Community management is one of the primary skills that you need to hone if you’re working in social media.
To help, there a range of platforms that have been created to schedule content, publish messages and alert you when a community member interacts with your community, be it on Facebook, a group of blogs, or on Linkedin.
These tools are incredibly useful and can save time, especially if you are in an agency, managing several communities at once.
However, it is incredibly easy to become reliant on the tools to do your job for you and it can lead to you becoming distanced from the group of people you are looking to get engaging with your brand.
Whether you’re managing a global community of ten million, or a local community of a hundred or so, understanding the dynamic of a group of people who are using a digital service to connect with a brand does not come naturally and is picked up over time.
It can be taught, but it is better to be in the community, understanding their needs and wants, to be able to judge how they will react to your content.
I believe that if you are to best serve any community, you must immerse yourself within it – by learning what the individuals within the collective want from you or your brand, you can hone your content and tone of voice to better connect with them.
The danger of using automated tools is that you lose the need to check in regularly to see what your community is saying, how are they are saying it and what makes them tick.
It is very easy to pull some graphs, talk about interesting ‘insights’ from data and find some nice and friendly verbatims to demonstrate just how much your community are discussing your brand.
What this does not reveal of course is the subtleties – what content has worked, what language has had most resonance and how big the core group of ‘superfans’ you have is.
I’m an advocate of checking in to your community every hour or so where possible of your own accord, not just when you receive a handy email notification. It helps you work what why there’s so much dead time in your community – is it just content you’re publishing that’s driving interactions, or are there genuine and structured conversations taking place without a catalyst?
As always in social media, technology and people combined is the best approach to take, not just leaving it to the machines to do the work.