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Think Community First

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By Atiyya Karodia

I’d like for you to think back a number of years to a time when being a Social Media Manager or Community Manager was one of the most sought after gigs around. We were the explorers, testing out new platforms, strategies and above all - being the human voice to our brand’s purpose.

Then we learnt that Content is King and shifted our energy to creating crafted copy and creative executions that could live ‘absolutely anywhere’ on social, and our glorification of community management got knocked down a few notches. The truth is that Content may be King, but without great community management, great content dies a slow digital death.

It’s all about striking a balance and giving your content the best chance at success by understanding a few key points on great community management.

Know your community
More often than not, we’ve all got our digital marketing hats on when we think about Social Media strategies. While this is great for thinking up any idea, it isn’t always the best hat to be wearing when thinking about the best idea for a specific audience. Knowing your community is something I cannot stress enough. We need to be fully immersed in the way our community talks, interacts, consumes and shares content if we ever hope to create and execute great ideas. Community management is more than a CRM tool, or a way to ‘improve brand sentiment’ – it’s a grassroots view of your audience that provides a wealth of insights. Time and again we see brilliant concepts that are executed on the wrong platform, to the wrong audience or in the wrong tone. While creative conceptualisation is vital, a considered approach to the Social Media execution is crucial.

Think about your relationship
Design messiah Todd Waterbury mentions that a key to building any brand is thinking about the relationship that consumers have with the brand. Once you’ve understood the state of the relationship, you have to think about the long term plan and steps to revive, repair or grow the relationship. I think of community management in the same way, except instead of having to ‘spray and pray’ with a wide-reaching campaign, you get to take on the groundwork. This may mean more time spent engaging, but it also means exclusive access to the kind of community insights we spend days on end trying to understand.

Move from transaction to interaction
We conceptualise beautiful strategies and campaigns that translate into great content, but we feed them to our community and leave it at that. We hope that by giving (content), we will receive (engagement). We forget (or even worse, discredit) the fact that while we are waiting for our audiences to initiate a conversation, our communities are conversing with one another. Making the move towards interacting with your community doesn’t require a hefty set of framework, just a little more time and a big dash of passion for what you’re trying to achieve. What it requires, however, is a deep understanding of the brand and its content pillars.

Optimise always
Being a great CM (Community Manager) or SMM (Social Media Manager) means going beyond. You have to be willing to go beyond passively engaging with your community. You also have to be a part-time strategist to gather the most useful insights; but those insights mean nothing if you aren’t listening to them. If your community engages less with video than they do with GIFs, why force another video their way in the hope that their consumption habits will change?

Know your community, understand how they feel about you and interact with them accordingly. Keep your ear to the ground and listen to what your community has to say. Then take that information and create better content, deliver it to your audience in a better way and provide value for them as a brand through stellar community management.
Think community first.

Need help building your online community, Call NATIVE

Atiyya Karodia – Social Media Manager
A technophobe turned ‘Digital Junkie’, Atiyya has been captivated by the fast-paced digital landscape since 2010 when she penned her first blog post. Since then she’s remained immersed in Social Media and Innovative Technology developments, with a growing interest in how people interact with content & each other in the real world and the digital one.

Atiyya is currently a Social Media Manager at Native VML & spends her free time ranting on Twitter.

NATIVE VML is Africa’s leading full service agency for the Digital Age, working as a strategic partner for brands looking to thrive in this continuously connected world.

The cornerstone of our work is to create “purpose-driven work that lives in people’s lives”, which has led to ground-breaking campaigns for South Africa’s most loved brands such as Absolut Vodka, BMW, Chivas Regal, Jameson Whiskey,, Nedbank, Nestle, Old Mutual, Pick ’n Pay, Red Bull, Ster Kinekor and The Foschini Group.

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