Community Management Guide: Overview and Tips

Some companies are quickly achieving success through engaging branding and interested customers. It's only natural to want that success for yourself as you struggle to get your social profiles and brand awareness to gain traction. You've probably heard the term «community management,» but you think it's unnecessary because you already have a social media marketing strategy. 
Community management is a major part of building a thriving and loyal audience both on and off social media. It can help build strong and genuine relationships with your followers that can improve your digital and social presence. This, in turn, can give you more control over your brand narrative and turn longtime customers into loyal followers. 
In this guide, we'll go over everything you need to know about community management and answer some critical questions, like what is a community manager and what they do.
What is community management? 
Community management is the process of creating, facilitating, and leading an authentic and engaged community of customers, employees, vendors, and followers. These techniques can be used in person or online, and you can create a single neighborhood across multiple platforms. 
This gives your brand a more human voice that allows you to build real relationships when addressing complaints, building supporters, connecting with influencers, networking with brands, and getting feedback. It also allows brands to have a voice in any conversation related to their brand, so they can be a quiet voice in the comments section. 
The idea is to create a strong network with the brand at the center, making the brand an invaluable participant in the process and allowing managers to help shape the brand narrative along the way. 
It's important to note that community management is a broad industry — these are just some of the things that community management allows your business to do.
«Community management» is an umbrella term that often encompasses many different people and departments in large brands, including customer service, social media, sales, marketing, and communications, at a minimum, though typically, the social media team is the most frequent and consistent «figurehead» of customer service efforts.
Why is community management critical?
Community management is critical for small businesses, especially those making a name for themselves. 
The most significant benefit is the ability to make your brand «bigger» than your brand, product, or service to your customers. 

Let's say you have a boutique gym. People come in, they work out, and they leave. They like the experience, but over time they may go if they find something cheaper or newer or even if they just get bored. But community members become more interested if you foster a community with group exercises, face-to-face challenges, and discussions in an online Facebook group. They feel part of the group, they make friends, and it becomes much harder to leave in search of a cheaper service. 
Community management also provides the following benefits: 
  • The ability to get new ideas and feedback from your clients and audience members through direct communication.
  • Offers support when it's needed
  • Increasing product and brand awareness among your target audience 
  • Gains new insights into your audience's needs, expectations and motivations 
  • Increases interactions, conversions, and sales within your brand. 
  • If you're not actively investing in community management, there's a good chance you could be missing out on the following opportunities:
  • Quickly addressing, managing, and resolving customer complaints.
  • Turning customers into advocates and loyal customers 
  • Identifying, engaging, and recruiting influencers, brand ambassadors, and partners
  • Find other brands to partner with 
  • Get honest feedback on products, both existing and beta-tested. 
  • Be part of the conversation. 

How to build a community of interest using social media
Earlier in this guide, we defined what a community of interest is; now, let's look at an example of how you can build a community of interest strategy through social media.
Step 1: Choose a social media channel 
You can have multiple social media channels for your business (and, in fact, this is welcome), but choosing one primary point of contact to build a community can be a good choice. 
Think about your target audience and where they are most likely to be. For example, younger users are more likely to visit TikTok than those in their 30s, and LinkedIn is a better choice for professional groups.
The Facebook group feature is always an exceptional choice; most demographic groups have Facebook accounts, and this tactic allows you to include customers in closed, exclusive groups. This can generate more discussion, engagement, and honesty as a result. 

Keep in mind that you are actively managing your community on multiple platforms at once, but having a separate point of contact, such as a Facebook or LinkedIn group, to increase focus can be an advantage. 
Step 2: Identify your audience 
You have a social media channel (or two or three), and now all that's left is to find your audience.
You need to understand what segments of your target audience are on that particular platform, how they want to interact with brands, and what type of content they like.
Market research is a good choice here. You can look at your competitors' high-performing accounts to see what helps them get results. Do they have thriving private Facebook groups? Long-form content on LinkedIn or regular contests on Instagram? 
Take the best ideas from your competitors if you think they will work for your audience. 
Step 3: Set community rules and guidelines 
  • Do you have in-person meetings, an online office group, or some forum?
  • You can set community rules and guidelines, and you should. 
This is harder to implement for a page or public account, where you still have to moderate comments, but you don't have to focus on creating a community.
However, any group allows you to create rules that its members must follow if they want to be allowed to participate.
Remember, you want your business community rules to represent your business well. They will serve as an image of your brand, and that's important. The rules will keep your group from taking on a life of its own in the worst possible way.
And can ensure that your community works for you, not against you. 
Here's how you can set rules for your community:
  • Put them all in writing and keep them visible at all times. Facebook groups have a section with rules you can ask new members to agree to. You can also post a link to a file outlining the community rules online. If new regulations are ever added, announce them in the group so that no one misses them.
  • Be clear about the consequences. Usually, rule breakers get a warning the first time, a suspension the second time, and a permanent ban the third time, depending on the rule broken, but that's up to you. Make sure you clearly explain what will happen if rules are broken.
  • Ask users to flag anything they're not happy with. If they know who the moderators and administrators are, they can go directly to them if they see a rule violation or something that bothers them.
  • Be careful about your rules. Consider including regulations such as prohibiting discrimination, political arguments, and discussions, and prohibiting screenshots of posts in the group and sharing them outside of the group. 

