The term originated in the online games industry in the early 90s. Moderators from among the players created communities, managed activity, tracked feedback on users’ experience on the games. Feedback from users was sent to developers, which allowed them to develop the game script, taking into account the wishes of users; fix bugs, and expand the audience. The effectiveness of such communication did not go unnoticed, and the specialist in communication with users was entrenched in Internet marketing as a "community manager".
To organize a community of loyal people around the project, a specialist needs to have a large set of communication skills. What makes a strong community is that each participant of the community feels like a part of the brand. The main task of community management is to form a voluntary community around an activity, idea, problem, or product. It includes: building the organizational structure within the association, attracting new loyal members, defining values, understanding the needs of the target audience.
One of the greatest examples of the community that the brand has created is Nike + Run Club. Runners don't think about Nike when they run, they think about running, about the route they run. As a member of the community, you don't owe Nike anything. You owe yourself. You are in a group of people who are passionate about running and want to contribute to its development. The brand shares your values, it becomes your partner with whom you develop your running culture. It's cool! Nike increases the loyalty and empathy of its audience, which is then converted into recommendations to friends and sales, respectively.
Experts attach great importance to the development of community management. It is expected to become the backbone of internet marketing in the future. Brands that have the backing of a strong online community will be successful. Therefore, the demand for specialists who know how to direct a large audience in the right direction will grow.
Сommunity management helps businesses solve a number of diverse tasks from strengthening customer loyalty, attracting sponsors and partners to attracting investments, hiring qualified employees, and solving problems related to the company's reputation.
Benefits of community management for your brand:
● engaged customers are the first to buy and try new products that the brand releases;
● loyal customers recommend brand products to their friends;
● members of such communities offer ideas for new products and provide useful feedback on the quality of products and services;
● loyal customers become brand advocates: they protect the brand from the attacks of haters;
● media projects support targeted traffic with the help of communities, and among enthusiastic readers, they find columnists and experts who are ready to write for the publication.
This is how brands solve a number of other tasks in terms of PR, recruiting, customer search, entering new markets, etc. All this helps the business to earn more and develop products.
You want to promote a product or service without a large advertising budget
If you have a quality product but do not have a large advertising budget, then you can use "guerrilla marketing".
Your company faces a wave of negativity
Not a single business is immune from attacks from disgruntled customers. Bad reviews should never be ignored - they can seriously damage your brand's reputation and impact your bottom line. A community manager will be able to competently build a conversation so that even an angry person changes from anger to mercy and is ready for dialogue. In addition to polite answers, the specialist must correctly help solve the customer's problem. For example, to convey to other employees the importance of changing something in the work of the company.
When the company is in crisis
It is loyal customers who will help keep your business afloat during the crisis. An example of community management on social media is when during the coronavirus pandemic, many companies approached their audience with a request to spread information about them on their pages on social networks.
You have a new service or product
It is the "fans" of the brand who are the first to test all the novelties. You can ask them to create a review for a released product in exchange for a reward.
The cost of your products is higher than that of your competitors
If the price of your product does not suit customers, then they are not satisfied with the value of the product. That is, the customer buys the quality and pays the designated amount for it. The stronger the image of the product, the more willingly people buy it. With the help of social networks, you can natively convey the value and benefits of your particular product.
1. Community as a source of income
One of the main goals of the community is to unite users who are close to the goal and ideology of the brand. Commercial benefit should come second. By viewing the audience as a tool for making a profit, you depersonalize the community, turning it into a regular online store.
For example, the Adidas Runners running community is more than just a running club, it helps audiences choose sports sections, get a workout plan, take part in sports festivals, and so on.
2. Lack of brand voice
When there is no clear idea of how to interact with the audience, users get bored. It is important not only to talk about the benefits of the brand but to demonstrate them visually. Start a friendly conversation, be open with your audience. People shouldn't get the impression that they are talking to a bot.
3. Lack of leveling the negative at an early stage
There are plenty of examples on the Internet when large companies became the target of a scandal due to several statements on the Internet. As a result, large financial and time resources had to be invested in restoring the reputation.
Your task is not just to listen, but to hear the audience. This is why there are special community management tools that allow you to quickly receive information about new mentions about your company on the network. In addition, it is important to create a non-toxic community where users feel safe and can openly express their claims and be ready for dialogue, rather than splashing out their negativity on review sites or forums.
4. The main goal is as many subscribers as possible
The community is not just a huge number of people, they must be united around one goal. If you only work on increasing the number of subscribers, then most likely you will face a problem when the audience cannot find a common language. It is almost impossible to manage a large number of people with different interests, goals, and values.
Community managers run communities. And communities are groups of people united around an idea, product, or brand, people with common interests. Thus, community management is a set of actions for creating communities, managing and continuously attracting new participants.
