The digital age has opened the door to an online world rich in opportunities for social interaction, brand awareness development and community building.
Companies are very aware of the importance of creating and maintaining a digital brand image, and nurturing the digital community that goes with it.
Social media managers and community managers are companies’ eyes, ears and mouthpieces in this digital sphere. They create and share their specific targeted brand image across their social media platforms, while cultivating an online community that can independently encourage brand engagement, ‘buzz’, point-of-sale footfall, and generally guide interested individuals throughout their consumer journey.
The two concepts are complementary. Social media managers and community managers pretty much function in the same way today. They develop and share brand specific content on social media. This gives the brand a voice, a unique identity and allows the social media manager to promote the latest news and updates regarding the brand’s activities. They are also there to guide, encourage and grow the online community created around the brand within its online spaces. They are also there to measure and analyse brand impact within these online audiences.
But in reality, community building goes much further, and will undoubtedly supplant simple social media management in importance and impact going forward as consumer attitudes to social media evolve. Think of the success of online communities such as MOM365, which covers topics from getting pregnant to birth, baby development to raising children, or the Agicap Cash is King community, created as a platform to enable SME managers and financial officers to discuss directly with each other and with Agicap's experts on financial issues.
Community management: a definition
The concept of community management revolves around the idea that your brand has a real person behind the keyboard interacting with and developing your online community, bringing it to life. It is the human aspect that is able to reach your target audience via whichever digital channels you have decided to develop.
Having a robust community management plan can save your brand time and money, as well as provide opportunities to deal with customer complaints, increase brand loyalty and relevance, boost recruitment, network with other brands, reach influencers, and access valuable, raw data regarding online brand impact. In short, community management is step beyond social media management in that it cultivates an invaluable online culture around your brand.
Social media management: a definition
Social media management is really about the bigger picture. Social media managers are responsible for a brand’s online image, content and promotions. The main job of a social media manager is to promote the brand’s products, services and new features using a well-developed brand identity in order to push sales, attract new customers and encourage growth
As opposed to community management, which is really focused on client interaction, social media management is about developing a global content strategy, determining objectives and the editorial line.
Social media management as part of your community management plan
Indeed, social media management is a key part of creating your community management plan. Before starting out, defining a strategy that will help your brand achieve its objectives is paramount. This means choosing which social media channels you hope to use and conquer, what type of audience you want to reach and what type of content will help you achieve these goals.
It is advisable to directly engage with your audience to see what type of content would be relevant to them, and relay this information back to your social media manager who can integrate it into the social media strategy. Intertwining the two roles like this can have positive effects on engagement.
It is true to say, however, that the very concept of engagement on social media is somewhat ambiguous. Can you be sure that it is YOUR community that is even seeing, let alone interacting, with your content? Algorithms have really muddied the waters, which is why effective community building goes beyond the conceptual logic of social media management.
Why community management is essential today
Of course, building an effective online community cannot be achieved without strong social media management, but their importance within the hierarchy of social media operations has been evolving as attitudes to social media have changed.
Community building has never been so important for companies. It allows you to listen to how people see your brand, engage customers with your brand and measure and analyse how your brand is perceived within your audiences. This data is indispensable to running an effective online community. In turn, this will enable you to increase brand loyalty, conversions and sales, and enable you to sustain a more human online presence that is easily relatable to for customers.
Furthermore, successful community builders are able to establish a global presence and real notoriety. Think of the success of Duolingo, that has created a real worldwide community of languages learners, which has been able to empower their community to develop, test, and spread the word about their language courses.
Social networks are much more limited than we would think when it comes to building a community. Saturation is one reason. In order to be heard, brands have to really shout louder than the others, and once you have caught the attention of consumers, it can be hard to keep it.
This is why building a community that functions organically is paramount to succeeding in the digital sphere. Platforms like MeltingSpot that provide brands with a space to nurture and animate these communities are therefore the key to success going into the future.