The simple truth about social media community management is this: If you’re not taking the time to at least acknowledge people who interact with your brand online, you’re doing it wrong. But the upside is huge: if you take the time to respond to a customer in a thoughtful, helpful or otherwise meaningful way you can turn a casual fan into a passionate brand advocate.
As long you’re posting on social media sites, you need to be doing community management. But there are many different approaches you can take, with varying levels of time commitment and difficulty. The two main types of community management are reactive and proactive.
Reactive is completely, definitively, 100% essential for any brand posting on social media. If a fan takes the time and energy to actually comment on your post, the least you can do is react.
At the very least, any positive, non-spam comments should get a like from your brand. If it’s well written and positive, sharing or retweeting the comment is a great way to give the fan props while promoting your brand. The best, most difficult and most labor-intensive response to a fan comment is a personal, thoughtful and tone-appropriate reply. Such responses should be aware of brand-appropriate language, legal considerations, and a sense of the business strategy. So when going this route, it’s probably better not to delegate this task to an intern or new employee– it’s harder to do right and needs a greater investment of skill and energy.
Social media is really the preferred customer service channel for your fans, and what makes it more interesting is that it’s mostly public. So people see how you respond to people’s comments, which can and does shape their opinion of you as a brand. A well-written, thoughtful response to someone’s issue can turn a negative into a positive. Likewise, ignoring someone or offering a response that sounds like a robot wrote it can turn fans off– not just the commenter but anyone who reads it. It adds fuel to a potential fire.
The next level of the community management hierarchy is proactive. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have tools to see who is mentioning your brand in their content. Further, using search, you can identify people talking about your brand without mentioning you directly. This can be used to gauge sentiment, and also to start identifying potential brand advocates. If you join relevant conversations or chat with people you want to build relationships with, that level of personal attention goes a long way.
Community management is essential, but it shouldn’t be seen as a burden. Rather, it’s an opportunity to engage with fans, learn from them, give back to them, and hopefully, ultimately turn them into brand advocates. Do it right and you will create better, more valuable relationships with your social media audience.