A Toolbox to Improve Community Management

Being a community manager may sound like a cool, trendy job filled with fun and creativity. And it is. But it’s also far from easy. Whether you’re managing a community of thousands or one of 100, you are the eyes and the ears of the company on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. You’re responsible for interacting with audiences and serving as the voice of a brand. (And that interaction can often times involve a lot of gripes and groans being thrown your way.)

Luckily there are some tools and assets out there than can help make a community manager breathe a little easier on a day-to-day basis.

Let’s start with preparation. Half of the battle is making sure you’re ready to roll. Get aligned on the following:

Assets. As a community manager, not only are you monitoring social networks but often times populating them with the latest company news and content. As such, it’s important to be equipped with appropriate assets to make sure your content is sharp. This could mean having an editorial calendar of when blog posts are being published or an image library. Any resource that is going to help you optimize what you’re sharing is helpful to have on hand before you get started. No one likes a last minute scramble.

Content Calendar. Once you know what assets you’re working with, creating a content calendar can help keep you on top of things (and stay sane). Mapping out your content in advance will help you stay on track of internal announcements, holidays, blog posts and beyond. It will also allow more time for focusing on monitoring and engaging versus taking a chunk of time each day trying to get your bearings around what events are occurring and what you want to share.

Measurement Goals. Your boss is going to want to see how your work is affecting not just social growth, but also other metrics like web traffic and bottom-line conversions. Make sure you sit down with them in advance to discuss what metrics they want to measure. This will help guide how you move forward – whether it’s knowing to tag links to track website visits from your social networks or working toward a certain growth percentage. Regardless, knowing what you want to measure beforehand will help guide your strategy.

Response protocol. The biggest reason social media exists is engagement. If you’re a brand that’s merely sitting on the sidelines and watching your audience pass you by, you’re missing the point. As community manager, one of your main tasks is responding and interacting with audiences. While you will likely be able to handle the majority of questions and comments thrown your way, there are certain types of responses you may need help with:

  • Technical questions: At times (especially if you’re a technology company), you’ll receive technical questions that require an expert’s response. Know in advance who you can reach out to to secure the right answer.
  • Crisis situations: If a crisis situation occurs, do you know how to handle it? Have a plan in place to handle an unfortunate situation that might cause unrest among your audience.

Once you’re prepared and ready to kick into gear, two types of tools may be extremely useful:

Social sharing tools. A sharing tool is useful to help schedule content throughout the day or week. Tools like Buffer, Sprout and Hootsuite are just a few that can help do this. In most cases, they’re very simple. Just upload, set the date/time you want to publish and submit. Be warned though: using a tool like this does not mean you can take your hands off the wheel and let it do your job. Be prepared to alter on the fly. For example, if a national emergency occurs, you don’t want to be pushing out fluffy tweets. Be flexible and ready to adjust quickly.

Monitoring Tools. A good monitoring tool can be your community managing BFF. They allow you to create streams to easily keep an eye on people who are engaging with you or discussing certain topics. Tools like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and beyond let you monitor not just replies directed at you but also people using a hashtag, referring to a certain keyword or discussing an event. Having this all in one dashboard enables managers to easily spot opportunities to respond and interact in real-time. If you’re part of a social team, some tools will even allow you flag and assign certain tweets or comments to particular team members to address.

Those are just a healthy handful of items that can make your life as a community manager more, well, manageable.

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