How to build an effective community management strategy

Shreya Bose

August 2, 202310 min read

Share this Article

Human beings are wired to seek connection with each other.  

Community is more than just a marketing term, it’s a human need. In the context of digital marketing, community management isn’t just about selling products or services. It's about building a cohort of people to whom you consistently deliver value, establish positive brand awareness and convey that your brand cares. its customers and employees. 

Our social environment profoundly shapes us and that we suffer greatly when our social bonds are threatened or severed. 

Matthew Lieberman 

In this article, we’ll discuss how to design a community management strategy from the ground up. We’ll also share a community management strategy example and highlight the benefits of implementing these core practices as part of your marketing framework.  

Table of Contents

What is community management?  

A community management is the strategic approach of cultivating and fostering relationships with a community of customers or enthusiasts. 

And a community management strategy enables you to connect with real people, provide them with the information they need, grow from user feedback and share experiences.   

Why invest in community management? 

At its heart, community management represents the human side of a brand to the world. It helps your brand build sustained relationships with audience members and convert customers into brand advocates. 

But how does that happen? 

Community management enables your business to: 

  • Provide value to customers beyond what they pay for – your product or service 

  • Interact with customers to understand their pain points and expectations  

  • Serve gated content to members on priority basis to build loyalty 

  • Improve brand awareness among your target audience 

  • Respond to customer complaints and feedback 

  • Establish a reputation for reliability, a customer-first attitude and pristine product/service quality 

Still skeptical? Read Why obsess over building a community of people who love you   

A quick note: Community management vs. social media management 

Community management and social media management are distinct.  

Strictly speaking, social media management is part of community management. A community management strategy creates and leverages brand loyalists via social media and other networks to create positive brand awareness and provide support.  

Essentially, community management operates on and off social media platforms and prioritizes building customer relationships over followers and likes 

While social media management aims to increase reach, likes, followers, engagement and site traffic via social media community engagement. 

Is that all? 

Certainly not. There are many more differences between community management and social media management. Let’s take a look at them below. 

Criteria 

Social media management 

Community management 

Objective 

Increase brand visibility, engagement and reach on social media platforms 

Build a sense of belonging, trust, and loyalty among community members 

Activities 

Create and schedule social media posts, respond to comments and messages 

Facilitate discussions, organize community events, provide support and value to community members 

Focus 

Manage and optimize social platforms to promote brand awareness and audience engagement 

Foster meaningful interactions, build personal relationships, nurture a community with shared interests 

Approach 

Consistent branding, content curation and utilizing social analytics to drive metrics 

Active listening, understanding community needs and encouraging user generated content 

Primary Outcome 

Increase reach, followers and conversions through targeted content and advertising 

Build brand advocates by cultivating trust, loyalty and a strong sense of community belongingness 

Read more about social media management here. 

Types of community management spaces 

Every community serves a specific purpose for a brand. You could build one to create a sense of camarderie within your target cohort or to encourage collective problem-solving. Here are common types of community spaces you can curate for your customers. 

🤝Support: These communities empower customers with a collaborative discussion board to ask and answer questions amongst each other. You can engage to dispel doubts and prevalent concerns with knowledge base or self-help articles. Subesquently, these community spaces lower your ticket volumes and customer service overheads. 

💡Product innovation:  This space is highly conducive for your members to naturally engage in conversations that help you innovate, build and deploy product features and achieve navigational improvements. For example, you can hold contests to crowdsource ideas for rewards, create focus groups, sought feedback and evaluate your minimum viable products (MVPs).  

💰Acquisition: These communities are the best way to identify and nurture your biggest advocates. You can engage with your network of top patrons, drive affiliate programs and boost brand awareness through mutual collaborations.  

📍Contribution:  Communities that thrive on user-generated content. Manage them by curating, engaging, organizing events, tracking metrics, supporting members and embracing a customer feedback loop. 

💚Engagement (Internal and external): External engagement communities gather individuals around brand-related interests. Whereas, internal engagement communities connect employees, suppliers or partners.  

📈Success: Customer success communities boost product adoption and value. They connect customers, fostering knowledge sharing, skill development, and mentorship. These communities empower customers to maximize their benefits and become valuable resources for each other. 

