One of the biggest mistakes in community management is assuming it is easy. While it might be monotonous at times and can be often streamlined by technology (and rightly so) there is a lot more to community management than moderation. The 7 key (somewhat simple in cases, but key nonetheless) variables that have to be in place in order for community management to be effective:
- Brand voice development: How does your brand communicate across multiple platforms? What would your brand say? What wouldn't say? How do you own an unique POV against your competitive set? These questions all have to be answered. The devil really is in the details. If you get the proper content calendar, permissioning and performance systems in place coupled with good technology, your voice and your voice's performance online will be easy to craft, measure and continuously optimize.
- Communications objectives: Social media at its core provides a direct dialogue and relationship between you and your consumer. What is that conversation like and what purpose does it provide for your consumer? And then, how does that align with your brand objectives? If you can answer the question of providing unique value, you've won.
- Best practices: Do your community managers and copywriters know what EdgeRank is? Do they know how to optimize for social SEO? Do they understand why sentence structure impacts content performance? Is the content you create optimized based upon distribution?
- Checks and balances: What is your plan for triage? How do you ensure copy and content goes up spelled accurately with appropriate grammar (or not, if that isn't the intention...)? What is your policy for consumer engagement - frequency, response time, customer service? Once you open the door, you have to be prepared to manage the footsteps that walk through it.
- Exit strategy: Although your brand likely won't be taking a leave of absence from Facebook anytime soon, you should always have a plan for entering, sustaining and then exiting a network or community should you want to go that route. Same for audience niche activation within influencer marketing or blogger initiatives.
- Accountability: How do the KPIs that matter (engagements, acquisitions, engagements per acquisitions, impressions, etc) tie back to community efforts? It is your responsibility to incentivize audience performance and growth and put the onus on the implementation team to ensure management is done at a level that well represents your brand. By rewarding them for good performance you're taking a step towards guaranteeing quality content deployment and community management.
- Evolution: As the daily content managers, updaters and copywriters are often at the low end of your company totem pole, what does their plan look like long term and how do you maintain consistency while retaining top talent for future opportunity growth? What happens once they craft and perfect the voice of your brand and then want to move onto the next role, elevated a bit up the ladder? You must create a clear path for these roles and then ensure you create a voice that is managed internally and not tied to an individual.