Do you have an online brand community manager as part of your Social CRM strategy? Do you think you need one?
Taking the leap into the Social Business arena brings with it a lot of new ideas and structures and sometimes even a few new positions for your organization. Community managers are important for many reasons, but the main one is that it’s important to have someone that’s focus is on creating positive experiences for your customers across multiple departments. These managers should be trained in understanding brand processes, community sentiment and social media best practices, among other things.
It’s a large task and shouldn’t be handled lightly, and by “handled lightly” I mean it should be arbitrarily assigned to your freshest out-of-college recruit or high school intern. Your community manage should have years of experience in the fields of customer relationship management and business management.
If you’re a community right now and your organization has recently made the switch to a Social CRM, or you’re looking into jobs with companies that are implementing such a system, here are a few tips to help you get a grasp on what we’re talking about.
Tip 1: Choose Your Networks
One of the hardest things for any brand that is gung-ho and ready to jump into social CRM is to narrow all the different options and not try to chase all available networks. There are hundreds of social media networks online and that number skyrockets when you add in community forums and niche message boards. It is impossible to be in all places at the same time, so that plan should already be out of your mind. With your knowledge of your brand’s customer profiles, research the major social networks and then deep dive into some niche networks and choose a limited number that will benefit your company. (I like to say start out with 3 and then grow from there if necessary.)
Tip 2: Feed The Networks
Most brands already have email campaigns and newsletters in place and that’s great. A Social CRM strategy should not come in and replace those initiatives, let me say that upfront. One thing that might be a large shift for current community managers is that alongside those initiatives, you also have to feed the social networks you’ve chosen with content. Content can come from and mirror the content already scheduled for email campaigns and newsletters, which will save you time, but the content you feed to the networks should also have the intention to drive your community to participate and create content for you. Find interesting things to share, but always keep in mind that you’re attempting to bring in user-generated content at the same time.
Tip 3: Create a Digital Personality
The term “digital personality” is new to this blog, but not to my consulting practices. I’ve been referring to the term for a few years now as a way to express that your communications online need to not only express something interesting, but also consistency across networks. There’s nothing worse than creating a laid-back, open voice on Facebook only to have your customers show up and find the office environment is stuffy and closed off. If your messaging on Twitter is light and humorous, but your Pinterest images are all standard brand stock images, there’s an inconsistency and your community won’t be as engaging if they don’t know with whom they are engaging. Take the time upfront to understand who your brand is and how you will be portrayed online and offline, then make sure that voice is emulated in customer touchpoints, online and off.
Tip 4: Have a Home Base
The Internet is a big place and branching out into social media for Social Business initiatives can really make you feel spread thin. On the opposite side of that, sometimes your customers won’t really know how to track you down or find a singular point of entry for concerns. It’s very important that you create a home base online for you and your customers. I always suggest that home base is a website/blog with ever-updating content, but some still are determined to make their home base Facebook. While that’s dangerous, it’s better than not having something at all. Wherever you decide to put it, make sure that all your online activities have a main point of focus for customers looking for answers or questions, while still leaving all your avenues open for communication. It’s a delicate balance, but as long as you have a singular point of focus on your end, it’ll come through to your customers.
Okay, there’s your tips for today if you’re a community manager (and even if you’re not). Is there anything that has been left off this list? What other functions are imperative for community managers?
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