Community management. No matter your brand or the types of products you sell, the increasing prevalence of social media makes it almost impossible to not have some form of social strategy in today’s digitally obsessed world. And yet on average, ask a random person what “community management” is and they’ll likely have no idea how to respond.
Here at Netplus, I’m the Social Media Community Manager, which is a mix of both a social media manager and a community manager. Confused? That’s okay. Sprout Social breaks it down pretty succinctly:
A social media manager is responsible for being the brand on social media. They create content, respond to comments, answer questions and much more as the brand. Social media managers, more often than not, deal with people who have a relationship with, or have heard of, the brand.
A community manager is responsible for advocating the brand on social networks. They create their own social persona and actively go out within the online community to connect with potential customers and advocate the brand. Community managers typically deal with those who haven’t heard of the business they work for and boost awareness for the company.
In short, my job is to build a bridge of trust between brands and consumers to ultimately amplify those relationships beyond social. As a result, community management requires a combination of meticulousness, intuition and decorum to communicate with so many types of people—whether it’s a customer with years of brand loyalty or someone who hasn’t heard of the brand, but would be the ideal target audience.
But at the center of it all is always content. A common misconception about social media marketing is that there isn’t a real strategy behind it and the focus should be on posting as much as possible. But that is definitely not the case, especially for us at Netplus. When it comes to creating social content, I work with practically every department to make sure we’re creating something that will have real impact.
By now you’re probably wondering how this all works. What effect does a social media community manager have on content strategy? Here’s the highlights.
Keeping An Ear To The Ground
According to Social Media Today, the average person will spend nearly two hours on social media every day, which translates to a total of 5 years and 4 months spent over a lifetime. So it goes without saying that building a social media presence is crucial for any brand.
But what most consumers don’t see is the cycle of content creation and consumer feedback that happens because of the immediate responses that social media affords. Community managers engage with consumers and take their feedback not just for social media’s sake; they do it to inform decisions when developing new content in the future. After all, the people who are going to engage with your content the most are your most loyal consumers—so why wouldn’t you listen to what they like/dislike and find out what their expectations are?
Putting All The Pieces Together
However, uncovering consumer insights to utilize in the future is only half the battle. Whatever the type of content, a major source of mediocre performance is a lack of optimization. That’s why it’s so important to make sure all the pieces are working together from the creative to the media plan to the strategy.
In the same vein, community managers ensure that the content is appropriate for the brand and for the specific social channel, including the nitty gritty details of size specifications and file formats. Confirming all this leads to higher results in not just engagement, but also in reach and overall brand impact. And it’s especially important considering the fact that social media is constantly changing. From Facebook algorithm updates to new content vehicles that are gaining momentum like Instagram Stories, there’s always something new to consider and ways we may need to adapt our content toward.
Cherry-Picking Trends & Reporting Results
In addition to keeping up with the latest updates on social, there’s the other side of that coin: trends. Because social media is constantly evolving with trends that may or may not change the game, it’s vital to keep up, especially if something could really be beneficial to your brand.
A perfect example: BuzzFeed’s Tasty videos. What may have seemed like an intriguing novelty two years ago has grown immensely with over 88 million followers on Facebook as of today. What’s really impressive is not only how they’ve been able to sustain their following via engaging, mesmerizing content, but also how they essentially started the recipe video trend that so many brands have adapted themselves. And now, if you’re a food and beverage brand that isn’t doing some kind of recipe video content, you’re seriously missing out on consumers, loyal and new.
To get started on finding new social trends, I recommend following the business blogs of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They will update you firsthand with all of the information you need to know in order to create the most successful content from their platform.
Another way to find trends is to look at your competitors’ social content and key metrics to see what makes the needle move. This is where reporting comes in. Without reporting, there is no way to evaluate the performance of your own social content and that of your competitors’. By consistently tracking and analyzing the raw data, community managers can not only pinpoint the impact of a piece of content, but can also collect valuable insights and help shape future recommendations depending on how it does compared to others. This goes back to the cycle mentioned earlier—seeing what resonates with consumers can lead to new opportunities to utilize in the future.
The truth is community management and content strategy go hand in hand. Though my day-to-day tasks are vastly different than those of any other team member, there is no doubt that community management is essential to creating the best social content with the biggest results.