Fan Generated Communities Rock - Stop Stealing Them and Encourage Them
Community Managers are essential in scaling and moderating a growing social media fan base, but social communities might not just exist within the network that is moderated by a social media team. Social Communities can brew anywhere that fans (and not so friendly customers) are active which means they aren’t necessarily going to be in control of a community manager or social media director. Social Communities can pop up anywhere and for some brands; have been active long and before the brand decided to take the step into the social media space.
So how do you handle fan generated social communities that are flourishing and carrying conversations without you? Lets break it down into simple steps before making any harsh decisions.
- Learn From Them
You’ve just been given a great chance to see what the social community is saying about your brand without any influence. Document your findings and discuss what you can do in the social media space to improve upon them. What are they saying are your major flaws? What do they like about the brand that you can hone in on and expand upon? What types of fans are the trendsetters that can later become your brand ambassadors? Become a fly on the wall and take this market research as a golden opportunity within social communities.
- Create A Plan Of Attack
Don’t just go into the conversation without doing your homework. After you’ve learned what the community is talking about and their key points (both negative and positive), create a plan to engage with the social communities. If they are agreeing about certain aspects of your brand that need to be change, prepare adequate answers that encourage their response. Remember, social communities have one goal: to keep the conversation going and encourage change through conversation. If they are singing your praises (lets hope they are) then create a plan on how you can reward your brand ambassadors and redirect them to one of your properties. You don’t want to steal them away from their own conversations, but if you can offer them quality content from a brand they’ve come to trust, they’ll go freely.
It’s time to interact with the fans that are speaking about your brand. Now depending on the network your visibility will greatly increase or decrease. If perhaps you’re on Facebook and your social community has created their own Group on Fan Page, your responses will be documented and presented to the entire group or page. If it’s on Twitter it is very possible that only one person will see what you have to say. Note this moving forward and act as if you’re speaking at a press conference every time. This doesn’t mean you have to be void of personality, but don’t make any promises or moves a proper community manager wouldn’t.
Once the social communities have acknowledged that your brand is validating their presence on social media you can attempt to bring them over to your channels. Don’t do this unless you’re willing to take some backlash from intruding on their conversation. Granted you’re the brand ambassador/community manager, unless you have some quality content to offer they won’t be inclined to listen to you. This is where doing your research before hand is key in determining your content strategy while attempting to migrate fans.
Social Communities exist everywhere even for brands who have their own official communities. Sometimes fans just want to be left alone and out of the big brother spotlight. Do not shun them for this or attempt to take their social communities over! The thought of a high follower count might excite you, but you’re doing your fans an injustice by limited and moderating their conversation that existed in free-form before you got there. Don’t be a jerk. Encourage their conversation and partake in it. Be social dammit – isn’t that the point?
Shaun is a Social Media Director located in New York and Editor of his blog, Social Marvels, a website showcasing the best of Social Media. He's been working with brands for years building content strategies, optimizing their current syndication and paid media campaigns, and coaching them on community engagement. He also enjoys reading comic books and pretending he can play the guitar well.
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