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Best practice for managing an online community

27.3% of people use online communities when making purchasing decisions, so they serve a key purpose in relation to revenue - and reputation!

Sophie Thompson
23rd April 2021

The key to any successful community is community management. This means shaping the community experience for members, and the brand association for your business. 27.3% of people use online communities when making purchasing decisions, so they really do serve a key purpose in relation to revenue - and reputation!

Here are our best practice tips for managing your online community…

Stay aligned to your social media policy

If you don’t have a social media policy - create one! A social media policy makes social media management a lot simpler. Everyone across your business (not just marketing) is clear on what rules and guidelines you have in place for your social media channels, what can be posted, how positive and negative comments should be handled and who is responsible for it.

Policy guidelines for online communities can include the following:

  • How often to check inboxes
  • How to handle queries
  • Which teams handle specific queries
  • What types of comments you reply to and what types comments you don’t engage with topics of conversations you like to be part of
  • The tone-of-voice you use to interact with people
  • Escalation processes for negative or derogatory interactions
  • Sharing processes for positive feedback and insightful information

Lynsey Sweales from Socialb made a great suggestion in our recent webinar:

“Having members of the team sign off all posts and comments with their names allows everyone to take ownership of their role, and helps managers identify instances where further training may be needed”

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Make sure the community has value for members - the relationship can't be one-sided

An online community is a great way to connect with people from similar industries, but the market is so saturated you need to give people a real reason to want to join your group and actually engage with the content/network.

Here are a few ideas for adding value to your community:

  • An exclusive discount for community members
  • Using the community platform to announce new product launches and company updates ahead of wider communications
  • Training opportunities
  • Community events
  • Regular meetings with your senior team to give feedback and suggestions
  • Community gifts and swag
  • Personal brand building opportunities like invitation to write guest blogs or host webinars
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Offering something in return for joining your community builds trust between your brand and the customer. According to Tech Crunch, Facebook Groups have one billion users, proving the power in offering people the chance to connect with like minded peers - especially during this time of living virtually.

Prove the ROI to your business

When a community expands the task of community management becomes a full-time role. This is typically when questions begin to be raised about its worth, and you may be asked to prove the community value to senior managers. This is especially important if you’re pleading the case for a new hire dedicated to looking after your community.

Think about the following when looking at the ROI of your online community:

  • How many leads and conversions is this driving?
  • Are people engaged with your content? Or are you posting into thin air?
  • Non-financial benefits, such as how content boosts your audience, or builds relationships
  • What are you trying to achieve from your community and what actions are you taking to get there?

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Use high-quality content

Customers and contacts join your community to get value from it, so think about the types of resources and content they want to see, rather than what you want them to consume.

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For example, ContentCal’s community is primarily our Facebook group. We’ve identified that most of our Facebook group users are already ContentCal customers, so we know not to sell to them! We also avoid posting competitor comparison blogs, because we certainly don’t want to promote competitors to our existing customers, and they already love us anyway, so have no need to hear about other social media tools! Instead, we share tips and resources that help our customers produce the best possible content, including strategy templates and social post ideas. We also announce new features early within the group.

Use the right community management tools

As with social media management, having the right community management tools is essential to success. Thankfully, ContentCal provides both within one platform.

Our new Engage feature allows you to:

  • Organize messages in one central inbox
  • Prioritize important interactions, especially useful for managing negative engagement
  • Respond to comments in real time
  • Assign conversations to the team members who are best placed to respond
  • Collaborate internally to gather expert input before you reply
  • Categorize messages by type, like ‘complaint’, ‘sales opportunity’ or ‘compliment’

Research shows that someone who receives good customer service will tell nine other people about it. If someone has a bad experience, that number rockets to 16. Timing is crucial for providing an excellent customer experience, which is why Engage also provides real-time monitoring, sending inquiries and messages straight to your inbox.

Whatever your choice of community management tool (and we hope it’s ContentCal) the above should form your essential requirements list when looking at features.

Book a personalized demo of ContentCal here, and be one of the first to check out our community management tool Engage.

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