Basics of community management 

Before brainstorming on the specifics of your community management strategy, have a clear grasp of the basics of community management:  

  1. Monitor 

  2. Engage 

  3. Moderate 

  4. Measure 

Monitor 

Have you heard of social listening? That’s basically what this is. It is the act of “listening” to what people are saying online.  So, look out for mentions of your brand or product name online in comments, reviews, videos or direct tags. All of this helps you keep a close eye on how your audiences perceive your company.  

Engage 

Here’s where you actually do something. You respond to people’s comments, start conversations, actively help resolve their complaints and/or offer them viable next steps to do so on their own. Make sure to be polite, professional (but not stodgy, you can definitely be witty) and accurate. Above all, maintain brand hygiene obsessively in all your customer interactions. 

Moderate

Community moderation helps you keep your online brand reputation in check — especially when a customer leaves a negative review or comment about your products or services. You should reply immediately or as soon as you become aware of any such review. Offer to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Ask the customer to send you relevant details in an email or DM and once you get that one-on-one conversation started, use it to clarify your position, assuage the customer’s (rightful) frustration and get them on your side (a big discount for future purchases and/or some free goodies, perhaps?) 

  • Pro tip 1: Don’t make customers email you if you’re responding to them on social media. Instead, ask them to DM you on the platform. 

  • Pro tip 2: Add your (the human community manager replying through the brand’s official handle) name at the end of each reply. Doing so makes the customer feel like they’re actually talking to a human being and not just a corporate entity.  

Also read: Common traits of top community managers  

Measure 

Set up your evaluation mechanisms once your community management strategy is in place. After a certain period of managing the community, you’ll have to start tracking relevant metrics to evaluate how your brand is perceived on popular online and offline channels. You can also solicit feedback actively through customer surveys, polls or even direct messages.  

What are the words people use when talking about your brand? Do they engage regularly and positively with you? How often do you have to issue an apology for a mistake you’ve made?  

Learn more: How to build an online customer community 

How to build a community management strategy 

Managing your community is no easy-game, but the right strategy will help you navigate the toughest of waters.  

Step 1: Be clear on your goals 

What does the success of your community management strategy look like? This is the first question you’ll have to answer in your brainstorming phase. Once you’re clear on your desired outcome, it’ll be much easier to devise and deploy strategies best fit your goals.  Success with community management could mean different things to different companies/industries. A few common goals are: 

  • Answer customer questions without the complexity of official emails and phone calls 

  • Providing support and tutorials for complicated products 

  • Gather customer feedback in an effort to keep improving your offerings 

  • Creating a group of customer-turned-brand advocates and reward them with incentives 

  • Increasing brand awareness among relevant personas and segments 

  • Enhance the public perception of the brand 

  • Generate positive word-of-mouth, which is a wildly effective form of marketing 

  • Retain customers through curated conversations and tailored services 

To achieve your goals, ensure everyone onyour entire team and related stakeholders are onboard, aligned and ready to provide the neededbudget and resources.   

Step 2: Know your audience 

Who are you talking to? What is your target audience’s primary demographic? What do they care about the most?  

Once you understand your user base, you'll be able to address these questions. Your audience expresses its implicit and explicit desires and interests. Knowing them is crucial for creating branded content that resonates with your audience and attracts them to your online and offline presence. 

Knowing your audience allows you to identify their preferred online hangouts.  

For instance: If your target customers are middle-aged men and women, they are likely to be active on Facebook. On the other hand, if you are targeting gamers, establishing a presence on platforms like Discord and Twitch is essential. 

Step 3: Define success metrics 

Not every metric works for every brand. It’s important to zero in on the metrics that align with your organization’s larger goals. For example, if you’re running a local coffee shop, you probably wouldn’t see the “number of Snapchat followers” as a success-defining metric. You’d probably look at repeat customers, positive online reviews or loyalty program sign-ups to gauge your community management strategy’s success. 

Some frequently utilized metrics for community management are: 

  • Number of audience members/followers (and their increase relative to your strategy) 

  • Number of regular participants in live chats, webinars, etc.  

