I am lucky enough to have worked at companies that place a high value on community. A company would not be a company if it weren’t for the customers or users, right? If a group of people are so important that your company would fail without them, then it makes sense to guard that group of people with your life—or at the very least with a community manager. Here’s why.
A healthy community attracts new customers/users.
You have potential customers/users constantly circling your business, coming to you through search, social media, word of mouth and all your marketing activities. These people are thinking about choosing your business, but they’re also looking at your competitors. Having a community manager waiting at the virtual door to welcome potential customers/users will make them much more likely to become a community member, and choose you over your competitor.
You can’t succeed on product alone. Tweet this.
So you’ve built an amazing business. But an amazing business alone does not attract the masses to whatever you’re offering—this is where your community manager adds tremendous value. They’re the ones listening to your target’s needs, and making sure that those needs are being met by your business.
A community does not take off by itself.
Did you know that Reddit started off with fake accounts created by its founders? Or that eBay bought and sold their own products? These sites needed to show that they had activity before people started coming in, because no one wants to be a part of an empty community. A community manager is there to create that activity early on and facilitate real interaction as the community starts to grow.
There is no such thing as a self-sustaining community. Tweet this.
So your community has taken off, and now is when your community needs a caretaker to ensure continuous interaction and engagement. A community manager’s major function is to make sure members are getting value from your business and keep coming back. Think of your community like a plant—feed it and it will grow. A community manager creates programs and fosters a culture for fans to spread the good word to more people. Don’t feed your community, and it will wither and die.
Someone needs to care.
The most important tools in a community manager’s toolbox are not the forum, Adobe Creative Suite, Facebook or Snapchat; they are tools you can’t buy: empathy, positivity and a caring nature. In previous communities I’ve managed, I’ve seen how a business can make people happy. Your members want to share their stories with you. Having a community manager there to listen and care about your members will secure them as customers/users for a long time.
A community manager nurtures highly important relationships.
The most influential members of your community (often called celebrities, VIPs, power users and more) are vital to your business. Why? They recommend your business to the massive networks of people connected to them. No one is more qualified to manage these relationships than your community manager. They seek out, listen to, interact with and reward your most important members.
A community manager is the first point of response in a crisis.
When shit hits the fan, as it often does in business, the actions you take in the immediate aftermath will make or break the relationship you have with your customers/users. Take for example the social media sharing app Buffer, who in the face of a data hack, immediately alerted their customers as to what happened in simple language. For an example of what NOT to do, just look at Yahoo, who took three years to alert their users to their 2013 data breach of one billion accounts. Buffer is a community-first company, and their actions ensured they maintained the trust and loyalty of their user base. How many people do you know remain loyal to Yahoo?
Feed the feedback loop. Tweet this.
A personal mantra of mine is to always be improving and this applies to both personal life and business. Your community is a rich resource of comments, ideas, suggestions, pain points and criticisms on how to improve your product from the people who matter the most. A community manager is the voice of your users within the four walls of your company’s offices. Your users need that voice or else they’ll abandon your brand in favor of a brand that does listen.
Retention is often tragically overlooked.
Fact: it costs 80% more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. Who in your company focuses on retention? From what I’ve seen in many businesses, no one is directly managing this essential area. The best person to take responsibility for retaining your customers/users is the person who knows them the best. Yep, you guessed it—that’s your community manager.
Measure to succeed.
Community management isn’t all hugs and feelings. You’ve established a community to drive one or more business needs. A community manager knows what data points to measure, and how to stay on track to meet organizational goals.
Community Makes Your Business More Profitable
The work of the online community manager, once ambiguous and immeasurable, is shown to directly impact the bottom line as seen in countless examples of successful community-first businesses. Connecting people within your community, making them happy and ensuring that they stick around are proven ways to boost their loyalty to your brand, their level of engagement with your business and their willingness to spread positive word of mouth about your company.