“Us to the test: See ya!”
The “us” in question: The New York Yankees. The test? On the final exam, a teacher (@mr_chasteen101) told his students he’d cancel if a pro sports team commented on his viral TikTok video, posted in December of last year.
It worked: Other comments on the video came from teams like the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Penguins. The comment section wasn’t just teams, either. Dozens of other companies, including Papa John’s, Fashion Nova, and even Olaplex left a comment to encourage Mr. Chasteen to cancel the test.
Every business represented in that comment thread was doing what we in the social media business refer to as “community management.” TikTok is designed to allow for creative use of the platform by individuals and companies alike, and businesses on the app will find that some of their greatest power comes from uniting users through community management.
#1 Responding to Comments
Responding to comments is a huge portion of social media community management. Customers can use the comment sections on your post to praise your product, but can they also use the opportunity to complain about a bad experience, and you want to be quick on the draw to address that kind of feedback before too many other people see it.
Don’t think this means that community managers can only use comment replies for reactive customer service, though. In fact, you can build rapport with your customers by responding to their more favorable or even mundane comments. If Jane comments saying “I love this product!”, you can simply reply, “We love you, Jane! Thanks for your business!” or if she tags her friend (“@Beth, this is what I was telling you about”), you can thank Jane for spreading the love and offer to help if Beth has any questions. It’s all about connecting with your community…and your community’s community.
#2 Engage with Other Users
Community managers don’t have to stay within the confines of their own accounts. You can also comment on other people’s content. You will want to make sure their page is relevant to yours in some way—community management is about connection, and accounts that deal with the same target audience, topic, or geographic area are the best place to start forging those relationships.
Comments aren’t the only way to engage with your community. Use reactions, such as “liking” a post or comment, to acknowledge it. This is equally applicable when managing your own organic content. A simple “like” of a comment on your post or someone else’s (or the whole post itself) notifies the user involved, making them feel seen and valued. Valuing your customers and leads is one of the best ways to build them into a family and get them to come back to you when they need something you can offer.
#3 Monitoring Direct Messages
Another way to connect with your audience is to closely monitor your messages. Every social media platform handles DMs differently, but they all function as another opportunity to serve your customers. That message notification might be another inquiry about your hours, but it could also be a solid lead to a sale—or even a brand deal.
Brand deals, or influencer marketing, can be a result of good community management. Think about it: one of those people commenting on your post turns out to have a few thousand followers who care about the same things she cares about. Your response to her comment shows her that you’ve noticed her, and she follows up with a message about a potential partnership.
Thanks to your attention to your community, you now have an influencer posting her own content talking about how wonderful you are. Her community becomes a part of your community. Now that’s the kind of growth we’re talking about!
How to Get Started with Community Management on TikTok
“That’s great,” you might be thinking, “but how do I transfer all that to TikTok?!”
#1 Post Content
Your first step is to post content. Whether your plan is to primarily respond to comments on your own content or on others’, you need to have videos posted to your home page. If you’re just getting started on TikTok, you may not have a lot to go on yet. That’s okay. Try scrolling through the FYP for a bit for some inspiration!
It’s pretty obvious that you can’t respond to comments on videos that haven’t been posted yet. But surely commenting on other people’s videos or liking their stuff doesn’t require a completed profile! Ah, but it’s better if you do: what happens when someone notices you liked their comment and goes to your profile to learn more about you…and there’s nothing there?
Before you do too much interacting, try to make sure there’s at least a short introduction video so TikTok users know who you are and what you do when they stop by your page.
#2 Interact with Other Users’ Content
Once you have a few posts banked on your profile, you should start interacting with other users. You can start this even before you have much of a following of your own. Start simple: “like” some relevant videos and comments. This begins your engagement journey, but it also helps TikTok curate your FYP so you see more content that’s related to your business.
When you’re ready to start commenting, there are two significant ways you will find yourself using that kind of interaction going forward: to build brand awareness and reputation.
Businesses who end up in comment sections contributing funny or relatable comments to the dialogue going on there are building brand awareness by doing so. If the creator didn’t know about the business before, they’re more likely to know now. Your logo, brand voice, company name, and even (by association) your market niche are put out in front of that video’s audience by making that one move.
