Community Management: The Right Way to Engage Consumers

As a professional who manages communities across an array of brands and industries, I’ve seen my fair share of questionable behavior. I’ve been tasked to cover a wide range of responses—from Twitter trolls taking over your notifications to someone just dropping by to say they love a product—I’ve experienced it all. The biggest lesson learned is that you have got to be prepared for everything and anything consumers throw your way.

That’s why I’ve broken down the three must-have’s when it comes to running a brand’s social ecosystem:

1. Know your brand, but also be smart.
This may seem like a given, but when you touch a range of different accounts, it’s crucial to stay on top of what’s going on with a brand both internally and externally. Being the voice of a brand means that you always need to be two steps ahead of your audience so that you are never caught off guard.

From my own experience working in the science field, there are always new studies coming out about biotechnology, and a lot of times people are unintentionally posting misinformation on a given topic. These are the moments where I tap into the social conversation to better inform an audience, but without doing the extra research, you could be putting the integrity of a brand at risk.

2. Always respond.
Lately, I’ve noticed a trend where brands are blatantly ignoring negative comments on their social channels. The result? Absolute disaster. There was one instance where a specific brand let go of a woman after working the company for a number of years, and her husband took to their Facebook page to complain. The brand failed to respond, which led to people piggybacking on the comment, spiraling out of control into a viral trolling fiasco. Within a week, the crisis was almost unmanageable for the brand.

What’s important to note is that all of this could have been avoided if said brand responded to the complaint in a timely manner. Ignoring a problem won’t make it go away in this social-driven world, and in this example it blew up. Regardless of sentiment, a high-profile brand should almost always issue a response.

3. Don’t be a robot.
In this day and age, artificial intelligence is increasingly being integrated into customer service roles for global brands. This is not what the consumer wants. They want human-to-human interaction and a more personable experience, which is why I believe brands should ditch canned responses and begin using keywords.

Let’s say, for example, a consumer is submitting a complaint about a product. Rather than copy and pasting a response that says, “Hi [INSERT NAME HERE], we’re sorry to hear about this. Please call this number,” brands should use a template, and integrate keywords to really personalize the message. By looking at the templated response through a broader lens, it is clear that you are doing the following: addressing the person by their first name, apologizing and then offering a solution. By following that model and including key words that cater to a consumer’s situation, you are not only humanizing the experience, but becoming a trustworthy partner for the consumer to come back to in case the problem persists.

Managing an online community is more than just being the voice behind a brand’s social channel, it’s about creating an experience that leaves a lasting impression on the consumer. While these steps may seem simple at first glance, they are the foundational elements needed to build strong relationships and brand reputations in the social space.