Nowadays, community management is an essential part of every business aiming to have a powerful online presence. It allows you to reach an ever-expanding audience and to target relevant people for your business in a familiar environment, all without spending a single Ruble. Once you’ve created a stunning website – hire WInnefy Web Developer of course, and I’m not biased – building a community around it is one of the most efficient ways to market it.
So the one-million-dollar question is:
What is community management?
Essentially, community management consists of building an online community around your business – you would have never guessed that, right? And the path to doing that is creating and managing your business’s social channels and blog. Why? Because it gives you the opportunity to interact with your followers/subscribers in a more direct, eye-level and authentic way. More than that, publishing content on these channels will help drive more interest toward your brand – by using, what they call in the professional jargon, content marketing. To sum it up, the goal is to help, to inform and to entertain your community. Oh, and I almost forgot the cherry on the cake: it’s free.
Now that the general concept is a bit clearer, all you have to do is tailor a social strategy to your own brand; and that means asking yourself a few basic questions: Where should I publish content? How often should I post? What kind of content should I be putting out there?
Let’s dig into it:
Where should I publish?
Each and every social media platform has its own way of functioning and satisfies different needs and expectations. According to your business identity and your target audience, each of the following networks will, to a certain extent, match your marketing goals:
The biggest social empire – as of today. Almost every business should have a presence there. But the magnitude of the platform (almost 2 billion users) is both its positive and negative side. On one hand, you have the possibility to reach an almost infinite audience. On the other hand, the algorithm is built to push the most engaging posts to more people. To sum it up: if you don’t grab the attention and generate immediate engagement (AKA reactions), your publications might die as quickly as a character on Game of Thrones.
The kingdom of the two screen addicts (you know, Tweeting on a mobile device about what’s happening on TV). Twitter is a very fast-paced and dynamic social media channel – you have only 140 characters per Tweet. The blue bird territory can be very interesting for brands who base their marketing on written content and who react quickly to the news.
In the era of selfies and food porn, Instagram has proven itself to be one of the strongest visual social media outlets. If your marketing strength relies on visual content, there is no doubt you should give this a try. Restaurants, artists, photographers, fashion designers and so on have to be there, but many stores and services can take advantage of the platform, too.
Today, video content is the heart of the marketing war. Even giants like Facebook try to innovate and push video content in order to increase their share in this very competitive (and lucrative) field. You see me coming. YouTube is unavoidable for businesses who produce video content – tutorials, commercials, testimonials, etc. And if you have time, it would be a nice move to start your own channel.
Snapchat is one of the most popular social platforms among generation Z; you know, teenagers and young adults – not Zombies, even though it could have been fun. The app can be a bit destabilizing in the first stages since the interface is different in comparison to other social platforms. In addition, the ephemeral aspect of the snaps isn’t very natural for “old school” social media users. But let’s face it: Snapchat users are the consumers of tomorrow. It’s worth giving it a try just to understand the mindset of this generation.
LinkedIn is a network for professionals. All informative content, as well as HR-related information and company news, are welcome. There is, of course, some flexibility, but that’s the general spirit.
There are many good reasons to start a blog for your business. A blog lets you express your creativity, show your expertise, share your business’s news and communicate on everything related to your professional field. In addition, a blog is a great tool to boost your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and improve your online visibility. The amount of work is a bit more time-consuming, but the effort is totally worth the investment.
Needless to say, there are many other social networks that you can use. For instance, I didn’t mention Pinterest, which is great for visual goods, particularly for those selling online. In any case, investigating the channels above is definitely a good start.
General Tips: When? What? How many?