  • Number of people signing up for product demos 

  • Likes, shares, mentions and hashtags on your posts 

  • Increased brand awareness, customer satisfaction and retention 

  • Increased website traffic emerging from your community engagement channels 

  • Boost in sign-ups, sales and conversions 

 Step 4: Produce content that actually matters 

Avoid getting caught up in trends. Consider what aligns with your brand before brainstorming and creating content.  

Online users are bombarded with salesy content all day long and they crave authenticity. Your content should revolve around a single mantra: authenticity above all. 

For instance: If you have a health-tech start up, your community would benefit from informative workout tutorials, healthy recipes and motivational stories can engage and provide value to your members, strengthening the community and promoting their fitness journey. 

Focus on what genuinely resonates with your audience, rather than following the preferences of the general internet population. 

Note: Don’t forget to post regularly. Consistency is one of the keys to social media and community-building success.  

Step 5: Engage, engage, engage 

As far as possible, reply to every comment, thank people every time they share your content so they know you’re always available for them.  

Of course, it is not humanly possible to be constantly around, so create a content calendar with regular posting times. If your audience expects a post every Wednesday and Friday at 12 PM Pacific PDT, then that’s when they’ll be active to look at what you’re putting out. 

A predictable calendar also makes it easier for you to reach your audience.  

Your audience is the most active in the few hours after publishing a post.  times to handle people’s comments and/or respond to their feedback. 

Must know: 6 common social media publishing challenges and how to overcome them 

Address each audience member as a unique individual. Use their first name, ensure that you are responding to their specific queries and maintain a human identity. People don’t want to talk to companies or even AI, they want to talk to people. 

Follow back your brand advocates and active audience members, who consistently engage with your posts.  

Like and comment on their posts and content, but ensure that everything aligns with brand hygiene and maintains strict professional boundaries. Do not engage with any polarizing or controversial content.    

Step 6: Measure performance, course correct and implement feedback 

You already know which metrics define your success, so all you need to do is keep track of them for a predetermined duration and draw rational conclusions from the numbers.  

For example: If you intend to boost brand awareness via community engagement, look at the percentage increase in website visitors, social media followers and engagement actions such as likes, shares, mentions, tags, etc.  

If you’re meeting your goals, you’re all set. If you aren’t, look at the gaps in your strategy. Take user feedback into account from surveys and comments. Look at your competitors. Are they doing something exceedingly well? 

Once again, you need the right tool to glean these numbers across multiple online channels. For example, Sprinklr Service, a 360-degree community management solution, lets you track customer satisfaction in real time and identify current trends and important audience feedback (more on this later). 

Examples of excellent community management 

Take a look at a couple of brands that know to get their community management tactics right. 

Skittles 

Skittles drives community engagement

Source 

Check out how Skittles manages to be funny, Gen Z-trendy and yet, completely appropriate at the same time. This is what happens when your community engagement is about delighting users first and foremost.  

Yorkshire Tea 

Yorkshire Tea - community management strategy

 Source 

*Falls off chair* adds the hilarious cherry on top of this witty tweet. This is a prime example of how you engage with your audience – post something truly relatable. Who among us hasn’t downed a vodka or two in one go, right? 

Community management can reduce your costs (by 33%) with Sprinklr Service 

Sprinklr’s advanced community management software enables brands to engage, moderate, and maintain an online community from a single dashboard. Its numerous features provide a brand’s customers with “always-on” self-service capabilities – proven to drive positive customer experiences without having to spend extra on care team costs. A few of Sprinklr Service’s standout features: 

  • AI and automation-driven engines provide real-time insights into your community’s activities, which enable faster troubleshooting and customer issue resolution 

  • Centralizes all customer conversations and establishes a dedicated channel for customers to offer feedback, complaints and opinions 

  • Allows you to offer personalized customer support and resolve issues without revealing information about the brand and customers 

  • Provides your customer complete control over whom they interact with through direct messaging settings 

  • Offers messaging options with in-built security for communication between customers and community managers   

Want to know how you can amp up your community management efforts?  

Let’s get in touch and discuss how you can deliver community experiences your audience truly deserve.  

Share this Article

Sprinklr Service

Related Topics

Top 10 CCaaS Providers in 202411 Top Customer Engagement Platforms in 2024 [+User Reviews]Customer Retention Management & How to Do It