By Charlie Balk
Many major brands are making a major mistake when it comes to community management: they're not doing it. According to one study of 100 top global brands, 54% don't reply to people on Twitter.
Why don't they? Because it requires a lot of effort, planning, training, and logistics to set up a community management team. But for brands who are investing so much in digital and social campaigns, they will not get the same return if they don't invest in the community they are building through their marketing efforts.
In my opinion, Brands need (at least) one dedicated community manager--and I'm not talking about a part-time intern or customer service representative. Below are my top reasons why.
A community manager's primary job is to always -- day or night, rain or shine -- keep one eye on the community. In fact, 64% of community managers work longer than a 40 hour work week. With a full-time employee or team dedicated to community management, your brand will be able to respond more quickly. One study found that 34% of individuals who have reached out to brands on social media with a customer service issue expect a response within 30 minutes. So the pressure is on to respond quickly--and without full-time commitment to community management, it's difficult to keep up.
Knowledge and Tools
The key to handling any problem in a community is having superior knowledge of that community, as well as the social media landscape as a whole. This study explains just how many skills community managers have in their toolbox and the many platforms they are fluent in. Social networks are in constant flux, and when a change does happen, a dedicated community managers, who don't serve in any other role, are likely to be the first to know about them--and the first to adapt. The community managers here at Likeable are constantly batting ideas around about new features and how to optimize for our community.
It's difficult to achieve the same type of understanding of a community without spending a majority of your time engaging with it. As such, dedicated community managers often have a unique knowledge of their customers' experience and point of view. This knowledge and intel can be crucial for brands to best tailor their products and efforts to meet the needs of their customer base.
The biggest problem with major brands not responding on social is the poor reputation it creates. When people reach out to brands through social and they don't get a response, not only are they frustrated, but they assume many negative things about the brand: it's out of touch, unable to adapt, or rude. Think about who you might be ignoring: potential lifelong customers to potential investors. You can't afford not to be responsive. Good dedicated community managers don't just respond--they have the skills to respond better and faster than anyone else could. Here's just one example from a situation that Century 21 encountered:
The typical customer service response here would likely be to apologize for the mistake. But, the community manager was more clever than that:
And the critic was won over:
Community managers can help create customers and brand advocates, building an engaged community. (This study shows a 60% drop in visits in the absence of an active community manager.) In fact, many community managers are adept at taking complaining customers and flipping them into fans who are singing the brand's praises.
These are three reasons why brands need a dedicated community manager, but there are plenty more. What reason do YOU think it's essential to have community managers as part of marketing efforts?