Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Steps to Building a Successful Community Management Portfolio | Blessing Onyegbula


Community management according to Hubspot involves growing an authentic community amongst the various customers, employees, and partners of a business through various types of interaction. It's how a brand uses opportunities (in-person and online) to interact with their audience to create a network in which they can connect, share, and grow. Authentic here is what makes your business unique, which highlights its relatability and strength. This is the Hallmark of a value-driven business.

Portfolio, on the other hand, refers to a collection of drawings, designs, writings, etc that represents a person's work. So in this case, Community Management Portfolio simply refers to the collection of strategies involved in Community Management. See, all broken down.

This should not just be about the customers or clients but also about the employees. It involves ensuring a system is in place to give your team members an easy environment to flourish, this will eventually be good for your business.

As a business owner, community management is key as it gives your business a personal feel. It's widespread among businesses that make use of Social media which is a major feature of the digital age and a way of tapping into the vast audience which the internet provides. It should, however not be confused with social media marketing which is a different concept. Social media marketing focuses on content for the audience, traffic and all while Community Management steps in to create a smooth and intimate relationship with this audience gathered.

Before fully delving into how you can go about building a community management portfolio, it's important we consider its amazing benefits and why businesses seem to be focusing on it in these times. Since community management is an integral part of Social media marketing and also shares a close link with customer care services, the first thing to consider is how it helps you better understand the needs of your customers.

It's no longer news that business should see to the needs of the customers and not be focused on making profits, after all, happy customers equal better profit margin.

Now, consider a situation whereby you as a business owner has a strategy that allows you to easily get in touch with your customers and business partners and can have access to their feedback and suggestions, this allows you to easily create products focused on their needs. This is possible simply because you gave them a sense of belonging in your business activities, you made them feel like human beings, like people that can contribute to your business and a not mere number in the audience.

This also helps in retaining your customers and clients, the community you have built and they get to be your business advocates. At this point, they'll be willing to spread good news about your business just because they like the feel-good vibe which your business gives them. So you easily enjoy the benefits of referrals and advertising just because of your effort at growing your community.

For Hubspot's Social Media Community Manager, Krystal Wu, "brands need to hire community managers because they’re the tone, voice, and human element behind your brand”. This summarizes the place of community management in our digital world. I mean it's human beings that work behind the scenes for the growth of the business and also patronize the business, so the least a business can do is to give the experience of doing all these a personalized feel.

Enough rambling, let's get down to the business of creating a Community Management Portfolio.

How to Build a Community Management Portfolio
Fancy headline aside, building a CMP does not have to be difficult, all you need is creativity and time (in this case, consistency is key). Especially as we now have an abundance of tools that can make your digital marketing task easier. Let's get to it already!

1. Establish your business goal: This is the obvious first step as it should be with carrying out any task. Having a goal in mind helps to give your journey towards Community Management a specific path, it helps you define what and what strategies should be adopted, what shouldn't and the extent of its implementation.

This also helps you determine the kind of Community Management you have in mind for your business because they vary (unfortunately, this is not within the scope of this post so I won't be elaborating on that). Determining this is also dependent on the stage your business is at, as such you may not want to invest much energy into some aspects compared to others (this should give you an idea on what I mean by types of community management).

2. Choose the platform: Now because Community Management is better established with social media, you must decide the right one to start with; you don't necessarily have to limit yourself to one though. Knowing the platform helps you decide the strategies to put in place because different social media platforms work in different ways. You can easily start with the platform your business is most active in, in terms of audience and all.

However, you can also make use of other platforms like your website which should be optimized for SEO and usability. When using your website, have a page that contains guidelines for interaction and also a spot for FAQs (frequently asked questions), it's the first point of customer care service. Email lists also help in giving notification about offers, taste samples, etc. Again this is dependent on the type of business you run. Slack and its availability of channels is also very great for internal interaction amongst team members; this is what I meant when I talked about creating the right environment for your team members earlier on. For the sake of this post, our focus will be on the use of Social media.

3. Techniques: Now this is where the work starts. The strategies can be divided into four:

- Engaging: This involves you having active conversations and proactively engaging with customers, prospects, and influencers, through question and answer posts, periodic challenges and contests, etc. This is easy with the different social media platforms available. Now, businesses can have accounts that allow them to interact with their customers, respond to queries or complaints, etc. It can be very tempting to use chatbots to engage with your audience but this is not advisable, once detected, this can prove counterproductive as it leaves a bad taste in your audience' mouth. This is why you need a good social media manager on your team, that is if you decide to have a different person in charge of your social media pages.

Thus, your audience is gradually becoming a Community that can easily be carried along and have a sense of belonging. You can even take it a step further by encouraging online reviews and attaching a branded hashtag to it, doing giveaways with branded articles as a way of appreciation and if possible participate in trade fairs and meetups. Believe me, there are levels to this, but the results are gratifying. An extra tip when relating with the audience especially replying queries: you can attach a name or initials to the response to let the other end know there's a face behind it all.

- Moderating: Here, you fish out unsavoury comments and promptly respond to customer complaints. This is very important for your brand as it gives it a very organized and sane look which attracts the audience. Things as little as vulgarity, unanswered queries, etc can discourage the audience as it doesn't speak well of the brand. The goal is to ensure that the "environment" is "clean" for the community to thrive.

- Monitoring: Ever heard of social listening? This simply refers to listening in on and tracking conversations that relate to your brand. Here, you evaluate the activities that affect your brand and stay up to date with them. This also helps in content generation and eventually lead generation if done well. A tool like Flipboard can help you.

- Measuring: Here, you analyse your brand's perception out there and get genuine, no-holds-barred feedback. Google analytics, sprout social, Hubspot can help with this. Furthermore, you can easily make use of the analytics provided on the Social media platform like Twitter analytics, Instagram analytics, etc. They help you gain real insights and accurately understand what's working and what isn't. Asking for feedback and reviews is also a good way to go.

Remember, for all these, there are tools designed to make the task easier so feel free to utilise them. They make your work easier and give the best results and they don't get in the way of interaction with your followers or customers. The strategies are not exhausted here but this is a good place to start.

Finally, understand that Community Management is a concerted effort involving your team as it is also mostly geared towards your audience ie customers, vendors and partners so each stakeholder needs to be satisfied. A Community manager maybe your social media handler, but be sure to share the task so it doesn't end up being too stressful. Keep Updating, Monitoring and Upgrading.


Written by: Blessing Onyegbula

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