Your Twitter Followers Aren’t a Community

Posted on February 16th 2012

Your Twitter Followers Aren’t a Community

I believe that the job titles Social Media Manager and Community Manager are becoming confused. Do people often take on both roles under one umbrella … yes they do …. absolutely. Indeed many companies are hiring Social Media Community Managers. But there is a distinct difference between the duties carried out by each.

Many Social Media Managers are aligned with the Marketing dept and use social media platforms to reach their customers, and they don’t generally manage a community. On the other hand, if you carry the title of Community Manager but only interact on Twitter and post brand updates on Facebook can you truly be a Community Manager? I don’t believe so. Just because your brand has a large number of Twitter followers that doesn’t necessarily make those followers a community. In order to become a community your followers need to interact with one another, and if they are only interacting with you (e.g. your brand) then they aren’t a community at all, they are an audience.

So if your aim is to create some kind of community between your Twitter follows what can you do?

  • If you have one, your primary goal should be to pull your followers to your brands’ onsite community. How do you do this? Reach out to your Twitter followers by highlighting discussions and conversations that are taking place within your community, and ask them to participate. Maybe tweet links to your more popular discussions and see if that piques the interest of your Twitter followers.
  • Above all engage your Twitter followers in conversation. Remember Twitter is all about building  relationships and getting to know other people. While you are doing this others will notice you are engaging with another person, and if they find the topic interesting they will often interject and contribute to the conversation, which then results in two “followers” of your brand “meeting” one another. You could even take this a step further by “introducing” one of your Twitter followers, to another (maybe because it has come to your attention they have something in common) and so on.
  • Start conversations on your company’s Facebook page that encourages interaction between those who use the page. Eg ask them if the follow you on Twitter and get them to share their Twitter handles. Often you may find that people who also “like” your FB page follow you on Twitter.
  • Organize a Twitter chat on a topic that will interest your followers (not necessarily about your product/brand). Those who participate will interact with one another for a specified time each week, and gradually over time they will interact with one another outside of the scheduled chat. The chat tag binds those people together.
  • Retweet interesting/funny/useful information that your followers share. By doing so you are bringing your Twitter followers to the attention of each other.

(If you have other tips for for binding your followers together I’d love to read them)

Above all,  if you are a brand Community Manager try and bind your Twitter followers together to form some type of community …. otherwise you should really think about a new job title.

sueontheweb

Sue John

Community driven, I've been a Community Manager for over 12 years. I also like the odd bar of chocolate!
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Comments

Agree with you, and your argument aligns with our own thoughts in this post 5 ways Communities best Networks http://igo2group.com/blog/5-ways-communities-best-networks/ where we also discuss the differences in roles between community manager and social media manager. Your points also align with our thoughts about the difference between a "network" and a "community". Not that there is a good and a bad, just that they have difference purposes - or in other words they should spring from different business goals.

Walter @adamson

@igo2 Group

"In order to become a community your followers need to interact with one another, and if they are only interacting with you (e.g. your brand) then they aren’t a community at all, they are an audience."

That really says it all, not just in terms of inaccurate job titles but how companies and brand use social media tactics in order to engage with their customers. Some are probably more comfortable 'broadcasting' and not conversing, esp. the group dynamic. These are all good tips, but what of the brand's own blog? That's potentially the most valuable social real estate, with opportunities to get people talking WITH not only you but each other and develop a strong community. FWIW.

Indeed you're right, a blog is an excellent way of trying to build a sense of community with your customers.