The Social Contact Centre

to a social networking way of working through the eyes of a Contact Centre manager

Posts Tagged ‘Community Management

The Community Manager

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The role of Community Manager is becoming more and more prevalent. As businesses establish their social presence they begin to link it with their overarching brand and marketing strategies. So what should the Community Manager do?

For me the key word here is Community. I’ve banged on before about the importance of Social Networking above Social Media and the irrelevance of numbers in Social Media. A community illustrates this perfectly. The definition of Community is (according to Meriam-Webster):

1: unified body of individuals: as a : statecommonwealth b : the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly : the area itself c : an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location d : a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society e : a group linked by a common policyf : a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests g : a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society 
2: society at large
3a : joint ownership or participation b : common character : likeness <community of interests>c : social activity : fellowshipd : a social state or condition
The emphasis here is about common interest. To be meaningful that common interest has to be you/your brand/your beliefs. This is very difficult to achieve but some brands have been successful. They have created a sentiment about what they do which is very powerful. In the UK consider Marks and Spencer. When I was growing up I could have believed that this was a nationalised industry; so passionate were those people around me about its activities and trusting in its stability. Think about the Apple community worldwide – advocates, contributors and investors.
That is the goal to achieve. As a community manager the first task is to understand what your community is or could be. If a community already exists, outside your control, the objective is to become an accepted part of it. Google keywords and product names, search for hashtags in Twitter and Groups in Facebook. Monitor them through your social media listening tools to assess the scale and sentiment of what is already out there. Only then can you realistically set the objectives for the Community Manager role.  For example many brands may already have only negative communities – the crowd is always keen to share its negative opinions. Objectives must be based on something real and achievable and so an objective may only be to be an accepted and trusted voice in those communities. Even in a negative environment though, community management can be powerful. Take the example of  Dell Hell – a phrase triggered by this blog from journalist Jeff Jarvis http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2005/aug/29/mondaymediasection.blogging. Dell did a great job of listening and using Social Media to respond to a catastrophic situation. Thanks to Mei Lin Fung for this summary of the turnaround http://www.customerthink.com/article/you_can_learn_dell_hell_dell_did
Going forward with the strategy the Community Manager is responsible for:
  • Recruiting – seeking out the people who would enjoy being part of the community. This involves establishing the Social Media groups on the platforms most suited to the brand. ASOS’s use of Pinterest is a really good example of this – it uses a great medium well for the type of brand and the type of customer. The Community Manager in this role needs to be involved in the marketing strategy to use existing campaigns in a way that will attract – e.g. getting hashtags, @s and Facebook pages publicised along with telephone numbers and email addresses.
  • Entertaining – Creating unique content which will appeal to the community. Especially in the early days this is important – you want to keep the notoriously fickle attention (Facebook group active lifecycles are short). Research has indicated that successful community managers are posting 4-6 items of unique content each day. This can be boosted by retweets and other third party content. Remember, this isn’t just retweeting anything mentioning your brand in a positive way but also spreading the word of people who influence you or think like you. This recycling of content is a great way to attract the attention of people you would like to become members of the community too.
  • Engaging – Community Managers need to listen carefully to what the community is saying and engage with it in the voice of the brand. Larger brands will have more than one individual working with the community and although you want their individuality to be apparent, the message will be consistent. Asking questions and thanking are easy ways to do this. Some brands have experimented with engaging with people outside the community through Random Acts of Kindness. As ever Trendwatching have some good examples of this: http://trendwatching.com/trends/rak/
  • Interacting – This is the ultimate challenge: to step into the community and treat it as a communication challenge. Dealing with public criticism and customer service situations in an open social media forum is challenging but has huge rewards. It can be a real way of both differentiating the brand (exaggerating the overwhelming positive sentiment) and greatly reducing service costs (through crowd-sourcing).
The Community Manager needs many hats to be able to turn a Community into a Managed Community.

Return on Influence: Preparing the Ground

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Courtesy harmonyinspirations.com.au

You are a small business. You don’t have the advantage of an internationally recognised brand but you want to get your message out there to the people that really matter. What do you do? And can Social Media help?

There’s no doubt that momentum in the Social world can be enormously powerful but the effort needs to be very reactive and sensitive. I recently received a request from a local business to retweet a link to their latest video. Ordinarily I would show support and do so but when I checked the tweet stream of the business I found that they had less than 50 tweets in total and almost all of them were blatant advertising. Worse still, the rest of their morning was spent sending out duplicate emails to individuals asking them to retweet the same video. I didn’t retweet and they will shortly be blocked if the same approach carries on.

Social Media doesn’t behave in the same way as advertising. Advertising has a return on investment which is associated with hard measures – how often will the advertisement be seen and what percentage of viewers will respond to it? Increasingly the measure of Social Media success is Return On Influence. This is frustrating because the concept is challenging to grasp and there is a leap of faith that the return in sales is there. An Excellent Blog on this is http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/09/return_on_influence_the_new_ro.html by Amy Jo Martin in the Harvard Business Review. It’s controversial and there are some great comments below. One I particularly like is ” If we redefine influence as the ability to convert people from a spectator stance to favorable actions – you have the major component to the value of a social media resource.  Then you have to measure the cost of the resource against the value of the actions.”

Whenever I find a concept I am struggling with I always try to look backwards. Very little is truly new and human nature changes little. Networking has gone on for years and if a friend , acquaintance or business colleague asked for some advice or a favour I’d be inclined to help. We’ve built up trust over a common cause and they’ve earned the right to ask. I’d even go so far as to help them because I would trust their judgement that I would want to be involved. If I got a call out of the blue from a stranger asking me for the same I’d be inclined to be suspicious – Why are you asking me? What are you trying to sell me? Do I know you? I’d be concerned that my endorsement would reflect on me and so I would be cautious. And this is the reason that the request for help from the local business backfired…they were a stranger to me.

The right approach is to enter the Social Media room and introduce yourself gently and then listen to the conversation. Make friends with the kind of people you could find common cause with. There is no point chasing after the celebrities and industry gurus – they get this treatment all the time and can spot it easily. Relax and just participate. Remember the rule of thirds: a third original content, a third engagement and a third promotion. If anything, initially concentrate on engagement and content until you know your audience. The current term for the role is Community Management – participating in and growing an audience of people talking about the topics you want to talk about. This is achieved through:

1. Targeted following and friending (people that in your industry, your area, your customers, important prospects and your competitors)

2. Converting – when you meet someone new at a conference for example – add them to your community not just your address book

3. Attracting – try blogging as a good way to draw in followers and commenters. Tell people what you are passionate about, what you feel and inform them about important issues. Use appropriate hashtags, topics and categories to get noticed

4. Hunting – regularly search the hashtags, topics and categories to find new people

5. Engaging – listen regularly to the conversations and add your thoughts. Retweet, like and comment in a constructive way (not everything indiscriminately). Contribute regularly and at different times of day. Check the timeline thoroughly.

Now all of this takes time but there really are no short cuts. Of course anything which takes time or is uncomfortable eliminates the lazy and uncommitted and strengthens your position. I come from a town which plays street football (more like rugby, sumo and occasional boxing than anything else). At the start of the game there are hundreds of players but the seasoned  participants try and get the ball in the river quickly because they know that only the diehards will stay involved. Its worth doing because, when you do have something to say, influence and engagement are the most powerful forces of all.

Written by greencontact

March 22, 2012 at 9:57 am