May 26, 2017

What the Walkers fiasco shows about the importance of community management, from a community manager

Damn trolls. *Eye-roll*. The #WALKERSWAVE campaign is a recent example of, sadly, not being able to trust people online. We feel for Walkers as this could’ve been a great fan engagement and growth campaign. Our condolences.walkerswave_jimmysaville

The desire for brands to grow their online communities and retain a loyal customer base is ever-growing. Social and online marketing is steering away from pure selling and conversion, and towards the idea of engaging with your audience. By building a loyal tribe, you’re more than likely going to see the benefits in the long run. A proven one might we add.

Yet for some in marketing, community management is still a mystery. Many brands struggle to justify the cost of employing someone to chat to fans, moderate their pages, or just know who their online audience. Sure, traditional marketing and paid social may offer clearer ROI and hard conversion, but what’s better than someone who knows your audience inside-out and can easily inform your marketing decisions?

A common myth with community managers is that they roam around Facebook all day, watching drama unfold, just sipping their cup of tea and waiting for someone to comment on something. The amount of times they’re asked, “so what do you do all day? Sit on Facebook?”

Community manager takes a deep breath.

The role of a community manager is much more than this.

Just to list a few things we do:

  1. There’s the insight task. A good community manager gets under the audience’s skin and provides valuable insights to inform strategy and creative decisions.
  2. Keeping on top of trends to ensure the brand remains relevant and at the forefront of social discussions.
  3. Knowing the brand’s industry and background inside out, we inform social content strategies.
  4. Keeping an eagle-eye on competitors that are doing it well, and benchmarking against them.
  5. Measuring content success and audience behaviours to make sure efforts are working. Wasted time and money isn’t helpful for any party involved.
  6. Knowing what platforms your fans hide out in. Where in the world your fans are, how old they are, their favourite things to talk about and even the street they live on. No, just kidding.
  7. Another super important part of a community manager’s role is being the keeper of your brand and for quality control. It’s so easy in this social climate, with that little thing called freedom of speech and all, to have something spiral out of control and quick.

So, back to the Walkers thing. Any good community manager worth their salt and vinegar crisps, could have pre-warned the strategists and creatives behind the project. Seeing that the audience could be cheeky at best, brutal at worst, and to have a plan in place to put out any fires. This was nowhere in sight. The positive in this, is learning that crisis control and moderation is a force not to be reckoned with. Always having someone there to moderate activity can do more good, than harm.

On a sweeter and final note, community managers are the face of your business, essentially an extension from within. Your tone and presence online should reflect the culture, values and behaviours of your brand. It’s so important that you’re authentic, genuine and not trying to pretend to be anyone else.

May the [community management] force be with you. (And your business).