According to the nature of the social networks you want to invest in, the content you publish should vary significantly. With that said, here are a few recommendations that you should consider regardless what your <3 favors:
- Publish often (but don’t spam): Publishing compulsively every day of the week won’t do any good for your social presence. You’ll look like a spammer and it just might backfire on you. Use a scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite and plan your publications ahead for the whole week. Of course, depending on the social media platforms you choose, you might increase or decrease the number of daily posts – even if there is no rule written in stone. For instance, you want to publish more on Twitter than on Facebook. On Twitter, the feed moves very quickly and is often overwhelming, so it’s common practice to publish many times a day (5 or more). On Zuckerberg’s turf, you’re better off publishing 1-2 times a day because it might affect your reach and engagement – as I mentioned earlier, Facebook is a bit tricky. Finally, don’t forget to pick your hours carefully. Timing is key: you want to catch your audience when they are connected.
- Offer quality (better than quantity): As I said earlier, you should be investing some time in strong posts that will generate engagement rather than publishing a lot of content. Particularly on Facebook, where your page “quality” is evaluated according to the overall interest it generates. In any case, let’s be honest: regardless of algorithms and other curse words, focusing on quality is always better. Your social followers and your blog readership and will appreciate the effort.
- Diversify the content: Monotony is the worst enemy of a community manager. In order to fight it, you want to try different content types and formats. Mix between hard content-heavy posts and light (funny) publications. Try images, videos, GIFs, links and whatever else you desire. The important thing is to maintain a certain balance: your branding is on the table here.
- React: One of the most fun and interesting ways to create content is by jumping on trending topics. It doesn’t have to be political. You can create a post for the launch of some cool new social/tech feature, the new season of your favorite TV show (careful about copyright infringement though), or any Internet trend. On Twitter, trending hashtags are a great tool to help keep your finger on the pulse of an online community.
- Use your calendar: Your calendar is one of the more useful utensils in your online toolbox. It allows you to create tailored content ahead of time for special occasions. Organizing a Christmas giveaway? Work on your social posts from design to content; and check all legal aspects to make sure that when the time comes, you can play the part of digital Santa like a champ!
- Interact: Look, being social is the name of the game. You can publish some gems, but if you don’t ride on the power of your community, you won’t get anything out of it. Speak with your followers, answer comments and provide help to your members who are seeking it. Make sure to interact with your community in an open, honest and eye-level way. As the old saying goes: love thy followers like you love thyself.
- Have fun! Einstein said, “Creativity is contagious, pass it on.” The first step to ensure your community enjoys your content is to enjoy creating it for them in the first place. Don’t be scared to fail or to try new ideas because, at the end of the day, mistakes are a part of social media management. You can learn from them and improve your content accordingly. After all, it’s what the Internet is all about – innovating.
- Stay up to date: A new Facebook feature just went live? Try it out! All social networks are constantly coming out with new tools and features. These new ways of publishing and sharing content often generate a lot of interest – at least in the early stages. Internet users are curious to see and understand what “shape”’ these tools will take and how brands are going to appropriate them for their own needs. And the first ones who try them are always the best case studies.
- Be consistent: Your business needs to speak – both visually and textually – in a clear and consistent manner. Your mission, if you accept it, is to make sure your audience can recognize you at first glance. The only rule: you have to be aligned with your brand identity and values in order to market it like a pro.
- Analyze & optimize: Today, almost every social media channel comes with a built-in analytics tool. For the blog, Google Analytics is a great option. Once you’ve started publishing, check the performance of each of your masterpieces and learn what works and what doesn’t. From there, you’ll be able to optimize your content strategy accordingly.
Needless to say that these tips are just the tip of the iceberg – it’s no coincidence that this article looks like a Wikipedia page, considering how many hyperlinks are in here. You don’t have to publish everywhere, every day; which is a good thing since, as a small business owner, this is not even an option – time is a precious resource.
Pick your battles according to your brand’s needs and you’ll slowly discover where to invest your efforts and what content to focus on. In other words, if there is one point to remember, it would be: try and learn. You’ll truly discover the magical world of community management just by jumping into the water and getting your hands dirty (interesting figure of speech combination isn’t it?). What an adventure right?
Hope you’ll have as much fun as we do managing your community!
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