While brand managers have a growing appetite for digital as part of their communications mix, and spending on the build and functionality of platforms increases, it is worth remembering that it is effective online community management that will drive social media campaign success.
According to a new study by The Pivot Conference and Brian Solis, 67% of surveyed brand managers say they conduct some type of social media and another 18% plan to implement such activities in the next year.
Social media campaigns, while potentially very powerful, are not without their risks. The Internet is littered with examples of how a wrong tweet, post or comment has led to unfavourable global exposure and damage for a brand. As brands have increasingly turned to social media as a channel of choice to reach and engage target audiences and manage reputation, it is clear the responsibility borne by the online community management function has also grown.
Done well, online community management can lead to a thriving hub of brand ambassadors that can increase awareness, drive sales and build loyalty. Once the domain of interns and junior account team members, today, online community management warrants the attention of experienced practitioners, armed with the information and tools required to build, grow and manage the audiences the brand intends to engage online.
It is critical online community managers not only understand the brand values, but are also able to articulate the brand voice promptly, consistently and clearly in what can prove to be incredibly restrictive formats for effective communications. But this alone is not sufficient. A standard online community management toolkit would include, but not be limited to, social media and moderation policies, specialist online monitoring tools, escalation or crisis management plans and content/engagement calendars. There is a strong case to be made that, if any of these basic fundamentals are missing from your online community management framework, then you are probably not suitably prepared to commence with a social media campaign.
There is a lot at stake when brands choose to enter the realms of social media. Only by ensuring a robust understanding of the platform and supporting a suitably resourced online community management function with the appropriate tools and information, can brands be well positioned to succeed.