With the second annual community manager appreciation day just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to sit back and take a look at he pros and cons that come with online community management.
So without further ado, here’s my list:
- I get to speak to passionate, like-minded people every day. The customers I interact with on a regular basis, as well as my community mananger peers, feel strongly about the brands that they interact with.
- As a community manager I have to be as passionate as my customers to really understand what they say and why. I’m never alone. Managing online communities is not just a nine to five job and whenever I’m up early or battling a case of insomnia I know my community is there.
- My ability as a community manager is reflected in the success of my communities. A community that performs well is hailed as a good example of customer service or engagement and improves sentiment towards the brand.
- I get to be the first point of contact for the brand I’m representing, so my professional and friendly portrayal is the key starting point for future brand engagement.
- It’s often difficult to find the middle ground between chat and promotion. Being able to post a good range of content can take time and there’s a risk that I’ll be seen as too spammy.
- A community never sleeps. I have to be available 24 hours a day depending on the needs of my community and I’ve accepted that not everyone has the same sleep patterns as me.
- Remaining happy at all times can sometimes be tough. There are always cases where something may rile you on your community, but you can never ever rise to it. Keeping a calm, professional face at all times can be difficult times, but maintaining composure is the sign of a good community manager.
- Online communities come in many forms. Although the role has only come to public attention in the last few years, it has been around since message boards and lists first appeared on the Internet. Having said that, I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing queries through to the end, servicing the needs of both clients and community members and ultimately providing a comfortable place where brands and consumers can have an open friendly conversation.
WaveMetrix have published their review of Q4 2010 social media trends and it highlights some interesting moves for fashion brands using social media, especially Facebook.
Burberry and Lacoste joined Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton and Gucci with a greater focus on brand-related content, such as music and sport which positively affected engagement, brand sentiment and purchase consideration.
Burberry, by running their Burberry Acoustic music campaign alongside content on the Burberry clothes collections, have succeeded in engaging consumers with the wider culture of the brand and this significantly increased consumer discussion. You can see from the pie chart below which areas the audience were engaged around.
Lacoste use a mix of fashion and non fashion content, such as their ATP Tour sponsorship to engage consumers and positively affect sentiment, as this pie chart shows.
That trend is not universal however. The report also highlighted that for other brands engaging consumers closely on product range can drive purchase consideration, with Xbox and BMW notable winners here. Zara on the other hand, with its focus on product discussion, failed to drive notable purchase consideration – which shows the importance of the right strategy.
As an aside, a new report I saw recently, which will feature in another post, showed that a high percentage of consumers ‘Like’ competing brands on Facebook showing that on social networks genuine brand loyalty is hard to come by.
My first session on the IAB Social Media Council had us debating the upcoming regulation changes which will see the ASA’s remit extended to cover marketing on websites from 1st March 2011.
So what? Well the Advertising Standards Authority is “the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media” but until now this did not include websites (and for websites also read social networks, blogs etc). This new regulation means that marketing communications on companies’ own websites and in other third party space under their control, such as Facebook and Twitter, will have to adhere to the “non-broadcast advertising rules” as set out in the CAP Code.
The aim is to drive companies to ensure marketing messages on their websites are legal, decent, honest and truthful. This should go without saying but think of how celebs are used in social media marketing – when they are speaking about a product are they doing so because they are paid? What about the blog you read extolling a product – was that review paid for? Currently this is unclear but the ASA aims to remove that uncertainty.
How? Well, the ASA does not set rules, just guidance so it is currently unclear exactly what will fall foul of the regulations.
On the Council we are looking to lead the way with self regulation and I am interested in your views of how this should be done?
- Should sponsored tweets feature a hashtag such as #ad or #spon
- What if a paid brand advocate happens to tweet about the brand, is this ‘paid’
- What constitutes being paid? Is a blogger who is given product to review ‘paid’?
At FreshNetworks we have always advocated responsible social media practice and support the ASA’s work to clear up this grey area.
I will be updating you as new information comes out and would love your thoughts on this as they will help drive the self regulation response.
Social media management tools can help businesses listen to, manage, measure and respond to conversations about their brand on the social web.
With more and more social media management tools springing up on the market, it’s hard to keep track of what’s out there. So we’ve come up with a list…
Please think of this list as a kind of “wiki” which we will add to over time. We hope it will eventually become a useful social media management tool resource.
- Argyle social: Social media marketing platform that helps marketers measure and justify the social channel. The system is built on a tracking and URL-shortener giving the user the ability to track social conversions on Twitter and Facebook.
- Awareness : On-demand social marketing software to help brands publish, manage and measure across social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, foursquare, and WordPress.
- Buddy Media: platform of tools allows for Facebook page management and engagement.
- Context Optional: cross-platform social marketing solution to efficiently build, manage, monitor and measure brand presence across the social web.
- Conversocial: helps increase engagement, manage interactions and respond to customers on Twitter and Facebook. It also helps plan updates and enables you to assess what type of content resonates the most with your fans and followers.
- CoTweet: enables companies to engage in marketing and response-driven customer service activities on Twitter.
- Expion: a unified database that aggregates and tracks all employee and customer social interactions to help profile customers, identify advocates and critics, track behaviors and create best employee practices.
- Hootsuite: one of the few tools that currently allows users to integrate and update across 10 social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare etc .
