I always enjoy participating in Social Media Week. Some big agencies may view it as ‘giving back to the community’ but I think we get more than we give. And in the world of digital marketing, there is a real connection among the group who share the job title of Community Manager. So it was a privilege to join four insightful women on stage and welcome more CMs among the standing room only crowd in the H+K bar.
I asked @ScottMonty, Head of Social Media at Ford, for his top tip for Community Managers. His sage advice — Be attentive, be available, be yourself — and the experiences of our panelists point to listening, empathy and common sense as the best practices of good community managers. Genuinely being a nice person might be the only real secret.
Our panel: Bethony Taylor of HSBC, Hannah Ryan of H+K London representing Tango, Alexandra Roumbas Goldstein of Dogs Trust, and Line Rochard of H+K Paris representing eBay. I purposely looked for a diverse range of brands and both in-house and agency side CMs. One of the interesting things to come out of the panel discussion, though, is how similar their views were at heart.
Customer Service: HSBC and eBay both talked about moving issues to customer service channels to solve them. The French eBay site even created an app so users could submit their issues without revealing their eBay numbers on the Page Wall. HSBC will favorite a tweet as a lightweight compliment.
Content: All the panelists agreed on the importance of fresh, ongoing content, and to test and learn what type gets the best reaction from their community. Posting advertising tends to get brands de-friended. Dogs Trust uses a range of social platforms and has studied over the years how to select the right kind of content for each one. Posting the same thing on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, et al, is unsophisticated, ineffective and lazy. Tango has grown their Facebook Page via cheap & cheeky content alone, with no ad spend.
Community: The Tango young male target likes a laugh and as CM, Hannah keeps the brand tone light and right. In a different way, Bee does the same with the regulated environment of HSBC. Indeed the thing that struck me was that good Community Managers really live the job. They think about it even when off duty, jotting notes or bookmarking items of interest. They care.
What’s key is that Community Managers are now part of a full service team. They follow the same overall brand strategy and content calendar, and get support from creative technologists and crisis experts when needed. We do quite a bit of client side training at H+K, including online crisis simulations, which give in-house staff hands-on experience dealing with issues in a safe environment. And we counsel clients not to separate community management and social media from their overall communication programs. Our panelists are all part of their brand teams, much as a press office has always been. And it is no secret how much pride Bee, Hannah, Alex and Line take in representing their brands.