Six Reasons Why Community Management is the Future of Digital Strategy
Aaron Sagotsky

Don’t ask me to join your Facebook group. I’ll intentionally scribble chicken scratch on your email list so I don’t have to be bothered to delete emails in the promotion tab in my mail. I may love a brand or service, but I don’t want to repost, retweet or represent that company on my own time. I can be plenty enthusiastic and engaged, but I want to do it on my own terms. Basically, I am most community manager’s worst nightmare.

1 - Voice of Customers, Voice of Brand

Community managers are the advocates of the brand as well as the advocates of the customer. They build customer relationships, ensuring existing customers are satisfied and engaged. To those unfamiliar with the role, they may first guess a community manager is involved with HR.  It may get confused with a social media managers as well. Customer feedback is one of the separation points between a social media manager and a community manager. While social media manager champions the brand on those platforms, a community manager needs to do that in addition to communicating the customer's needs to the product group. Having an open rapport with the in-house product team is essential to the role. While social media managers  work exclusively with social media channels, community managers channels can be online or offline. Naturally, the community manager comes to be the face of the brand, representing the communication of the brand to the users. and vice versa.

2 -Ease of search-->User experience-->Retention

User experience is more important than ever. Smartphones and widespread internet allow people an easier ability to search for alternatives. Yelp is the ultimate example of community user experience leading to new decision making. Because of this, retention should be a stronger focus for new companies. A study by Bain and Company shows profits can increase 95% when increasing retention rates by 5%. Feeling engaged in a particular network can endear more brand loyalty.

3 - Word of mouth

‘Word of mouth’ is one of the most powerful forms of marketing. The #1 influencer for purchases is referrals. Naturally, this is impossible to completely control. Even if consumers like a product, the referral will be minimal if the people in the Facebook group, twitter followers et al are not engaged. A good community manager can instill the activity through events, campaigns, contests or more (see next point) that can lead to referrals. Many startups, naturally, have a limited budget. With limited resources, having an active and passionate following is a major advantage.

4 - Variety of ways to outreach

The type of community outreach can vary. Loyal, a New York based community development studio, was hired by General Electric to create awareness and educate customers to 3D printing. Loyal developed a ‘3D Printing Day’ Holiday by leveraging GE’s existing partnerships and existing agencies. The campaign had 4 million twitter impressions, 360 K+ total engagements and 18 media pieces in AdAge, Fast company and more. 

5 - Strengthening Internal Culture

Culture always begins with founders. The tone from the top. However, community managers can be responsible to nurture and develop it.  The same way community managers can be the voice of customers, they can echo the thoughts and concerns of the employees upwards. Having an open forum for complaints or innovation can be less intimidating than approaching top management directly.

6- A Developed community can add value to the product

A community can serve as added value for customers. Adobe created a forum page for their design tools where customers helped other customers maximize the use of all the products. Consumers had previously created forum pages on different sites but making an available page on their to ask and answer those questions improves the product. Plus, they gained more control over the conversation and are able to easily address any new issues.

Straight-forward accommodaties markets like paper towels or toothpaste may not be able to generate the enthusiasm or energy for an engaged community outreach. However, companies like Sharpie has had success interacting with their fan-base by posting on Instagram. Clearly, there are numerous methods community managers can successfully engage a community which can create benefits beyond one time conversion.