Whether you have an established online presence or are just beginning your journey into the realm of social media marketing, it’s vitally important to establish social community management best practices in your social media strategy.
At Sociallyin, our team consists of highly-skilled social media marketing professionals, account managers and a social media community manager in order for us to keep things running smoothly and continue providing top-notch results to our clients.
However, this isn’t necessarily a “must have” when it comes to your own social community management, (though we highly recommend it for long term, faster and better results) but you will definitely want to have a vast knowledge of what does and doesn’t work, as well as a good idea of frequently used social community management best practices for your social media marketing strategy.
Let’s get started.
What IS Social Community Management?
Social community management is a process that begins with the construction of an authentic, engaging community of followers and brand advocates around your business.
These people can be employees, leaders, customers and partners, and exist both in person and online.
It’s an audience and an authentic community built around sharing valuable information and tools, as well as connecting with others and growing through shared experiences and information.
Why Do I Need Social Community Management?
If community management is so popular, why is it so undefined? And why is it so important for your business to adopt social community management best practices?
In short, social community management is necessary because:
#1) It allows your business to collect feedback from your audience, whether it be new ideas, complaints or positive reviews that can help you improve your brand and online presence.
#2) It gives your business a gateway to providing support for online members, customers, fans, partners and more.
#3) It allows you to learn about your customer and how you can better sell your products and serve them through your customer service experience.
#4) It will help your business define what your customers expect of you, both online and offline.
#5) Social community management best practices will help you increase brand awareness across the web.
#6) It allows you to easily build one-on-one relationships with your customers and better foster leads.
#7) It gives you the ability to provide value to your customers before and beyond a sale.
#8) Social community management will boost sales, customer interaction, customer loyalty, brand recognition, product awareness and conversions.
Social Community Management Best Practices: Building a Strategy
When it comes to creating any sort of strategy, it’s important to have the facts.
I will often use information I already have that’s easy to reach to begin an initial strategy, and then as we grow and continue to learn about the client, we’ll continue fine-tuning the process until we’re seeing the incredible results we want.
This doesn’t mean your strategy doesn’t need regular fine-tuning, though. We’re regularly fine-tuning our customers strategies across the board for better results, but it’s a start.
Choosing a Social Media Platform
Choosing a social media platform for your social community management is easy. Just narrow down the channels that make the most sense for YOUR brand.
Is your audience a fairly young crowd? Channels like TikTok, Instagram and even Snapchat can be incredibly powerful tools.
Targeting a professional audience? I love LinkedIn and use it almost daily for sharing what’s on my mind, epic marketing and lifestyle tips and tricks, and most importantly, just so that I can better connect with my followers and get to know them. You can follow me HERE.
If you’re looking to go a little more broad, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are excellent options.
Identifying Your Audience
So you have a channel picked out, but have yet to really define your target audience.
Why is it so important to identify your audience?
In short, identifying your audience will allow you to keep tabs on what they expect as far as interaction, content and what they like when it comes to brands they follow on social media.
By doing this research ahead of time, you can gather the information you need to tailor the content your audience will enjoy on YOUR feed for better results.
It’s Okay to Ask Your Audience What They Want to See From You
If you want to ensure that you’re sending out a message that your audience truly WANTS to see, don’t be afraid to ask them what that entails.
Above all else, you want your content to be interesting and relevant to your audience, so if it means asking some tough questions and making some changes, it’s worth it in the long run.
And THAT is an active social community management best practice.
How Will You Measure Success?
Keep in mind that when it comes to how and when you’ll measure your own success, you’re not stuck doing it in any specific way or at specific times. There’s no definite right way to measure the success of your social community management, just like there’s no definite wrong way to do it.
However, it can be especially helpful to beginners if they know what to look out for when it comes to whether or not their own social community management best practices are paying off.
A few of these things include:
- New followers, with the number growing month over month
- An increase in engagement. This can include comments, shares, mentions, messages, etc.
- An increase in overall customer retention.
- Number of downloads/participation in online events
- Website or store traffic
- A boost in sales and conversions
Don’t worry if you’re still a little confused. This kind of stuff is wildly complicated and takes a little time to understand thoroughly.
Remember too, that depending on what kind of a brand you are, looking at things month over month might not hold the same effectiveness as it does for most other businesses. This can be especially true if you’re a specific seasons brand only, or specialize in handmade gifts and such.
If that’s the case, focus on the year-over-year numbers to get a better idea of your own brand growth and whether or not you’re meeting goals and surpassing the numbers from last year.
Remember: even if your growth is slow going in the beginning, it’s still growth. Even for a social media agency like us, having the answers overnight or even in a small two-three week period is sometimes not possible. Take it in stride and keep trying.
Social Community Management Best Practices: Setting Particular Goals
As long as reaching your goals doesn’t become a blind race for the finish line, you’re on a good track.
