Community management is something that schools and businesses are beginning to really embrace. If your social media efforts begin to really take off you will quickly realise that your audience have become an online community. Even if you have not embraced social media you will have many existing communities in the offline world.
There are a number of ways of managing and engaging with your social media communities. Here are a few of our favourite tips.
Answer those questions!
This is a simple way to effectively engage with your community but many ignore questions from their audience. There may be an issue with time restraints but always try to answer as many questions as possible. If your Facebook Timeline allows for posts or comments then it is essential to answer any questions. A Timeline becomes awkward to look at when there is a lot of unanswered posts/comments. It shows a lack of enthusiasm.
Embrace stories and experiences.
If your community is sharing stories and experiences about you then you must embrace this. When a person is sharing positive experiences with their peers online then they are investing their time and social capital to advocate for your school. It is essential that you communicate back in these situations. Do not be afraid to communicate back about negative experiences either. In many cases you can turn negativity into a positive outcome for not only the individual but for your wider community.
Don’t focus on fans and followers.
A goal for many marketers is to reach a certain number of followers on Twitter or fans on Facebook. The number of fans and followers is often seen as a reflection on social success. A higher number does suggest increased visibility but different metrics are more valuable when managing your community. A great metric to use on social media is amplification.
Twitter - # of retweets per post
Facebook - # of shares per post
Google+ - # of shares per post
YouTube - # of social sharing clicks
Blog - # of social sharing clicks
Social sharing clicks are the numbers on your social share buttons - see the example on the right. You can get your own buttons from AddThis.
This metric is much more valuable to you and your community.
Content curation is a very useful way to engage your community and it is also a great starting point for marketers who are dipping their toes into social media. However, reliance on content curation (sharing other people’s content) can be risky as you are not sharing your own personality and thoughts. It is important to provide your community with original content. A really simple and basic way to create content is to conduct interviews or review books, films etc. You can even have your students participate in this. Even basic content can be very valuable to your community if it is original.
Frequent is a very subjective word. How frequent is frequent exactly? For this you need to use your marketing intuition. You will have to trial and review different frequencies and discover the best combinations.
It is imperative that you do not let any of your social channels dry up. You do not want any of your profiles to look like a ghost town. If you do not think you have enough time or content to frequently engage right now then take some time out to build a social strategy and create a quarterly plan that you can stick to.
How have you found managing your communities? What tips do you have? Share your thoughts in the comments.