As companies scramble to identify or hire community managers, I often wonder about the criteria that are being drawn up. There is still much confusion on the role of the community manager. More emphatically, though, I wonder to what extent that community manager has been empowered to create a personal dialogue with customers. The trick is trying to balance the return on investment with the time it takes to create, learn and engage as an organization. Community management is [almost] as much about managing your internal community as the community that is your client base. Consequently, the profile of the CM must be in adequation with company culture, able to negotiate through the silos, for example, if such exist. The brand and its senior management need to establish a singular objective around which the organization must rally.
Relearning how to learn
Finding the subject, creating the right tonality and figuring out the right level of interaction is a learning process. This is why outsourcing community management to an agency is a dangerous, not to mention ineffective, option. You don’t capture the learning. Learning organizations that are truly centered around their clients, have a culture of adaptation, flexibility and agility will figure out the path quickest. In the absence of such an environment, my experience shows that success in the social media strategy will be difficult to master.
G&Os, KPIs & ROIs must be intereSTING
One of the key stumbling blocks continues to be the measurement stick. There are two parts to this challenge. The measurement and the stick. Identifying the right KPI’s requires the singleness of mind to be focused on a particular objective — not to try to do all things for all people. With a strong objective in place, one can establish a clearer dashboard, that does not encourage analysis paralysis. Secondly, the stick. It is important that the goals & objectives of the individual community manager be crafted in a way to encourage a qualitative approach, far more than a quantitative approach. Buying audience (adwords, email lists, etc.) or spewing out uninteresting content (ie content farmers) is not a viable recipe. It is less about the quantity of followers, friends or even likes, but the quality of those retweeting and liking articles/content to their engaged audience. This is what I would term as putting some STING* into your content. If your content is interesting and distributed in an intelligent manner, then the engagement will surely follow.
Interest versus goal
One key thought that I heard a while back which I would like to share with you is to configure your social media strategy around an interest rather than on goals. What does this entail? It means knowing who and where your clients are, understanding their needs and then having people within your organization who are naturally, legitimately and inherently passionate about that interest. This is what will put some STING into your conversation. Then you are sure to gain traction over time and the sought-after numbers will come.
*I mean sting as in bite, asperity, true “interest”.