YES, it’s vitally important to set goals, but don’t let yourself get discouraged if you fall short of the mark. Give yourself some time to make adjustments, (like I said before) and be patient. Even good strategies and the best content can take some time to percolate and get out there.
Don’t take this as an open invitation NOT to set goals, though. Having *attainable*, sensible goals are important to the success of your brand. If you don’t have goals, you won’t know to make adjustments or even throw the strategy out completely.
Instead of blindly setting a goal and getting discouraged, try this instead: track ALL of your engagement for a short period, perhaps 4-6 weeks and then find out what the average engagement was for each metric and then increase it by five.
If you got 100 likes in two weeks, two to make 50 followers a week into 60 and steadily increase your goals with your growth.
If you set attainable goals, you’ll get discouraged less and feel more empowered to create bigger and better strategies for bigger, better and faster results!
P.S. We HIGHLY recommend A/B testing when it comes to social content and ads. You can try the same copy with two different images and vice versa to find out what works best for YOUR brand. Give it a try!
Regular Posting+Frequent Engagement=Success
If you’re looking to be successful on social media, it’s VITALLY important that you post regularly and embrace frequent engagement.
This is because success requires consistency. People require and admire consistency. It’s even easier to track your progress when you’re consistent.
Social media is a powerful tool in terms of connecting with and engaging your audience, especially if your audience knows you’re reliable and they know they can expect to see your content at particular times.
Because of this need for consistency and connection, customers are drawn to brands that are careful and take the time to respond to each and EVERY comment, question and concern with the utmost care and attention.
Even if you don’t think a comment necessarily warrants a response, just letting your customer know that YES you saw their comment and that you appreciate their insight/praise/input is important.
If a customer comments and tags someone else, you have an even greater opportunity to impact two people at once with one comment.
Billie, a razor company specifically made for women have some drool-worthy community management skills that are a perfect example of the kind of thing we do for our clients. Check it out:
Not only are they responding to comments that didn’t *necessarily* need a response, they’re taking the time to make their customers feel heard and feel cared for.
The end goal is to make sure your customers don’t feel like a number. Social media grants you a door to embracing, connecting with and engaging with your audience, whether they’re past customers, current customers or future customers, so take advantage of it!
Just remember that no matter how YOU choose to interact with and connect and engage with your audience, the end goal must be that each person feels like an individual.
And that will ONLY happen if you are authentic, careful and understanding in your communication, so make it a priority.
Go ahead and bookmark this page and come back if you want to follow along for all the best ways to actively measure the results of your strategy!
Measuring The End Results
You’re doing it. It’s been 4-6 weeks now, and you’re ready to measure your results.
However, before we begin, I want to remind you that yes, numbers are important, but that doesn’t mean that it’s 100% accurate. After all, those numbers will never reflect the full picture of the growth you’re making on social, so if your numbers aren’t exactly what you had hoped for, don’t lose heart.
To properly measure the results of your social media community management strategy, you’ll need to choose a method. There’s a few different options:
- Social listening: You’ll actively monitor all of your social media accounts for mentions, feedback, keywords and even discussion around your brand, competitors, services and products.
- Platform analytics: You can use the built-in analytics tool on each platform, or a custom tool like Sprout Social to get insight about what performed the best across your chosen channels.
Incorporating Social Community Management Best practices
You have your strategy down, now it’s time to implement some social community management best practices.
Establish the Community Ground Rules
As a business owner, marketing professional or leader in your department, we’re pretty fairly certain you’ll want to present yourself and your products and services in a way that is an accurate depiction of your brand, while also putting yourself in the best possible light and position for leadership and sales.
That’s awesome as well as expected. However, if this is going to be the case, you’re going to need to establish some ground rules with your team and contributors.
- First, it’s wise to create a document that will represent your expectations of your team, how you want them to respond and how to approach particular problems and situations.
It’s also a good idea to establish particular, acceptable behaviors and whatever contributions you expect on whatever timely basis you expect them.
For instance, if Margie is in charge of responding to customers on Monday, who is covering the rest of the week? These things need to be well established before you begin tracking and updating your strategy.
- Second, having an answer to every FAQ about what you expect as far as community management goes in a written format SOMEWHERE that your team can access at any time is crucial if you want to save your team and yourself from a constant badger of questions.
This can be accessible either in an online written format or printed and placed somewhere within an office. Or both!
For things like this, our team utilizes Slack and has auto-responses to answer simple questions within our “general” channel. This system can be used across the board, including simple things like the wifi password, the company address and more.
- Regularly updating your rules is vitally important.
The social media landscape and your audience is always changing and that means your guidelines and boundaries should, too.
- When things get out of hand, (they will) have a system in place that allows managers and community oversight to step in or ask questions so you don’t have to do it alone.
