Whilst community management has been around for decades, the title now applies to many different roles. Job descriptions often describe completely different roles for the title of Community Manager.
One of the most common is that of a Facebook Admin – which can be made up of moderator, editor, and content curator tasks. It is important to note here that “Traditional” Community Managers are usually tasked with building engaged online communities, mostly in forum environments, which requires them to work more broadly than purely on the Facebook platform.
That said, as Facebook is so extensively used, the following five tips are tried and true community building tips that Facebook Admins can use to grow engaged brand pages.
- Recruit members: Whether your Facebook Page is in its inception or long-established – recruiting new members helps build engagement. To state the obvious, advertising will attract the people who see an ad and click on it. It will rarely attract active community members who share the interest or purpose of your community, and who will help to drive conversation and convert more new and active members. Influencer engagement is something we talk about often and use more to gain reach on campaigns. Employ the same principles, look for the most active members you have currently, search Twitter and the blogosphere for potential new community members who have a shared purpose with your community and invite them to participate. We’re not talking about those with the biggest following, but those with a genuine interest and influence relating to your community’s purpose. Invite these people to your community, embrace them as your core members, ask them for content ideas, reward or incentivise them for participation, help them to feel a sense of ownership of the community.
- Foster and encourage conversation: So many brands and organisations continue to follow the broadcast model on Facebook – scheduling updates and moderating only to remove offensive content. It’s important that Facebook Admins make use of the functionality available only in the best interests of community building. Some Facebook functionality, such as scheduled posts, can be detrimental to your community. You’re pumping in content, but are not part of the conversation. Other functionality, such as nested comments, can allow you to develop rich member-to-member conversations. For traditional Community Managers, member-to-member conversation is a key indicator of a healthy community, and whilst you do need to be driving the conversations on Facebook, you also want your community members to participate in those conversations and interact with each other as much as possible. Be there when the community is active, respond to member questions promptly and, most importantly, further the discussion.
- Don’t over-manage: You want to be a part of your community and as the representative for your organisation you have a duty of care to manage and moderate it effectively. However, it’s vital your members feel a sense of ownership or you will never build a successful community. Successful communities should self-moderate and manage. Self-moderation means that other members will either respond in a way that reflects how you might or will make use of Facebook’s reporting functionality to have offensive content removed. In addition to this, try only to delete those comments and conversations that are detrimental to the community. For example, heated (on-topic) discussions between community members show a passion for your community and its purpose, unless they are outright flaming, they’re good things and should be monitored but not deleted. It makes the community interesting. Developing a shared sense of community frees up your time from moderation for more proactive tasks such as conversation building and content-creation.
- Spend more time on proactive, rather than reactive work: With Facebook flashing up those dreaded red notifications that vie for your attention and constantly emailing you about interactions on your page, it can be incredibly difficult to manage your time on what’s important. Don’t get me wrong, moderation is vital, but it shouldn’t take up the bulk of your time. Set yourself a limit on how often you’ll moderate. Facebook provides a wealth of information with its insights – make sure you’re spending time learning what content your members favour, what times of day they’re most active and understanding the life-span of your content. Create reports that show this data along with images of successful posts and share them with your key stakeholders. This can help to build relationships within your organisation, which in turn can create opportunities for new content.
- The best content for a community is content by the community: It’s often the marketing and communications teams driving the broadcasting of messages to your Facebook audience. As the Community Manager you’re in the community on a daily basis, you know your community best. What questions are asked of you regularly that you can turn into content to share on the page? Can you have a member of the week or month, or write member profiles? What recurring themes arise in response to the content you currently share? Are you getting some great user comments that you can share back to the community? Feed your suggestions back to the content creators if that’s not you and make sure you’re heard – give your community the content they’re after. It’s vital as a Community Manager to remember that the people, your members, and the shared purpose or interest they have in being there are of the utmost importance – deliver them content around this and you’ll see your engagement sky-rocket.