July 17, 2017

8 Tips for Social Media Community Management

photo by: Mark Sandlin

Building a community was one key to success in the campaign for the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.

Your organization has established itself in the world of social media with multiple accounts. You are gaining followers and came up with a plan to share out content on a regular basis, but now what?

Another key to a successful social media presence is building a community. Although building one is not an easy exercise, once you have an audience built up and craving more information, you also created a network of ambassadors who are willing to help build your brand and broaden your base of support for historic preservation.

With that in mind here are a few tips to get you started...

1. Get colleague buy-in.

Getting internal buy-in from your organization will go a long way to help with your community management work, as questions will arise that are outside of the community manager's area of expertise. Having your resources lined up in advance will help prevent getting overwhelmed with questions. Talk to your colleagues and explain your goals/objectives and let them know you may be calling out for help from time to time.

2. Use a management tool.

While it is possible to answer all question tweets via Twitter or Facebook, it makes for a tough job managing all the different feedback coming in from your accounts, as there is no way to mark posts still waiting on your reply. I wholeheartedly recommend trying a community management tool like Hootsuite, which comes in a free and paid version, or low-cost alternatives like AgoraPulse or Sprout Social.

3. Respond regularly.

Set aside time each day that you will devote only to community management. It could be first thing in the morning when the office is quiet, just after lunch, or the last thing you do before you leave work. Regardless, setting aside at least an hour a day will help you immensely.

At the same time, though, recognize that you need down time. The National Trust's social media team can tell you that it's easy to fall into the habit of checking on what's happening on their channels in the evening while spending time in front of the television, but it's not a requirement (just an obsession!).

James River Outreach Campaign

photo by: Elli Morris

The #DownToTheWire campaign involved engaging with our community both online and in-person.

4. Offer service with a smile.

I always rely on my customer service skill learned in the retail world when working in community management—you always provide correct information or point users in the right direction in the kindest way possible. And, while that attitude may not always be returned, you are the “face” of your organization, and service with a smile is vitally important.

5. Know your followers and be proactive.

As your follower count grows, be sure to look at them as individuals. Keep an eye on what content gets the most comments, and even start your own FAQ for certain types of posts that consistently have the same questions or comments. The better you know your audience and tailor your content to them, the bigger the audience gets, and the more likes, shares, and comments will come.

6. Put followers on the path to support.

Remember that you have an end goal with your social media followers. Sure, you want them to be informed citizens when it comes to historic preservation, but you also want to put them on the path to supporting your organization and the preservation movement as well.

If you have a membership program with benefits, be sure to add language to your response that includes something like, “Thanks again for asking and remember you can visit our site for a discounted rate next time if you become a member. Visit our website here for more info...” Or, you can remind them of your upcoming events and activities. Give your followers a reason to build a relationship with your organization!

7. Tap your influencers.

When you start to see the same names over and over who are all-star Facebook fans who share many of your posts or have amazing photos on their Instagram accounts, get to know them even better. Research how many followers they have and who their followers are because you may want to connect with them to broaden the scope of your message.

For example, if someone takes great historic photos in a neighboring state or city, invite them to come out to your site as a guest Instagrammer on your account one day. Of course, you’ll want to work on a plan and have guidelines for them to follow, but by exposing their healthy number of followers to your site or organization, you’re tapping your influencers.

8. There are always bad apples, but they don't have to spoil the barrel.

And speaking of plans, always have a plan in place for the bad apples. Like I said above, I consider community management to be a lot like front line retail sales. For every 25 people you interact with, they’ll be one that gets your goat in some way. Most times you just sigh to yourself and keep moving through your other comments, but other times the comments might be hurtful, hateful, or worse.

Make sure you have community guidelines for your social media channels so that you have something to point to if you need to hide comments or even ban someone from your page for abusive or inflammatory language. At the National Trust, for example, we state on our Facebook page that we enforce the same Terms of Use for our Facebook account as our website.

These eight tips are just the beginning of community management, but if you follow them I am sure you’ll be able to add even more to the list in no time at all.

Tim Mikulski was the social media community manager for the National Trust. He answered questions and shared news/information across all of the Trust's social channels.

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