Building lasting brand relationships online is never easy. Throw in the COVID-19 wildcard where national stay-at-home orders have skyrocketed screen time and that relationship status turns from “happily taken” to straight up “it’s complicated.”
In these uncertain times, more audiences are flocking to social media to stay informed or escape reality. Community management which was once just a general maintenance tactic to answer audience questions or concerns has now become a brand’s most important channel of communication and engagement with audiences.
Now you may be thinking, “Woah, that’s a lot of responsibility that on top of everything else, I don’t have time for.” However, like any relationship, in order for it to succeed you’ve got to put in the work. If you’re in need of some general guidance, our social media experts here at Spitball share their 4 tips to stay on top of community management during times of crisis.
Embrace Your Authentic Brand Voice
Your brand voice is what ties your audience together, making your community unique and your content easily identifiable. While your tone is typically set in your strategy and built into your monthly content calendars, it is much more important to maintain as you interact directly with your audience. Think of community management as the less structured natural extension of your brand, where there is a great opportunity to bring a human element into an everyday conversation with your fans. Keep in mind that even though you may be behind a screen, the key to a successful conversation is authenticity. With government restrictions keeping in-person interaction at a minimum, now more than ever your audience wants to feel like they are actually conversing with another person, not a robot. Taking the time to personalize rather than quick cut-and-paste canned responses will go a long way in boosting engagement and brand loyalty.
Show Some Daily TLC
Online communities are a living thing and should be treated like so. Luckily for you, setting aside 30 minutes a day will go a long way in building a lasting and rewarding relationship with your audiences. In fact, actively engaging and sparking long threads of conversations on social media can actually help increase your organic search ranking. So how should you spend these 30 minutes you ask?
Well before you engage in any conversation, you should begin to identify which specific channels are most important to your brand. Is your audience more active on Twitter than Instagram? If so, allocate your efforts accordingly. That being said, be careful as to not “ghost” any channel you are actively posting scheduled content on. All questions and comments across each network should be attended to so a quick check in on the less active channels is still necessary on a daily basis.
Learn By Listening
Conversations aren’t a one way street but rather a collaboration. As much time as you spend leading the conversation as a brand, you should also sit back and listen. One of the major benefits from community management is that you have a first row seat to customer feedback. Whether it’s good or bad (trust us you’ll get plenty of both), you can use this information to make important decisions on your overall marketing strategy. Actively listening to your audience will allow you to thoughtfully engage with relevant responses making your audience feel heard and more importantly valued.
Reward Audience Loyalty
Your most loyal followers are essentially organic ambassadors for your brand. They actively share content featuring your product or services without major incentives, just because they really love what your brand has to offer. Show appreciation for this time and commitment by rewarding them for their loyalty online. This can be as simple as:
Liking or commenting on their posts
Re-sharing their post (where your brand is tagged) on your main feed or Stories
Shouting them out in a fan appreciation post on your main feed or Stories
Adventure Beyond the Content Calendar
Your community management strategy shouldn’t be limited to solely answering questions and comments on your own posts. Flex your brand’s personality and find additional strategic ways to engage in relevant conversations online. Whether it’s light-heartedly Tweeting at a competitor or responding to a prompt from an unrelated major brand (Wendy’s we’re looking at you) don’t be afraid to have a little fun when appropriate and help raise awareness about your brand.
Proceed with Calculated Caution
With great (communication) power, comes great responsibility. Community management at its core is meant to provide audiences with truly accurate information. Take your time and fully digest every consumer question that is posted before commenting back. Accidentally providing misinformation because you were “quickly skimming” could potentially damage your audience’s trust in your brand. Similarly, if you do choose to take the creative route in engaging with your audiences and competitors remember to be mindful. Social media is full of trolls that will try and bait you with controversial content. Instead of engaging with right away, avoid the temptation and pause to consider how the conversation will cast a light on your brand. If there is no positive outcome, leave the comments (and trolls) alone or remove them if absolutely necessary.
In our current world where people are turning online to find a sense of belonging and connectivity, it is integral to have your community management strategy in check to truly cultivate brand relationships that will last beyond the COVID era.