This post was originally written by Elinor Cohen on LinkedIn and gained a lot of traction. It was also featured on LinkedIn pulse and is still shared quite often. Read the original post here.
A few days ago I saw a quote from Brian Solis saying: “Live your brand the way your customer is“. Brian could not be more right, but sadly this could not be more different and distant from the way online marketing is practiced, at least around me.
Community Management is often perceived as being “social media management+”, i.e. social media management, perhaps with a bit of extra “attention” to the community members.
However, Community Management, at least the way I practice it, is a lot more than that. It is what makes the difference between getting someone to visit your site or download your app and actually converting them to a paying customer and retaining them. In other words, running a campaign to get people to like a page on Facebook, click an ad and visit a website or download an app is easy. It’s a matter of practice and budget really. You don’t even have to be a professional social media manager to run a successful campaign.
But what happens after the “Like”/”click” depends on two key factors:
1. Content – it should be interesting and give real value to the reader/user.
2. Community Management – someone should actually communicate with the person, find out what they need, why they clicked an ad or liked a page or downloaded the app and make sure they get it.
Some real life examples (from my work as an outsourced community manager with clients from various sectors):
Client sells hardware. Client has good media coverage, lots of people are interested and buy. However, the client fails to deliver the product (due to various reasons beyond the clients’ control). The customers are mad, cancellation requests pour in. As a community manager I talk to each of them, I listen to their complaints, I re-assure, check their order status, make sure the company is aware, see that proper compensation is offered for the delays. The results – most cancellations do not go through. Customers agree to wait and even thank us for the “service”.
Client offers holiday rentals. Before active community management, client used to get inquiries, answer them as best they could, often with a delay and in poor English, and most of them wouldn’t follow through. Hardly any bookings were made. With active community management I make sure to answer each inquiry as soon as it arrives, I follow it up, I offer a lot of information on the location, the property and even help the potential guest plan their entire trip, I offer itineraries, I recommend attractions, restaurants. I communicate with them online and on the phone. I make them fall in love with the place even before they arrive. The result: fully booked for the summer, happy guests and great reviews!
Technology Start-up – life saving medical device
Client develops a life saving medical device. Client had a website that was outdated, didn’t look good and was impossible to operate and update. There was no social media presence either. With correct strategic planning a new website was constructed, social media presence established and good interesting content written. An Active blog has been added and requests for information as well as interest in investing in the company started pouring in from the website. Active community management means I not only take care of the content, social media, PR and investor relations but also answer each and every email arriving, making sure people get the information they require and agree to be added to the mailing list. This way, even though the product is not yet on the market it already has a large community of evangelists and clients ready to pay as soon as it hits the market.
Remember – it is the way you treat people that is important. Make them feel they matter to you and you will matter to them.