The significance of social media community management in a post-shutdown world

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Weeks into the start of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown in 2020, I virtually met Kathie, Bernice, Amanda, Rick, Travis and dozens of others. Their gathering spot, Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen, Minn., was closed, like everything else. They posted messages on Facebook saying, “I miss you,” “See you soon, Shooting Star,” “Can’t wait for you to open.” The casino was real, human-like now—a representative for community, an entity much more than a building and entertainment. The casino was their friend, and their physical community shifted to social media where they expected to interact with the place they missed so dearly.  

Getting into the groove of “being” Shooting Star was easy. I’m midwestern and gosh, I love to be nice and make people happy. I spent hours and hours each week responding to messages and comments, updating patrons on the latest news and reassuring our loyal followers that we’d be back as soon as we could. The reception was warm, for the most part. People were frustrated about the shutdown and they needed my attention too. Ah, community management.  

In our post-shutdown world, the significance of community management has become even more pronounced, as audiences seek genuine connections and authentic experiences. Let’s talk about community management, its importance and what audiences expect in this new era. 

What is community management?

Community management is the art of engaging audiences across social media networks to foster brand loyalty and establish authentic connections. It’s an art because there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, although there are best practices. Community management goes beyond posting and scheduling, it’s the actual social part of social media that creates interaction that transcends the traditional brand-consumer relationship. 

Think about how it feels when a big brand acknowledges your social media comment. You feel special, right? Seen? Part of something? That’s community management being done well.  

Why must (yes, MUST!) brands do community management?

Community management serves as the foundation for several crucial aspects of brand strategy. 

Strengthening/building relationships: Authentic connections breed loyalty, and community management is the conduit to nurturing these relationships. 

Promoting authenticity: In an era where consumers crave authenticity, community management humanizes brands by allowing them to showcase their real, relatable side. 

Content ideas: The social community is a treasure trove of ideas. These are your consumers! By actively engaging with the audience, brands can glean insights and inspiration for fresh, resonant content. 

Increasing brand visibility: A well-managed community amplifies brand visibility, creating a ripple effect as engaged followers become brand advocates. 

Why is community management still important in our post-shutdown world?

The landscape has shifted, and so have consumer expectations. According to a Q1 ’23 Sprout Social pulse survey, consumers are now 77% more likely to increase spending with brands they feel connected to, a substantial increase from 57% in 2018. Community management is the key to unlocking this connection, as it fosters the emotional bonds that drive consumer loyalty. 

Unsurprisingly, there was a significant increase in the average time people spent on social media in 2020: 65 minutes daily, compared to 54 minutes and 56 minutes the years before, according to Statista. Social media became the news, your BFF, your job and your entertainment—and consumers’ expectations are still high. More than 75% of customers expect a business or brand to respond on social media within 24 hours, according to Sprout Social.  

71% of consumers who have a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend the brand to their friends and family.

At Flint Group, we approach community management with a people-centric mindset. We’re serving our clients, yes, but ultimately, we’re serving their customers, fans and audiences. What’s bugging our customers right now? Check social media. How do they incorporate our products in their life? Check social media. What matters to our fans? Check social media. You get the idea. Community management is both a brand reputation effort and a customer care act.  

We also track responses and use community management guides and escalation when necessary, ensuring messages across channels are consistent and people get the care they need while the brand’s reputation remains positive.  

Our response time, too, is tracked so we know that we’re hitting or exceeding goals for responding. We know people expect a response, and we provide that.  

Community management plays a pivotal role in shaping brand perceptions. By placing the audience at the core of our strategies, we can tailor content, responses and engagement initiatives to meet their evolving expectations. Kathie, Bernice, Amanda, Rick and Travis will thank you.  

Need help navigating your way to a successful social community? Let’s talk!  

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Anna Larson

Anna is a social media and content strategist and PR/social manager who creates community online and offline. Her 15+ years of experience helps organizations deliver engaging content on social media. She knows that adopting a customer-centric mindset is at the core of developing a strong brand and telling an impactful story. Anna provides both the detailed and big-picture thinking for clients. A natural born problem-solver and teacher, she never stops seeking out new ideas and inspiration. Her greatest passion is leading with empathy and helping her team grow and feel valued. She loves Brené Brown quotes and a good heart-to-heart. At the end of the day, what matters most to her is knowing she helped make a difference.

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