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Think community first

I’d like for you to think back a number of years to a time when being a manager or community manager was one of the most sought after gigs around. We were the explorers, testing out new platforms, strategies and above all – being the human voice to our brand’s purpose.

Then we learnt that content is king and shifted our energy to creating crafted copy and creative executions that could live ‘absolutely anywhere’ on social, and our glorification of community management got knocked down a few notches. The truth is that content may be king, but without great community management, great content dies a slow digital death.

It’s all about striking a balance and giving your content the best chance at success by understanding a few key points on great community management.

Know your community

More often than not, we’ve all got our digital marketing hats on when we think about social media strategies. While this is great for thinking up any idea, it isn’t always the best hat to be wearing when thinking about the best idea for a specific audience. Knowing your community is something I cannot stress enough. We need to be fully immersed in the way our community talks, interacts, consumes and shares content if we ever hope to create and execute great ideas. Community management is more than a CRM tool, or a way to ‘improve brand sentiment’ – it’s a grassroots view of your audience that provides a wealth of insights. Time and again we see brilliant concepts that are executed on the wrong platform, to the wrong audience or in the wrong tone. While creative conceptualisation is vital, a considered approach to the Social Media execution is crucial.

Think about your relationship

Design messiah Todd Waterbury mentions that a key to building any brand is thinking about the relationship that consumers have with the brand. Once you’ve understood the state of the relationship, you have to think about the long term plan and steps to revive, repair or grow the relationship. I think of community management in the same way, except instead of having to ‘spray and pray’ with a wide-reaching campaign, you get to take on the groundwork. This may mean more time spent engaging, but it also means exclusive access to the kind of community insights we spend days on end trying to understand.

Move from transaction to interaction

We conceptualise beautiful strategies and campaigns that translate into great content, but we feed them to our community and leave it at that. We hope that by giving (content), we will receive (engagement). We forget (or even worse, discredit) the fact that while we are waiting for our audiences to initiate a conversation, our communities are conversing with one another. Making the move towards interacting with your community doesn’t require a hefty set of framework, just a little more time and a big dash of passion for what you’re trying to achieve. What it requires, however, is a deep understanding of the brand and its content pillars.

Optimise always

Being a great CM (Community Manager) or SMM (Social Media Manager) means going beyond. You have to be willing to go beyond passively engaging with your community. You also have to be a part-time strategist to gather the most useful insights; but those insights mean nothing if you aren’t listening to them. If your community engages less with video than they do with GIFs, why force another video their way in the hope that their consumption habits will change?

Know your community, understand how they feel about you and interact with them accordingly. Keep your ear to the ground and listen to what your community has to say. Then take that information and create better content, deliver it to your audience in a better way and provide value for them as a brand through stellar community management.

Think community first.



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