The community manager: How to grow your brand with the most undervalued marketing role

Your social media followers notice when a comment from your audience goes unliked or a question is left with no reply. They see it, register it, and judge it! Without a devoted and responsive community manager, your company comes off cold, corporate, and like you just don’t care. For that reason, community managers are widely employed as social media-focused customer service reps, responsible for catching and responding to all incoming messages. This is a good first step, but an inefficient way to treat this role that creates a lot of opportunity cost.

The community manager is critical to a company’s success on social media and with a few small tweaks, this person can play a significant part in accelerating your brand growth. As the voice of the brand and manager of the online community, the community manager should work to engage, expand, and nurture your audience. Here’s how.

Increasing your return from the community manager looks like…

There are three types of content every business must generate in order to grow a business faster: owned, earned, and paid. Owned is what you publish; earned is when your owned content is shared or someone is publishing about you; paid is anything with spend behind it.

It’s a common misconception that the community manager is only there to like and reply to comments in your own feed. If you’re doing it right, it’s much more than that. It’s about facilitating relationships—where the end goal is actually earned coverage. Earned coverage leads to greater brand reach.

Greater brand reach is associated with faster growth.

Growth of your channels is not a vanity metric. Followers are leads and prospects.

Growing your pool of prospects

The community manager should be tasked with growing your earned coverage as much as possible week over week, and month over month, as you keep tabs on reach.

Here are a few types of “earned” social media coverage and how your community manager can amplify them:

  • Comments and questions left on the photos you publish. This activity is engagement which leads to greater reach of that post. Greater reach of that post is associated with accelerated audience growth if your brand offers something worth subscribing to. Expectations for your community manager should be that in the first few hours of a post being published, they are responding to any comment or question within minutes because will boost the reach of the post and bring more traffic back to your pages. More bang for the exact same buck.
  • Your tagged posts and posts you are mentioned in (aka user-generated content). These are from community members that are more than a customer. We call them a brand evangelist. Community managers should go beyond engaging in these conversations to actually vetting and getting to personally know this pool of customers. If your advocates have quality content, nurture these relationships and seed product with them. In doing so you will generate more earned coverage while knocking dollars off the budget needed to produce your owned content. 
  • Stories that mention you. Any time a customer talks about you on Stories, you should consider sharing it. Check that the person’s profile is public because you can’t share if they are private. As long as their account is public and their content is in alignment with your brand values, you should share it and thank them or add more copy for context to your audience so they know they are hearing from a third party. This boosts the sense of transparency between you and your audience while rewarding the brand evangelist with a public thank you and boost to their own page, entrenching all parties further into their digital bond. The community manager is responsible for sharing these within the closest possible window since Stories are only visible for 24 hours.

Start an organic, zero-budget influencer program

Another thing: The more you perpetuate earned coverage from community members, the more likely you are to see free influencer coverage emerge—I have seen this pattern repeat itself over the past 10 years with every social media program I’ve worked on.

The biggest obstacle between brands and influencer marketing is budget. If your owned channels are filled with high quality content and user-generated shares, this is how it might go: Someone with some digital clout finds you off of an ad. Your direct response copy and product reviews sell them. They buy your product. They receive it. They love it. They go check out your profile—if it looks like you’re trying, they think, I’m going to share a Story about them and let them know I like and support them. They’ll probably reshare and I’ll gain a few new followers.

One of the biggest misconceptions about influencer marketing is that you need a big budget—we disprove this on a daily basis at KW Content using content and community management tactics like this.

Your community manager is in charge of seeing and intercepting this activity. The greater compatibility between your brand, product, values, and mission and the influencer, the more likely you are to be able to engage this person for earned coverage at a zero-sum budget. A zero-sum influencer budget is a worthy program to build and this is the perfect role to do it.

Intrigued and ready for more? Help yourself to my agency’s comprehensive training guide for the community manager role.

KW Content is a global content and social media marketing agency that develops and launches content and social media programs for purpose-driven brands. Strong Brand Social is our favorite place to hang out! That’s where we provide the absolute best (and most accessible) social media marketing education that empowers small brands to develop their own high-performing marketing programs that are guaranteed to drive growth. Teaching from our proven agency methodologies, we simplify the process and demystify the art of social media marketing to offer focus, efficiency, and measurable results to small business owners, brand directors, and social media marketers. [Learn more.]

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