Empower Your Community Manager to Build Brand Loyalty
Each new social media strategy and channel enables brands to connect with audiences in dynamic ways. You get immediate and personal interaction with the people using your products. It's important to remember that this interaction goes both ways - customers can reach you just as easily. As you grow, the amount of interactions you’ll have with customers grows, too. You could just focus on answering inquiries and resolving complaints, but you'd be missing out on all of that (free!) consumer and sales data.If you want to deliver great customer service and create an affordable, sustainable source of custom consumer data, you’ll need to hire a community manager.
First, establish parameters
- What is your success criteria?
- What is the department's budget?
- Will the new community manager execute a proven marketing and consumer relations plan, or do you need someone to propose a solution and deliver results?
- Does the community manager have signing authority for purchases? If not, how does he/she requisition supplies and pay contractors?
- Do you have a written editorial policy and product/service documentation?
- If you expect timely customer service responses 24/7, you'll need to approve a budget for round-the-clock support staff.
Make sure that you're on the same page about the right channels for your business: LinkedIn is probably not the best choice for a nail salon. On the other hand, even professionals and charities use Facebook; you just have to consider your goals and make sure that the message fits the medium. The National Institutes of Health Facebook page contains accessible medical news and information. Donors use the Susan G. Komen (breast cancer) Foundation's Facebook page to sign up for races and other events.
To ensure that your manager can be an effective liaison, you’ll need to empower the community manager with the authority to be the 'face' of your company. Your community manager should reach, teach, and engage your customers.
Announce and Listen
A press release might work for media outlets, but it will bore your customers. Your community manager will engage customers in a way that no press release ever could. The CM creates excitement about the 'what/where/when' while encouraging return visits, email opens and follows. As he or she builds a relationship with followers and email recipients, customers will welcome advance notice of product launches, sales, pre-releases and other promotions. You'll soon have an affordable and renewable source of consumer data. This information can help you make smarter decisions about everything from site design and marketing to purchasing and fulfillment.
Your community is a great source of feedback and support. It's sad but true: most customers only contact your support line if something’s broken. Using monitoring software, such as Mention, your community manager can scope out what people say about your product across social networks and blogs. With both the freedom to respond to problems and clear guidelines on company policy and messaging, community managers can head off problems before they ever come to boil.
As a bonus, acknowledging complaints reinforces your commitment to the customer. Say someone complains about how difficult the package is to open. The manager hops into the conversation and says: 'Oh, man! I just came out of a meeting about this very thing." Customers realize that you guys understand them and actively care about their satisfaction.
You’d be surprised, but it will be easier for your community manager to build a thriving community if your content doesn't exclusively promote your brand. It's a good thing if your manager talks about a his or her favorite team, last vacation, or pursuit of the perfect burger on company time. It's impossible to build a community unless you're a part of it, and nothing makes people like you more than being relatable. Again, editorial guidelines should clearly state which topics/images are consistent with company policy.
If people know and like the person representing the company, that warm feeling will transfer to the company! They’ll trust the information given to them and trust that their concerns are being heard.
Amplify Customer Content
Your customers are chatty, creative folks. When they like something, they want some way to interact with it; to participate. Take the rise of fanfiction around beloved movies and TV shows. Companies could cry copyright infringement. Lucasfilm chose a different tack when fans adapted the Star Wars trilogy: it honored the best fan film with an award.
You may not have a massive movie franchise behind you, but you can still amplify fan works - whether solicited or submitted on spec. Showcase the best stuff through your community manager. Have them prowl the Internet in search of the sketches, love poems, and memes that use your product.
With a community manager embedded in your customer base, you get great two-way communication, providing both excitement for your products and an outlet for them to air grievances. The more personal your manager can be, the more brand loyalty your company will build.
This is the first of a three-part series. Check back on August 19th for our post on media monitoring software!