and customer relations. Modern day consumers want brands to feel approachable and down-to-earth - and Community Management lets them achieve this. Through interacting with your followers and joining in with friendly conversations, you can form a casual tone of voice for your business that puts fans at ease and makes them feel as if they're chatting with someone they know. On a similar note, providing genuine, human communication is much more effective than using bots or automated responses, which can lack authenticity, remove personality from your brand, and may even interpret messages incorrectly, possibly leading to disaster.

Develop Relationships & Brand Love

With features such as Facebook’s Top Fans, Community Management can help your business monitor who its most active and dedicated followers are and boost brand love through customer relationships. Not only do these relationships make customers feel more kindly towards your brand, they also give valuable insights into what they’re interested in and what they’re looking for - helping your business shape decisions regarding upcoming products or services. What’s more, 71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend the brand to their friends and family (Lyfemarketing), showing just how effective these relationships can prove to be.

Measure Response to Your Content

Community Management is also a great way of observing what kind of response is being garnered by the content you post on your brand’s page. Are your followers reacting well to your latest company updates and photos? Has a controversial Tweet sparked a debate amongst your audience? Failing to check back after posting on social media can leave customers feeling ignored or imply that your page is solely a marketing platform instead of an open community space. Acknowledging comments and gauging users’ overall sentiment towards your content will help your business discover what works well and, ultimately, strategise for the future.

These are just a selection of the many reasons why Community Management matters for your business. It’s important to embrace change, and as the digital world continues to evolve, social media is set to play an increasingly significant role in brands’ marketing and customer service procedures. How will you incorporate it into yours?

Amy Kirk is the Marketing Manager at 3sixfive. They're specialists in community, review, sentiment and social media management.

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