This is a best practice guide for community managers, social media execs and clients looking for tips to assess how thorough their community management and advocacy strategies are.
If you’re new to either of these disciplines then have no fear. We won’t throw you straight in the deep end; there’s lots of extracurricular reading material we’ll link to along the way to guide you through.
Our services in the SHARE Community Management department are firmly rooted in the three distinct strategic pillars:
So, we’d like to discuss exactly what they are and what you need to tick off in each of them to guarantee effective output.
What defines a Community?
Creating an inclusive community for your brand, where a two way channel of communication is established between the followers or prospective followers of a brand’s social media pages and the brand itself. This community is overseen and controlled by a Community Manager (CM).
People often confuse this with someone just replying to customer issues or one of the 40 things a Social Media Manager should be doing, but it’s much more than that. A CM is primarily responsible for delivering always-on community support, including comment responses, scheduling, UGC sourcing and crisis management. It’s a full-time job if your brand wants to take it seriously.
The role is about engaging, listening, finding solutions and offering bespoke experiences.
But most importantly, it’s about creating an emotional connection with people.
Brands have been building communities for years now, but the community management function is going through a renaissance period, as 80% of consumers yearn more than ever for real interactions with a human, in a sea of chatbots, endless customer service calls and the onset of AI.
Community Best Practice Tips
Daily Community Support
Thorough and consistent comment reply coverage, replying within 24 hours to more urgent customer issues and taking them to DM. This builds brand loyalty, increases customer satisfaction and decreases negativity.
Conversation Growth Tactics
Lots of community members love posting their brand love in the comments section. Often this is an emoji or a one word comment. Lots of brands fail to capitalise on these engagements by encouraging the conversation to develop further with a question. This could seriously increase the reach of your content, as the algorithm detects that your post is highly engaged. Asking a question or encouraging further engagement on any comment is a sure-fire way to improve reach.
Tone Of Voice (TOV)
Replying to customers in a bespoke TOV that aligns to the brand strategically. We see lots of brands using a generic ‘admin’ TOV that’s misaligned to the brand in question. Would you want thousands of people walking past your billboard ad to read a different TOV in the copy to your TV ads? On average there are about 50 interactions a day between a brand and its community, so comments are a great way to build brand equity.
Comment Reply Depth
Followers will know when a brand is copy and pasting the same replies to comments. So we recommend building out a large matrix of responses, working backwards from the most common questions and comments historically received in the comments section. Refresh this list every quarter and when you’re comfortable executing the brand’s TOV, plus have the brand’s trust, look to go rogue, tailoring comments on the fly.
This really depends on which channels you’re connecting with your community on, but we recommend harnessing the latest suite of tools at your mercy to reply to fans in less conventional ways. For example, creating bespoke branded GIFs to reply to fans on X, or reply to someone’s comment using an Instagram Story, or address a comment with a video reply if you’re using TikTok.
What defines Advocacy?
Advocacy in the context of social media and community involves customers actively supporting and endorsing a business, its products, and services online. This is reflected in positive discussions within the community, producing user-generated content (UGC), use of branded hashtags and lots of tagging the brand in content.
Generally speaking, from a campaign perspective, there are 5 key areas of an effective brand advocacy program/strategy:
- Authenticity – values and behaviour communicate trustworthiness and honesty to customers
- Play The Long Game – long-term gains and relationships are the priority (often at the cost of short-term sales)
- Remarkable customer experience – products and experiences consistently deliver on lofty promises to customers
- Seeking feedback – feedback is consistently pursued to help improve a brand and its products
- Give without expectation – seek to create value for all stakeholders, and be generous with whatever they have (e.g. time, content, information, store space, returns, repairs etc)
An effective way to organically gauge effective advocacy levels is through a brief review of community channels and conducting hashtag or brand tag searches. For more in-depth reporting you would need to use a third party tool like Sprinklr.
These insights help measure the extent of positive sentiment and community endorsement, providing valuable indicators for the business’s overall impact and potential for increased sales.
Advocacy Best Practice Tips
Encourage UGC + Tagging
Consider producing campaigns that encourage users to share their own content, tagging the brand either into the asset, like an image/video tag, or using a campaign hashtag. This way it’s easy to find and share the content, which leads us onto the next point!
Champion content produced by your community on your page, real people selling to real people is the key to increasing sales. A lot of brands just click share, but we believe UGC should be baked into real content executions and campaigns.
Create a feedback loop. If you’re encouraging users to talk about your products, then make sure you’re actively engaging with their assets to show how much you love the participation. This will in-turn result in your content getting more engagement, as fans yearn for more interaction with the brand.
What defines Outreach?
The art of having conversations with pages outside of your own, using comments / likes and emojis or a combination of all three.
The key is not to spam comments though, the key is to find relevancy. Is someone sharing the same hashtags as you? Is a partner page sharing an asset you’re featured in? Is someone sharing your product but not following you? Outreach is essential for organic community growth.
We outreach by segmenting our followers into ‘Family, ‘Friends’ and ‘Associates’, using social listening to identify individuals who align and continue to engage with us, before jumping into the conversations taking place.
The goal? To establish meaningful connections, build relationships and promote your brand, products, and ideas. This all attracts users to your page, especially the ‘Associates’, the ones not already following you but sharing similar interests and output with the brand.
Outreach Best Practice Tip
Prioritise Your Outreach Efforts
As mentioned above, we split our audiences out by priority, with the key outcome being community growth. So the highest percentage of your outreach efforts, in terms of time, should be spent on the audience that’s not currently following you. For example, an Instagram user in Spain just shared a photo of her new Vans trainers and used #Vans in her post copy but she’s not following the Vans Europe page. Leave a comment telling her how much you like her new purchase. We call this audience the ‘Associates’.
Get in touch if you’d like help with your community or advocacy strategy. We’re the next generation community and advocacy team combining AI, automation and proprietary listening tools with experienced human delivery, to create emotional connections for brand communities at speed.