You would be hard pressed to find a business today that isn’t aware of the importance of community management. But at the same time, it’s not always clear what community strategy should look like. One of the thorniest issues when it comes to creating a plan is how to use community management as a marketing tool.
Below, we look at some of the characteristics of community management, and discuss how they can be used in marketing.
1. Positive Customer Experiences
Interacting directly with customers is one of the most important things a business can do to create positive customer experiences. But communicating effectively at every stage of the lifecycle can be difficult. Community management acts as a marketing tool by maximizing your ability to share relevant information via the medium customers and prospects want to receive it. This might take the form of letting the community know about a great promotion currently running via Facebook; it can also be providing the information necessary to solve a customer’s problem on Twitter. But no matter what form it takes, providing value wherever and whenever the customer is looking for it creates the type of positive customer experiences that are the cornerstone of marketing.
2. Effective Content Distribution
Content distribution is one of the most important tools that marketers have at their disposal. But even the best content is not going to generate ROI if it doesn’t find the proper audience. That’s why finding the right distribution channels for content is just as important as the content itself. Because many of the people in a business’s online community are open to hearing more about its products and services, community management acts as a marketing tool by allowing content to be shared in a forum where it’s likely to have a larger impact.
3. Brand Perception Influence
A positive brand image is critical for businesses looking to grow the bottom line, which is why most good brands are sensitive to how they are being perceived. By providing direct interaction with customers and potential customers, community management offers an excellent opportunity to influence how they view the brand in order to craft a positive image. When this is done systematically, the effect makes it a very effective marketing tool.
4. Industry Trend Tracking
Businesses are always advised to keep up on the latest trends that are affecting their industry. There are a myriad of ways to do this, but is community one of the best. Why? Because it gets directly to the source - the people who are most interested in the product or service. This provides a wealth of data that can be used for marketing purposes. Understanding how the community is changing over time can alert a business to new opportunities and give it insight into what people like about a product or service so it can be used in marketing material.
5. Customer Service Capabilities
Customer Service is all about providing support that lives up to a customer’s expectations. And with more and more customers turning to communities such as social media when they need help, community management is taking on a whole new dimension. But beyond the more traditional customer support roles, providing customer service to a community creates the kind of positive experience that people will share with their online networks.
6. A Tool for Bringing a Customer’s Voice to the Business
Once a business begins to do something and do it well, it’s very easy for it to stop listening to customers and become stagnant. Because a community manager job is to interact with customers every day, that person is an important link between the business and the people it is trying to sell to. In other words, proper community management will also include a flow of information from the community back to the business. This data can then be mined for useful demographic or messaging information that can be used in marketing materials.
Every Company Will Use Community Management Differently
Every company will use its community management to aid marketing efforts according to its own goals. But the most important thing to remember is that no matter what industry a business is in, it’s online following is an asset that should not go to waste. It’s a critical touchpoint that can provide unique types of information, and failing to use it in some way is simply letting a lot of good data (and the money it can make) go to waste.