Dos and don’ts in community management
Due to the constant change in social media, the reactions of users have also increased in recent years. In this article, we summarise what you as a company should definitely consider in community management.
What is community management all about?
The share of social media users has increased significantly in the last two years – from 3.46 billion users in 2019 to 4.2 billion users in 2021. According to an online study by ARD and ZDF, Instagram and Facebook are among the most frequently used channels. The increase in users has also led to an increase in comments and posts created by users themselves, so-called user-generated content. Hardly any post remains uncommented. And this increase not only has an impact on the discussions between users themselves, but can also influence and possibly damage the image of a company. Marketing managers should therefore not ignore community management in their tasks..
But what is behind this term? Community management is the organisation and, above all, the management of an online community. The community can be represented on social media, but also in various forums. And this does not only include answering comments under one’s own posts. Many companies even run their own groups on Facebook and the like and manage them.
Advantages of community management
It is no secret that social media should be an important part of almost every company. But not only should the creation of social media content be creative and user-specific. It is also important that you observe and react to user reactions and thus use the immense potential of this support, i.e. community management!
- Perception as an expert with good customer service:
If you respond to comments, such as questions about products, and provide assistance, users will not only thank you as part of good customer service, but you will also be perceived as an expert who can answer users’ complex questions.
- Strengthening your customer loyalty:
Well thought-out community management plays an important role, especially for customer loyalty. Communicate with users, actively ask them for their opinion or even product suggestions.
- Use feedback internally:
Use user feedback for product or service improvements and don’t ignore it. Can you identify patterns? For example, do users like the taste of the previous chocolate better or is customer service too slow?
- Statement shows responsibility:
Take a stand on critical comments or allegations and do not let viral false claims run wild – keyword crisis management. In doing so, you not only show a quick reaction, but also responsibility. As part of this, also pay attention to comments that speak against the guidelines (racist statements, insults) and hide such comments – help ensure that such statements are not tolerated!
There are many more advantages to be mentioned, which is why you should do community management. But not every company has a social media manager and the necessary human resources.
But you should definitely respond to comments that portray your company badly, and also value positive feedback on the other hand. In addition, many users seek advice via social media and see the social channels as another service channel. Therefore, you should definitely treat these channels as such an interface as well. According to a study by clutch.co, 90% of social media users expect to receive a response in less than 24 hours.
Types of community management
There are different ways in which you as a company respond to comments and posts: e.g. more informative or more interactive. To do this, you should be clear about the type of community you are managing. It helps to use the SPACE model developed by CMX, a community for professional community managers.
Here, community members help each other. The focus is on complex products, as these require a little more explanation.
In this community, companies can draw on feedback from users and adapt products to their needs. Members give their feedback on products, e.g. in the form of surveys.
Here, active members act as brand ambassadors and communicate with the other members on behalf of your brand.
The community itself provides the content that makes up the product. For example, users on Airbnb post offers themselves.
The feeling of belonging plays a strong role here. Users feel connected to each other because they share the same goal. For example, there are many fitness communities that are run by companies and motivate users to exchange ideas.
Steps in community management:
Once you are clear about the type of community you are serving, you should consider the following steps before implementation:
Wählen Sie die Kanäle aus, auf denen sich Ihre User äußern oder auf denen Sie mit Ihren Usern in Kontakt treten möchten. Dies können soziale Kanäle, aber auch Foren sein.
2. Target group:
What makes your target group tick? What are the demographic characteristics? You should ask yourself these questions in order to be able to answer the comments / contributions appropriately.
3. Community Management Guidelines:
Determine how you communicate with your target group – in other words, in what style. And work closely with other company departments to offer the right solutions or answer questions accurately. Nothing goes down worse with the community than questions that are not understood and answered completely wrong.
Establish a process to respond to comments quickly and not half-heartedly. For complex questions, you should define contact persons from different departments to enable quick response times. Unfortunately, users do not forget when they are not helped at all or too late, and they make this known in comments.
5. Goals and KPIs:
Set important goals that are designed according to the SMART principle and are measurable via certain KPIs such as the number of positive reactions.
Dos and Don‘ts
In the context of community management, you can make mistakes (even if they may be well-intentioned) that can have lasting effects. In order to avoid mistakes and properly use the great potential behind them, there are the following points you should consider:
- Make sure you always communicate with users at eye level. In other words, do not apologise for your products, but only if the user has had a bad experience. Never answer from above and always take concerns seriously if they are constructive!
- Respond at least within 24 hours to meet the fast response times so often expected today.
- Use the feedback from your customers. Take it with you to the next meeting.
- You should avoid interfering in users’ discussions at all costs. If insults occur, advise users to delete comments containing insults and hide them.
- Another point you should bear in mind is that you should respond to criticism and ensure clarity here. If the user finds the product bad – ask him why, but also stand by your products. Not everyone can and will find everything and everyone good. Nevertheless, try to understand the criticism objectively, maybe you can further improve your products and services with the help of the feedback.
Reaction to contribution types
Now we have summarised for you what to pay attention to in general. But how should you react to the different types of contributions?
Ignoring is usually bad and should be avoided. You should thank users for positive feedback and also follow up, i.e. show interest. Ask which products he/she likes best or how he/she implements certain recipes. Nevertheless, there are not only positive comments, but unfortunately also many critical contributions, sometimes even aggressive ones. Be careful not to tolerate insults and to hide these comments and also to block and report users in case of seriousness.
But: You should always take constructive criticism seriously and address the concerns of users. Can you improve your products in this respect? Feel free to ask further questions – even by private message. The main thing is that you always speak at eye level.
Out of theory – into practice! We have taken a look at various companies from different sectors and show you a few examples of how other companies implement their community management: From informative to creative to interactive.
Kaufland responds to the majority of user comments and encourages social media users to post likes and comments. Here, users are given positive feedback that is not only personal but also takes place at eye level. For example, Kaufland gives advice about its products in a relaxed way when a user comments that he prefers a different product.
Aldi goes one step further on the personal level and uses names of the community managers. The company thus shows that there is a “real” person behind the comments and makes community management a lot more personal than the typical “your XY social media team”. Concrete answers are provided to a question about how expensive a certain product is. The manager went out of his way to reveal more details here.
Sparkasse responds in great detail on its Facebook channel and takes a concrete stance on criticism. It also does not insist on not making mistakes and admits to an error in an article, for example. In this way, the Sparkasse shows communication at eye level and takes responsibility.
Like Aldi, Volkswagen also responds individually to the comments and gives a specific name of the manager. In the example post shown here, a user is asked for pictures of his new car – so interaction is the focus here. Users even share a photo of their car directly and thus create real user-generated content – the goal of all social media marketing!
On Facebook, Audi shares pictures of customers in a post and generates a lot of engagement. Other users share their individual photos in the comments and interact with each other. This not only boosts the engagement of the post, but also positively influences other users’ perception of Audi: #WirsindeineCommunity.
Depending on the size of the company and the amount of comments, community management should be considered as a separate division within marketing. Community managers should always be in regular contact with other departments and be up-to-date in order to be able to respond independently and quickly. Because the bigger the company, the bigger the coordination rounds – and that should clearly be avoided here. Simplify your process and define a contact person for each department who can help you and who should have the answers directly at hand. If you follow the tips listed, you will make your company more accessible through interactions with users and deepen your customer relationships in a positive sense. Use the numerous advantages and offer your customers an active exchange, service and appreciation!
You would like advice on a suitable strategy in social media marketing and community management – feel free to contact us!