- Involver: provides marketers with a “social markup language”, SML™, an engagement platform and customizable social applications from which to create and monitor content.
- MediaFunnel: offers offers brand monitoring, scheduling, multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts.
- Objective Marketer: a social media marketing and campaign management solution to engage and reach users on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and other social channels, it aims to make it easy f to manage multi-channel communication while providing comprehensive analytics and reporting.
- Postling: allows for blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr accounts to be managed from a single system.
- Shoutlet: offers a multi-user application that helps build, engage, and measure social media marketing communication via one platform.
- SocialTalk: provides integration with Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and MoveableType.
- SocialVolt: a complete social media management platform that integrates the tools needed to engage with clients on the social web.
- SpredFast : according to Jeremiah Owyang’s blog, (a great resource for finding out more about some of these management tools) SpredFast aim to position their product as collaborative campaign management and offer features such as scheduling content, and features that integrate with events and social stream like features similar to Friendfeed.
- Sprinklr: Sprinklr’s SIREn (Social Intent Revelation Engine) platform is a comprehensive enterprise grade SaaS social media management system.
- Strongmail:a traditional email marketing platform that tracks the multi-stage sharing activity of a campaign all the way to conversion and provides feedback on Facebook fan page wall posts.
- Syncapse: product portfolio includes SocialTALK, a hosted SaaS solution that helps enterprises create, publish and measure their social media content strategy and posting schedule.
- This moment Distributed Engagement Channel: the system allows you to publish content, moderate user-generated comments and track and optimize channel performance. They also have features such as ID integration, media handling, and reporting.
- Vitrue: integration with Facebook and Twitter, they offer scheduling features, and the ability to link multiple Facebook pages together.
Additions to the list since the post was made:
- Datasift: enables filtering and augmentation of social data to help you filter out the noise and find the information that is valuable to your business and customers.
- MutualMind: Primarily to help PR and marketing teams analyse and monitor the social web, the tool also has an engagement platform with an integrated response system.
- Assistly: social media management tool aimed to help with real-time customer service via email, self service FAQs, chat, and social networks.
- Sendible: sendible is a platform for engaging with customers, measuring results and monitoring your brand across multiple social media channels at once.
- Get Satisfaction: gives a better social support experience, increases SEO and improves customer loyalty.
- Offerpop: end-to-end, white label campaign tools for Facebook and Twitter.
- Hyper Alerts: sends an email when comments are posted on Facebook fan pages.
- Posthelpers: an enterprise social selling platform for localizing news, deals and offers across an organization’s multiple Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and LinkedIn profiles.
- eCairn: Aggregate conversations, trending topics and bookmark insights to help with your engagement strategy.
- Stuzo: Dachis group owned social media management tool that enables cross-platform (Facebook,Twitter, YouTube, etc.) social experiences and allows clients to manage multiple social programs from one unified interface.
- Valuevine: social media and location-based marketing and analytics software for multi-location brands.
- Sprout social: cross-platform social media management tools that enable you to find new customers and to grow your business.
- Skyttle: Facebook analytics for community insights and measurement
- Zeitgeist & Coffee: a real-time marketing collaboration and management platform which includes idea exchange, content development environment, assignment and approval dashboard, posting hub, and monitoring and an analysis tool.
When brands start social media monitoring, the ability to get real-time alerts whenever your brand is mentioned can be enlightening. Your inbox is suddenly filled, almost in real time, with every mention of your brand. The good, the band, and the ugly. The temptation can be to respond to all of these. To counteract every negative comment. To respond to and then spread every positive experience. To answer and resolve every question. This is only natural for people who care about the brands they work for. But the best approach is often not to respond. In fact, in many if not most instances, a brand should not respond to people talking about it online.
The real benefit of social media monitoring for brands is that it allows you to be aware of and listen in to conversations that you might not have known were going on otherwise. People who express their frustration with your product but would never have told you, advocates telling others just how great you are, or people sharing useful feedback and product development ideas. It’s great to see all of these things and the temptation is to respond. But more often than not, the best thing a brand can do is to not respond.
Doing nothing is often the most difficult thing to do. But it is often the right thing to do. If you overheard two people ranting about your brand on a train you would be unlikely to interrupt. If you heard people talking in a cafe about great customer service they’d received from your team you would probably listen, feel proud and let them tell each other how great you are. There is no need to interrupt in these cases. A rant is probably just a rant and there is little you can do to change this. And people being positive are probably doing lots of good for you on their own without you needing to add anything. Whilst things are different in social media – notably that the comments can be seen by a much larger audience and that they are archived and searchable. But often the same rules apply.
If you have nothing to add, don’t say anything, and if you will only inflame a situation then stay out of it
Overall, brands should be careful about engaging online and have a clear process of when to respond, and when not to respond. There are two very clear cases where a brand should always step in:
- Where an actual customer service complaint is being expressed – you should step in to respond to this, pointing people in the direction of where they can get support or dealing with this complaint through your existing channels.
- Where incorrect things are being said about your brand, products or organisation – you should correct the incorrect messaging that is being spread and answer any questions
In all other instances you should be more circumspect about getting involved. You should have a simple process for reacting and responding online and use this to help guide you. But overall you should do nothing more than you do something. Monitor, report on and learn from everything people say about you online. But don’t feel the need to get involved in every conversation.