A community manager does not necessarily work only on the Internet; working with communities involves meetings also offline: at conferences, concerts, and any other events. In business, communities are divided into external ones: customer community; and internal: employees of one company. In both cases, the business establishes a constructive dialogue with community members, and the community management itself is precisely aimed at developing such close relationships with the audience.
A community manager builds a community around a brand, product, idea, or problem. Their community building strategies are: they identify brand values, understand the needs of the target audience, create an organizational chart of the community, attract new members to the community, monitor the mood of community members. In companies where there is no separate community manager, his role is often performed by: PR specialist working with the audience of the product or an SMM specialist.
Companies that have realized the value of the community are increasingly hiring a dedicated specialist for such tasks - the community manager. The community manager understands the brand's audience well: they know what drives the community members, what they like, why they participate in discussions, and what they expect from the brand.
In game development companies, the community manager is responsible for communicating with the audience: creating content, sending mailings, moderating chats, and much more. A community manager working with a local community from a developer or city government holds many personal meetings, works with negativity, predicts risks, and avoids them. With the help of communities, brands spread the brand ideology: the community manager identifies and communicates with community leaders, conveys the brand ideology to them.
Different community managers perform completely different tasks during the day, but here's a typical day for a specialist. Let’s look at the typical plan for the day:
● check the activity in the communities: reply to all comments, private messages to the group, comments in messengers, check all comments about the company with tags;
● think over "hot" issues and content strategy for the planned period of time;
● schedule meetings, calls, and events with colleagues and community members.
● draw up timing and a list of questions, add them to the task manager;
● analyze the responses of the questionnaires for the past period, draw up a “list of suggestions” for improving the product; hold a meeting with community leaders;
● write a post-release on the past event, mark all participants, get their opinion.
Social media marketing and community management are not the same things. The SMM manager acts as the voice of the brand, delivers branded content to the audience, and maintains the brand's strategy on social networks. The job of a community manager is different. Their task is not to broadcast the messages of the company, but to interact with people on their own behalf.
The task of an SMM manager is to provide an informational presence in social networks. The work of a community manager is aimed at building a community and maintaining a real dialogue with people. Of course, in doing so, they must ensure that the brand community is a space free of negativity.
In smaller companies, it is often the same person who performs both of these roles, but for larger brands, it is important that these positions are clearly separated. Moreover, the scope of work may be overwhelming for one person.
The brand community is not just one platform. In fact, the brand's community can be scattered all over the Internet: Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, Tik various forums, comments on various platforms, and articles. Your brand community consists of your current customers, your brand's target audience as a whole, and a host of other people who interact directly or indirectly with your brand on social media. It is clear that each audience requires a different approach.
The job of a community manager involves much more negotiation. Their unit of work is not a post, but a dialogue. They should listen to the opinion of the customer, accompany them all the way through the customer journey, encourage them to talk, promptly answer all the questions that arise, emphasize their value, evoke a loyal attitude towards the brand in them, and share their attitude with friends.
Here are 5 main reasons why your business needs a community manager:
1. The level of audience loyalty will increase
Research has shown that loyal customers make an average check 50% more than regular shoppers. It is the loyal audience that will support your business in times of crisis, so you need to build the closest relationships with such people. In addition, by communicating with users and promoting brand values, the community manager grows the company's advocates. Brand advocates will be more likely to write reviews and recommend products to others, thereby driving sales.
2. The volume of targeted traffic to the website will increase
Constant communication with users allows you to attract target customers to your website in order to get acquainted and then buy your products. It is loyal customers who are the first to be ready to test new products and share their experience with other people in their accounts, on forums, or on review sites. All this allows the brand to get warm targeted visitors without additional investment in advertising.
3. Lots of UGC or custom content will appear.
With a well-established community management strategy, you don't have to buy reviews, your audience will generate them on their own. Perhaps, at first, additional methods of stimulation will be needed, for example, free shipping or a discount, but then they will not be needed.
4. Additional resources will be found: ideas, employees, partners.
The community manager not only monitors consumer mentions of the brand and interacts with the audience, but they are also constantly looking for new resources to grow your business. On the one hand, in the process of collecting opinions, you find consumer insights, see trends, notice errors in a service or product - and all this comes from the first person (customers). On the other hand, you can find business partners, opinion leaders, or future employees.
5. The cost per lead will decrease.
No one today will deny that direct advertising does not work at 100%. A brand needs to realize that praising itself or its product is not as effective as praising it from a regular, real customer. It is better to invest not only in push tools such as retargeting, mailing, etc., but in your community.
If you want to have a "support group" for your business, create a community of people who are not indifferent to your brand. By properly managing this association, you can form a positive opinion, expand the circle of customers and strengthen your position in the market.
A community manager helps to establish close contact with the audience, increase the number of loyal consumers and brand advocates. It will help you survive the crisis, attacks from competitors and haters in the future, as well as build a strong reputation on the market and the Internet.
Community management helps to increase the flow of targeted traffic to the website and reduce the cost per lead. In addition, a specialist in community management is able to find new business partners and talented employees for you.