In honor of Community Manager Appreciation Day this week, I was inspired to write a post that highlights the role of community managers and how they can help cultivate online audiences for nonprofit organizations.
What is it that community managers do? In essence, they are the gardeners that tend to the growing seeds of online communities. They listen and engage in online conversations, strategize about the best ways to reach audiences, use analytics to make data-driven decisions and create engaging content.
Large organizations may have resources to split social media responsibilities into social media managers and community managers. According to Sprout Social, these are similar but distinct roles:
- Social Media Manager: Creates content, answers queries and responds to comments as the brand (generally with people who have already heard of it).
- Community Manager: Advocates the brand on social networks through their own persona, reaching and building relationships with potential community members in order to increase brand awareness.
Many nonprofits and smaller organizations don’t have the luxury of splitting social media management tasks between two employees. Often times, community managers are responsible for not only posting as the brand on social media, but also advocating the brand on these social platforms as their own online social media accounts.
Below are a few tips to make managing your social media community a bit easier to do on a small budget if you’re a social media manager, community manager, or both:
- Plan ahead. While social media is excellent for responding quickly to emerging trends, prepare an editorial calendar in advance. This takes a bit of time on the front end when you’re developing the content, but it will make the actual implementation much easier when it comes time to post.
- Use analytics. Make sure your posts are engaging your audience. Of course, finding content that truly resonates with your online community takes some experimentation, but analytics tools (Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, Google Analytics, etc.) will tell you whether or not that post was worth the time to draft. Analytics tools also can inform the types of content (photo, video, text, etc.) to invest in for the future.
- Use free newsletters and listening tools. Part of being a community manager is having an ear to the ground when it comes to trends. Subscribe to relevant newsletters (we love the DigitalGov.gov e-blast for tech news) and make sure you’re tracking mentions of your brand on platforms like Hootsuite. While finding these resources can be a bit tricky, once you have your foundation built, monitoring these sources will only take you a few minutes at a time!