Five tips on social media community management

  • A strong foundation of trust can be built before you turn your communities into customers who spend more
  • Honesty is perhaps the single most important thing you need to remember when you’re on social media

Five tips on social media community managementEXCELLENT community management is the cornerstone of any social media presence. One aspect of social media is about building engaged communities for your brand – a merry band of advocates who spread positive word-of-mouth for you.
The benefits of managing this aspect well is your communities will feel empowered; quality data can be collected and leveraged as insights; customer service satisfaction can be improved; and to also help quell a potential crisis.
Most importantly, this allows a strong foundation of trust to be built before you turn your communities into customers who spend more with you.
Towards that end, how do you ensure that your community manager or agency is doing all the right things? You need to rest easy at night knowing that policies and procedures are in place to manage any type of engagement, positive or negative, that comes your way.
In this instalment, I will share five tips that will give you the confidence that your communities will be well managed.

1) Honesty
This is what keeps you from getting into a DEFCON 1 situation with your brand reputation and customers. Honesty and being transparent is perhaps the single most important thing you need to remember when you’re on social media.
Keep in mind that the power has shifted to your consumers; your locus of control has shrunk! You may be able to get away with half-truths, marketing euphemisms and more in advertising, but please do not EVER risk this on social media.
There’s always that one college kid who has free time on his hands to research your claims and spot your mistakes. If there is a service breakdown or a product is broken – admit it, apologise and state what you will do to fix it.

2) Timeliness 

If you thought responding to customers within 24 hours is tough, be prepared to up your game when you get into social media. Your customers expect answers within two hours (30 minutes is best, even if it’s only a placeholder or acknowledgement).
Service Level Agreements and Standard Operating Procedures need to be put into place to manage these expectations so that your fans receive answers in a timely manner.
If you can’t answer a questions immediately, state how long you expect it to take (based on your estimates; then add another 50%) and make sure an answer is found by then.

3) Tone of voice

How will you sound like on social media? Most organisations have a Corporate Identity which dictates pretty much everything about how a brand is represented.
Has it been updated to reflect your goals on social media? If no, it’s time to look at it (also the best time for you to make suggestions to your boss).
My advice is to employ a tone of voice that fits your primary market on social media. It is usually easier for fun, well-loved brands or FMCGs (fast-moving consumers goods companies) and tougher for corporate brands.
Five tips on social media community managementFor example, it would be easier for Coke or Nike to engage with fans versus ING Insurance or Siemens Healthcare.
For Coke or Nike, the opportunities on social media are so much easier to leverage, whereas customers generally perceive brands such as ING or Siemens as corporate, serious, etc.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun if you’re a “serious” brand – you can be a little different on social media.
A great example is that of Progressive Insurance and its “always happy-to-help insurance clerk” Flo (
To summarise, once you figure out your primary market, decide what tone of voice will be suitable to engage with them.

4) Tool selection 

To use a tool or not depends on your budget and needs. You can manage your social media account without the use of third party tools. However, many large brands use third party tools (e.g. Salesforce) for various reasons.
Examples include workflow for content creation and approvals, task assignment, password management, CRM (customer relationship management) and more.
If you’re going to pay to use a tool (I usually recommend you pay instead of using freeware), make sure the tool fits your needs and don’t fall for the overly fancy stuff. This space continues to change rapidly so go with a brand that continuously updates its tools; excellent customer support is also important.
If you’re integrating the tools with your other CRM software, make sure the local resellers are capable and check the market for feedback about their service levels.

5) Stop and breathe
This is the last tip, but definitely not the least important. Very often a crisis erupts on social media because your community manager (or you) breaks down from the constant barrage of negative comments from the community.
This is normal – if I were to shout at you all day, you’d lash out too, wouldn’t you?
The role of a community manager can easily consume a person because you’re the frontline of the brand on social media and it is easy to take things personally.
Therefore, before you, your team or agency posts a reply – stop and breathe! Remember that it’s not personal; the fan or follower isn’t attacking you; and that this is just part of the job. If you need to take a break, go for it – do anything that helps you keep sane.
These five tips are not the only ones to keep in mind when you get into social media and are merely the starting point for you to start on the right foot.
With the amount of information on the Internet, just Google “community management tips” and you’ll be able to get more hot tips. If you have any questions or tips to share, do comment below.
Until then, good luck!
Jagdish Singh Malhi is an ex-banker turned marketing and communications specialist with a deep interest in brands using technology and data to meet business objectives, and has been on both sides of the client/ agency divide.

Previous Instalments:

10 components of a social media strategy (Part I)

10 components of a social media strategy (Part II)

Tips on hiring a social media agency/ consultant/ ninja/ guru

Clueless about social media for business? Follow this …

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