If your community is moderated by more than one team member, familiarize everyone with problem-solving procedures.
Step 4: Establish your brand voice and tone 
It's important to maintain a consistent brand voice at all times. This is key to authenticity and brand building, especially when it comes to online interactions. 
If your account sounds like it's run by Kristen Bell one day and Mickey Rourke the next, people will need clarification and leave. 
Every brand should have its own unique voice. Are you going to be exceptionally professional and informative? Friendly and casual? Useful yet witty and entertaining? 

Think about what you want to accomplish, and then train all team members interacting with the community to realize that voice. For this reason, training your social marketing team is critical, but your customer service, sales, and marketing teams, in general, should be as well. 
Step 5: Track conversations related to your brand 
You should monitor all conversations about your brand. 
Social listening is observing what people are saying about you, even if they're not saying it to you. You can find these discussions on social media with a quick search or by using social listening tools like Mention. 
Keep track of what people are saying and the sentiment, and look for new opportunities. If you see a crisis in customer service, step in and offer to fix the situation. Unless it's something urgent and directed at you, you can always sit on the sidelines, take note and not engage directly unless the message has been left on your page or noted by you. 
The key word here is «monitoring» to help you gauge the health and reach of your community. 
Step 6: Measure and analyze the results 
As your community grows, it's essential to track progress. Otherwise, how will you know if your community has grown?
While metrics depend on the type of community you have, the specific goals you've set, and where your group is located (including online and offline), it's usually helpful to track the following results:
  • Attendance
  • The number of posts made by users in your group, forum, or online social pages 
  • Positive feedback
  • Number of subscribers 
  • Sales, especially if you offer trackable promo codes for various niches of community members. 
  • Website Traffic
  • Requests to join your group 
  • The number of positive conversations happening around your brand 
  • Third-party analytics tools. Your e-commerce or sales software can help you track sales growth, what coupon codes were used, and new and returning customers. You can also use tools like Google Analytics (which is free) to see where traffic to your site is coming from, how users interact with your site, and how that leads to purchases.
  • Native platform analytics. All social media sites have their own analytics available for business accounts, and many offer it for groups on the platform if the feature is available. Use them to effectively measure changes in engagement from month to month. See how users are interacting with your content and with each other, and find opportunities to increase engagement in the future. 
Step 7: Explore new ways to engage your community 
If you want your community to thrive now and in the future, it's essential to ensure you find new ways to engage users.
Sometimes a new group or community can be enjoyable and exciting just because it's new, but then the luxury fades, and engagement drops off dramatically. Unfortunately, this happens all too often.
To keep your community growing, keep it fresh, diverse and exciting. Adapt to changes in your industry and community-building practices, as both will change over time. 
Here are a few examples of how you can apply new strategies to keep things interesting:
  • Hold guessing games in which the people who first guess the correct answer get a prize. 
  • Hold community contests with tiered prizes. 
  • Try new platform features like Instagram Lives, TikTok, or Facebook Watch Parties. 
  • Constantly add new resources to the community, such as new educational video series or even modules in Facebook groups. 
  • Create various content types using different media to get people interested in what you post next. 
Hold local community events that go above and beyond, such as asking people to donate gifts to underprivileged children for Christmas or hosting a barbecue for everyone in the community to celebrate the anniversary of your activities. 
If you need more ideas, be sure to ask your audience what they want. They'll almost certainly tell you, and they'll probably give you some outstanding ideas that you might not have thought of. And since they will tell you exactly what they want, it will be much easier for you to provide it in turn. 
Social Media Community Management Tips
Below you'll find some helpful tips and best practices when building a community management strategy through social media.
  • Set goals and KPIs. Determine exactly what you want your community to accomplish before publishing content, as well as the key performance indicators you'll use to measure progress toward those goals. Track them over time; community management is a long-term strategy. 
  • Establish rules. Rules help keep your community organized and represent your brand well. Create your own rules if necessary.
  • Keep a close eye on your community. Keep an eye on your community. Check what's been posted and read the comments. Your brand's reputation will suffer the most if things get out of hand.
  • Maintain a consistent brand voice. To build a strong brand reputation, you must be consistent in your communications and interactions with your community.
  • Offer relevant and timely content. To increase community engagement, an important step is to include relevant and timely content.
  • Offer value. If your community is valuable to someone, especially if you share information or form connections, they will stay with you and participate more often.
  • Use social media management tools. Although community management includes more than just social media, the two are closely integrated in many cases. Using social media management tools will help you stay on top of all comments, post promptly, and respond quickly.
  • Be authentic. When you join a community, members want to make real connections with real people. You're not «just» a brand; show them the faces behind the brand, even if they are carefully chosen.
  • Be appreciative. People spend time buying your product or service and participating in the community you create. Be grateful for all of this, and remember the words «please» and «thank you.»  
Managing a community is not an easy task, but it is worth the effort because of the exceptional benefits you can receive.
Proper and consistent community management can lead to increased brand awareness, higher customer retention rates, increased sales, and more passionate and loyal customers. As you grow a community centered around your brand, you become more valuable than just your products or services because your audience loves the community, too. It can become part of their identity, making your brand a more meaningful part of their lives.