While content marketing has become an essential consideration for all businesses, it's interesting to note that most content marketing activities focus specifically on publishing schedules and getting things posted.
But there's more to content than just the publication of branded material in itself. If your goals are to increase engagement, and create prospects, then community management should also be a key driver of your content activities.
To help with this, we've established a listing of four essential community management practices which will better enable you to take action, and drive growth online. In our experience, focusing on these key activities will see you spend less time creating your content, and more time making your digital appearances work more effectively for you, by focusing on what matters most - keeping up with your reputation, responsiveness and reactions... and keeping those interested in you more interested than ever.
Here's how they work:
Daily Practice - Work on your active social connections
- Tracking: View likes, comments and reactions on your social posts
- Actions: Build an active and engaged community by connecting with fans
What social channels are most important to you and your target audience/s?
It's time to commit to not only actively posting or sharing content, but also responding to everyone who likes, comments, and reacts to your brand.
This is not wasted effort. Making actual one-to-one connections with your followers, visitors, and even casual passersby is important, because they could be your future ambassadors or promoters. So set time aside every day to go through your responses - both positive and negative.
And one more thing: when it comes to bots or spam-like comments, feel free to remove them. We all have.
To Do: Don't forget to visit your social profiles daily and see what's happening there.
Weekly Practice - Respond to anyone mentioning your name
- Tracking: See what people are saying about your business with brand mentions
- Actions: Maintain a strong reputation by quickly responding to complaints and compliments
There are several ways to track and respond to what's being said about your business or organization online.
At the simplest level, Googling your name with date ranges is a good start, but it's more important to know who, specifically, is talking about you, and that often comes directly from social networks and digital destinations where consumers comment or react.
If you have a Twitter presence, then you might already be tracking mentions, and you might respond via tweet or through direct message (DM). Other social networks may require a more public interaction, especially listings or review sites.
Your personal responses go a long way, not only to the individuals who mention your business or brand, but also others who see your responses. What happens if you're not present? Others will create lasting impressions of your business instead of you.
To Do: Check weekly on all the sites where you know visitors will look you up.
Monthly Practice - Refine your one-to-many messages
- Tracking: Monitor keywords that are relevant to your customers
- Actions: Adjust marketing tactics based on the performance of selected keywords
What do you offer or sell? Start by considering what's top-of-mind when people are researching, shopping for, rating, or commenting about your business (or your competitors). We recommend selecting roughly ten words/phrases that you'll search monthly through the same places as your brand mentions: your social networks, listings, or review sites.
What changes are you noticing in consumer sentiment or attitude about your industry and what you're selling? If you can understand, address, and adjust your marketing tactics to reflect these changes, then you can create a competitive advantage. It may be as simple as saying that you'll solve a problem, or meet a need differently.
To Do: Check monthly to see what your prospects are saying within the digital space.
Periodic Practice - Curate your feedback and reviews
- Tracking: Collect regular feedback by sharing tailored forms on the web and/or via social media
- Actions: Increase your review volume and average ratings on Yelp and Google
Through community management practices, you should also focus on enhancing your online reputation.
You have customers who are willing to offer feedback, and it's worth setting up pathways for reviews, ratings, comments and even testimonials. Try setting up a 'Contact us' or survey form on your website, and ideally ask for ratings on a five-point scale. Ask customers for reviews whenever you communicate with them, and ensure you thank those who've gone to the effort of doing so.
While often forgotten, it's up to you to encourage reviews wherever you reach customers, and then to find a way to amplify their impact on social channels.
To Do: Remember to ask for reviews, and ask fans to share them on Yelp, Google or where prospects find you.
These four community management practices are simple acts, but they can have a big impact on building your brand awareness, following and digital marketing performance. If you're trying to create a more engaged community, where fans, prospects, and customers respond positively, and want to spread the word about you and your products, these practices are essential steps that should not be forgotten in the rush of content marketing and sharing efforts.