Managing a community is hard work. It involves constant time spent analyzing data, looking for and creating relevant content, planning new posts, and interacting with members. If you want to succeed as a community manager and sleep more than 3 hours a night, you need help.
Here are five areas where the right tool will help save you invaluable time and energy. While I’ll give a specific example under each heading, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to try more than one tool. See what works best for you and go with it.
Bringing Socrates into the 21st century, the unexamined community is not worth growing.
Keeping a close eye on analytics will help you understand how your community operates. How do people find you? Where do they come from? How do they interact with your site? How much time do they spend in any one place? Which pages bounce visitors the most?
A program like Google Analytics will help you discover the answers to these questions in one comprehensive and easy-to-use package. With that knowledge, you can optimize your community experience to draw people in and keep them engaged.
2. Brand Listening
Conversations—the key to growing any community—don’t happen unless you’re listening. To effectively attract new people to your community and provide relevant info for the those who are already there, you need to continually monitor the web for the conversations that matter to your business and community.
A service like Sysomos will help you decide which people and topics you need to be keeping track of. Even better, it will make it easy for you keep tabs on them, curate the best information, and push that content out directly to your community. They even include their own limited analytics package.
3. Content Planning
Your community needs a consistent selection of high value content to grow and thrive. Without a strategic plan, however, that steady diet can end up devolving into something like a Saturday night binge at the Golden Corral. Spare your members the all you can eat shoe-leather steak; put together a plan that drips out valuable content at a predictable and helpful rate.
Trello is a great tool for collecting and planning your content distribution. Using a highly visual interface, you can create multiple stacks for different conversation topics or forms of content. You can then organize those stacks to give you a cohesive structure for content planning.
One of the best ways to engage with your community is to walk them through compelling content personally. If you're a software provider, then that might be a tutorial on how to maximize a particular feature in your program. If you're a video gaming community, that might involve a walkthrough, explainer, or a review.
Camtasia is an easy-to-use program that will let you record screencasts with a minimum of fuss and production. It's intuitive design and host of editing and sharing features make it easy to record and share videos quickly across several social platforms.
5. Customer Service
Successful communities are increasingly integrating online customer service into their community management efforts. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you’ll find ways to work with your customer service department.
Self-serve customer support forums are great for dealing with repetitive problems and issues. From the perspective of search engine visibility, online community-based customer support generates a healthy supply of indexable content. Consequently, you’re eventually going to attract visitors with similar questions who may never have experienced your brand before.
To convert these new visitors, you need to train your support staff to think like marketers. In answering questions, they shouldn’t assume your customers know how to make the best use of your products.
That’s it for now. I hope these tools will be helpful to you. Is there anything that I’ve missed? What community management tools have you found to be indispensable to your success?