It’s better to have a fire extinguisher ready to put out a small fire than a bucket and a possible water source a mile away. This can be true for any part of your social media strategy, but most especially community management because it’s always customer-facing.
Social Community Management Best Practices: Perform Regular Check-Ups
If your customers, team members, partners and potential customers don’t feel like they’ve been heard, had their questions answered or are concerned about your approach, something isn’t right.
As a social community manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure everything is flowing and running as smoothly as possible.
Potential clients should be getting the answers they need to push them along the buyer's journey.
Past customers should be getting praise or getting answers about their product and their reviews.
Current customers should be getting THEIR questions answered, their feedback should be getting acknowledged and they should feel heard, no matter what they had to say.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what KIND of community you manage. What matters is that you’re doing your best to check in on your members and giving them what they need to feel supported, comfortable and heard.
Social Community Management Best Practices: Stop and Listen
Thoughtful interaction. The two words that make up the entirety of the thought process behind social community management best practices.
Listening is crucial. If you’re going to be successful, stopping your day to take the time to truly listen is imperative.
Whether it’s social listening, reviewing your forums, responding to comments, feedback and emails, listening is the path to growth and success. It’s how you know what, where and *how* you can properly improve your content, communication, products and services.
It also is the only way to truly prove to your customers, past, present and future that you truly care about their opinions and what they have to say.
Social Community Management Best Practices: Customer and Team Appreciation Goes a Long Way
The end goal is a trusting relationship between you, your team and your customers. Think about it as the best kind of love triangle: one where appreciation for the care and concern for your customers and your team is returned two-fold.
But this can only happen if you’re actively working to show your team and your customers that you hear and appreciate their business, their effort, their communication and their dedication to your brand.
Your team deserves your appreciation because they’re giving you their full time, attention and a huge piece of their life, creativity and mind to YOUR brand. They don’t reap the same benefits you do, so it’s important to appreciate them for the crucial asset that they are. Without them, you wouldn’t have a brand.
Your customers deserve your respect for the same, albeit slightly different reason. Yes, they don’t actively pour themselves into your brand, but without the customer, there wouldn’t be a business. It’s their trust, loyalty and business that keep you going. They deserve your appreciation.
Showing your appreciation can look like:
- Interacting with ALL community members, regardless of their position as a customer. Are they new to your brand? Been around for awhile?
- Pay special attention to your biggest supporters. They deserve a little *extra* for their loyalty. You can do this through shout-outs, swag and even discounts! We often track with a simple google doc that includes emails, handles and names.
- Inviting brand ambassadors, supporters and partners for a behind-the-scenes glance at your business or a free “meet-the-team” Zoom can be an excellent way to show your appreciation.
- Make sure to always instill a “human element” feeling to your interaction. This can look like: keeping an eye out for comments, mentions, shares and more so you can properly respond with kindness and appreciation or even just personally reaching out to people who are spending a lot of time on your content.
They all deserve your appreciation. Show support wherever they are on the buyer's journey!
Social Community Management Best Practices: Be Forever Authentic
Authenticity. It’s a buzzword, yes, but there’s a reason.
Now more than ever, individuals are looking out for brands who are authentic and on point when it comes to their brand. Your audience doesn’t want you going out of character to hop onto a new trend.
As a unique brand, you have a unique audience and thus a unique opportunity to reach every individual within the context of your “uniqueness”. I.e, your followers don’t want to follow a football account and see baseballs. They’re here for the unique gift that only YOU can bestow.
But the same is true even within your industry. Conversing out of character, posting non-relevant images and trying to stretch the limits of what your industry allows is a turn-off to authentic viewers.
The short explanation? Embrace your brand and embrace your industry and you’ll go far in the social media space.
Social Community Management Best Practices: Exploring New Opportunities
Your industry is changing, social media is changing and people are expecting revolutionary new methods for communication.
So what happens when these things start happening?
Exploring new opportunities and taking the time to get to know your audience are the crucial elements to staying on top of your social media community management and knowing when it’s a good time for things to shift.
Should I Hire a Social Media Community Manager?
So you’ve explored all of the social community management best practices and now you’re feeling lost.
Don’t worry. This is a common problem after finding out what goes into a really effective social community management strategy or even just some simple social community management best practices.
The answer is, sorry to say, not straightforward. If you’re a medium to large size business, getting a social community manager is probably your best bet for success.
However, if you’re a small business owner, often you won’t have the funds for a dedicated social media manager or social community manager, so we recommend you do what you can using this article as a reference.
Do You Need a Social Media Community Manager for YOUR Business?
Don’t manage it alone. Our social media community management experts are fully prepared to help you find your community, find a social media blueprint for business that works for you, implement it, measure and deliver results to help you take your business to the next level.
Are you ready to take your business to the top? Sociallyin can help. Get in touch TODAY with our instant messaging option to the right, or fill out this form to talk with one of our social media experts.