5 Brilliant Ways to Staff for Community Management

By Carrie Kerpen

We hear it all the time– brands need to respond. According to a recent Socialbakers study, companies currently respond to 50% of questions asked across social media, with 75% of questions anticipated to be answered in 2013. But how can brands’ staff appropriately be able to manage the increasing level of conversation across the web without investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in overhead? I asked several colleagues and clients this very question and thought their responses were brilliant. Here are some quick ideas to help you manage the daunting task of engaging with your community:

1. Think customer service. Who handles your customer service today? Social Media tends to start in the marketing department. Usually there’s a social media manager who handles community management all day and night. It leads to quick burnout, and a whole lot of stress. Typically, customer service departments have hours that are more conducive to social media. Plus, your Customer Service team is probably the best equipped to answer that random question that no one else in the company knows.


2. Find “the natural.” Chances are, there’s someone in your company right at this moment who is updating their Tumblr while pinning to Pinterest and instagramming their lunch. There’s an immense opportunity to tap into an employee’s passion, and help your brand in the process. People who understand tone in social media don’t just live in the Marketing Department. Consider doing a survey across the company about social media, and search for your next social media superstar. If they truly love social media, they’ll be happy to help, and they may find a new career path in the process.


3. Engage a true partner. Partners come in all shapes and sizes. Agencies, Contractors, Consultants….you can’t take three steps without running into someone offering to help with your “social media”. While the world is filled with social media “gurus”, “ninjas” and self proclaimed “superstars”, there are some incredible partners that really understand the space. When engaging a partner in something as intimate as Community Management,  you want someone who truly is willing to invest the time to become an extension of your brand. Note: even if you can’t engage a partner full time for your community management needs– consider utilizing them for nights and weekends. Otherwise, you’ll have some pretty high turnover for your internal social media team.


4. Use tools efficiently. Don’t be afraid to use tools to help you. My favorite tool for straight community management is Conversocial. Built for customer service, it has a self-learning prioritization tool that helps you see the messages that you need to see most. Other tools like Hootsuite and Radian6 are great for listening beyond direct mentions of your brand. Try a bunch and see what feels best for you.


5. Keep it Fresh. When overwhelmed by the concept of community management, the default reaction is to write a list of FAQs and go through the infamous “copy/paste” dance. Try manually responding. While you think its’ more labor intensive, it’s actually MUCH more natural, and therefore, often ends up taking less time than trying to make the copy/paste canned response not seem canned.


How does YOUR organization scale social media community management? Any tips I missed here?

[...] path may not offer enough hours, but either way, churn in your social media employees is a real problem, and hurts your [...]
[...] path may not offer enough hours, but either way, churn in your social media employees is a real problem, and hurts your [...]
[...] and community management. Kelly Lux posted an article to the #cmgrclass Google+ community entitled, 5 Brilliant Ways to Staff for Community Management. The author noticeably blurs the characteristics of the two. If companies could decipher between [...]
Gustavo J. Chavez February 22, 2013
Hi Carrie! Great article! Thanks so much for including us. I was particularly drawn to #3, which is one that most people overlook quite often. Partners, just like industry influencers, are definitely an extension of your brand, for better or worse. That being said, if you have the option of leveraging your relationships with partners for expanding the brand's voice and improving sentiment, then it should be a no-brainer (even if it doesn't seem simple!). Again, thanks for the post! Gustavo Chavez (@gustavojchavez) Community Manager | Salesforce Marketing Cloud
Michal Smetana February 22, 2013
Using social media as a customer service is not only very polite and user-friendly for your customers, but it can generate really much traffic, brand awareness and if done correctly and in a funny was - like the examples you used in this article - it can become viral and that's something priceless. Last year, we could se a similar example done by Bodyform in response to Richard Neill. These things are just great and brands should focus on that.
Brittany Berger February 20, 2013
I love the suggestion to respond manually. There are lots of different ways to say the same thing, even within 140 characters. There's nothing like going to a brand's Twitter page and seeing the same tweets over and over again. It screams 'canned response.' Responding manually can also allow you to match the tone of the original tweeter you're responding to.
Anthony Onesto February 20, 2013
At Big Fuel we also looked for creative writers, because as you know, social moves at the speed of culture, so you don't always have access to creative strategists. This has worked well for us - writers, reporters, etc.

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