Monday, 12 September 2011

Why you need a community manager

I'm looking for work in social media as a community manager with experience in analysis. Not all companies know why they need one of those, so I'll tell you. Remember the good old days of SEO? With cleverly chosen keywords and links, you could get your site on the top of the search results in Google, and on a PPC basis you could appear on the paid links as well. That doesn't work as well any more. Nor does plain old advertising.

Your customers no longer depend on your own brand communication to make up their mind whether they need or want your product. In fact, a lot of them are wary of believing much of what you say about your own product at all, aside from purely factual or technical information. Instead, people rely on recommendations and opinions provided by their friends, online or otherwise. They're even increasingly unlikely to click on ads that pop up next to their Google or Facebook because they've learned not to click indiscriminately and avoid spam. More and more traffic is being driven to your site purely because of social; because your customers were so happy with the product and service they received that they freely became your ambassador and recommended you directly to their own circle of friends and indirectly to the community at large by pressing 'follow' or '+1', or leaving a positive review, writing a blog post, spreading a link, going viral.

If you want your brand to come up on top in Google, you need to come up in conversation. Search engines are now using social to rank pages, and any good community manager will tell you that a page full of one-way marketing-speak will not rank highly as a conversation.

Thanks to the internet, your customers benefit from a free exchange of information on a scale never seen before, and they are critical as well. They won't believe that you are all about customer service if complaints on Twitter remain unanswered; they won't fall for your promise of quality if they find only bad reviews. And they won't be easily fooled by a censored space where only happy customers and good reviews are allowed.

So how does having a community manager benefit your brand? Won't people talk about your brand anyway? And if you can't censor the bad, then why do you need someone monitoring the conversation at all? Because your community manager can find the conversation where it is, take part in it there or move it to your owned media where you have more editorial control, an easier time measuring KPI's, and access to customer care. Once they're involved in conversation, they can often defuse the bad by responding in the right way, and just by doing that, show other community members how much your brand cares what they think. Your community manager has their finger on the pulse so they can analyse and summarize the moods and needs of the community, providing you with coherent and actionable feedback.

A good community manager is a person with varied talents. They have to be communicative and engaging so your customers enjoy talking to them, but at the same time aware of brand tone, legal issues and reputation management. They have to be able to react quickly and appropriately to situations as they arise without losing sight of long-term brand strategy. They have to be creative and innovative, but also analytical and organised to provide you with measured results. So you don't need someone with marketing experience because that doesn't sell any more; you don't need an old-school SEO or PPC wizard, because search won't find you any more. You need a social media community manager.

No comments:

Post a Comment