You can also take advantage of comment sections for customer service purposes, building brand reputation. Search out videos of people reviewing your product to get in front of complaints. In fact, pay attention to videos complaining about similar products or services—maybe your competitor has dropped the ball on something, opening the door for you to publicly say “That stinks. Can we send you a ____ on us?”
#3 Interact on Your Own Videos
No, we’re not suggesting that you like your own post. But when you start getting comments rolling in on your content, be sure to set aside some time to reply to them! There are a couple of unique ways to do this.
First, you can simply write a text comment reply to the comment. Anytime someone comments on your video, it gets plussed by the algorithm, making it more likely to appear in more users’ FYPs. Replying to the comments helps bump it even more. Not only are you building camaraderie with your audience, but you are also contributing to building your community as a whole.
A fun way to reply to comments is via a video reply. You can reply to comments in a follow-up video. These are even more interesting and engaging to your audience. It’s best to use this feature with comments that ask good questions about your company or make a poignant observation about your niche.
#4 Initiate and Reply to DMs
Remember that bit about how different platforms handle DMs differently? Yeah, TikTok is one of the tougher platforms when it comes to DMs. In their efforts to keep the app safer, TikTok limits the ability to DM to friends: people who follow each other.
Unlike the almost unrestricted flow of DMs on Facebook and Instagram, the more limited DM setup on TikTok affects even business accounts. That doesn’t mean the function serves no purpose, however.
Get acquainted with your follower list. Keep an eye out for bigger names or accounts that end up in your list and follow them back. If you see an influencer whose niche aligns with yours, follow them back. Now that you’re both following each other, you can use that DM feature to inquire about potential partnerships.
If there’s someone out there who you’ve followed but hasn’t followed you back and you really want to be able to DM, you can lead with a comment to request a connection. Heads up from the pros: these kinds of comments can look kind of spammy if they’re not done well. If you try this angle, focus on accounts that align closely with your niche and draw attention to a specific example of that in your comment.
Example: avoid “Your content is really amazing! We’d like to partner with you. Give us a follow back so we can connect!” and go with something more like “It looks like you are really enjoying [product here]. We’d love to send you a couple of our newest releases and partner with you! Send us a DM!”
How to Measure Community Management Success
Measuring the success of your community management efforts can be tricky. Unlike boosted posts or even influencer marketing campaigns, there’s not necessarily a quantifiable metric to look at. However, there are some general indicators.
First of all, look for spikes in followers or likes. When community managers are out in the social media neighborhood, visiting and saying hello, the neighbors will likely stop in and say hey back. Replying to comments on your own videos will push it even further in the algorithm, and commenting on other videos puts your name out where more people will see it. Both of those benefits should lead to more views and interactions with your content.
When pushing your product or replying to customer service concerns, it may work well to tie a specific discount code to those interactions. You can then track the discount codes on the back end of your sales process and get an idea of how many people are seeing your interactions and are motivated by that to purchase the product.
Another way to keep track of community management success is to use certain branded hashtags in your posts and regularly search those hashtags. Users who are trying to get your attention will likely be using the hashtags in hopes that you will notice them. They may also tag your handle directly, either in a video or in a comment on a video. By keeping a routine of checking on tags and hashtags, you will be more likely to catch some golden opportunities.
What is a community manager?
A community manager is an outward-facing position within a marketing team responsible for representing the company to the public. A community manager could manage in-person or traditionally-mediated communication with the public or focus primarily on social media engagement (or both, depending on the company, their size, and their needs).
Where should my business start with community management?
Start by building a community! If you haven’t already, sign up for social media accounts on the platforms that your target demographics use most, and find your people. From there, create content, like and follow other relevant accounts, and respond promptly and professionally to comments and DMs. If you’re still not 100% sure, hire a social media agency like Sociallyin to handle it for you!
What are some examples of community?
Firstly, a community can be your real-life, in-person, brick-and-mortar area and the people that live and do business there. Your community IRL can also translate to part of your online community, too, but your online, social media community is way bigger. It can include:
- Past customers and their friends/family/followers
- New followers finding your business for the first time
- Competitors and similar businesses
- Users with interests that align with your product or service
Posting on social media is only the first step in a comprehensive social media marketing plan. A few entertaining TikToks is a great start, but moving from there to effective community management is key for growing your business and its presence on social media.
It might seem overwhelming—as social media gurus, we get it. If you need a goal to inspire you as you get going: someday it might be your account that gets a few high schoolers a pass on their final. It all starts with your community!