Social media is an essential platform when it comes to digital marketing – we get it. But why have a presence on social media if you’re not going to be social? That’s where community management comes in to play.

We’re online every day, and we’re at the point now where instant service online is a baseline expectation. Brands need to be ready to build lasting relationships with consumers, but the importance of having a skilled community manager on the team to do this can be overlooked.

I think there are certain traits a strong community manager will have, that will set them apart in a sea of automated responses. Here are a few:

1. Get up to speed

80% of consumers expect a company to respond to them on social media within 24 hours, and while I won’t deny that chatbots serve a purpose when it comes to speed, I wouldn’t recommend putting your brand’s entire reputation into the hands of AI. At least not yet.

Your community manager needs to be fast, particularly if they are dealing with a complaint. One of the best things that a community manager can do is positively change somebody’s perception of a brand, and speed is one of the most important ways to do this.

AdWeek found that replying to a consumer on social media increases advocacy by 20%, even if a complaint cannot be resolved straight away. So make sure that the consumer knows you’re there to get them the answer they need, even if you can’t yet.

Remember that not everybody is out to get you, and it’s a community manager’s job to keep your loyal brand advocates close. Taking the time to spark back and forth conversations with the people who love your brand will make them feel valued.

The bottom line is that consumers appreciate a real person who can help them, and fast. Which leads me nicely on to my next point.

2. It’s just you and me

77% of people have shown loyalty to a brand that offers a personalised experience, so don’t underestimate the importance of a personalised, one on one conversation.

When shaping the public perception of a brand, a community manager might respond to the same comment or question 100 times a day, but the individual shouldn’t be able to pick up on this. Making them feel listened to will help to maintain a positive relationship with that person, and help to improve the brands reputation.

Personalising responses is another essential community management skill, but the brand’s tone of voice should be consistent across all touchpoints. That means a consistent tone of voice and brand persona, and a community manager should reinforce this with every interaction.

3. Believe everything you hear

I can’t stress how valuable consumer feedback can be. These are the people who buy your product or service and without them, there is no business.

Ignoring feedback (or telling the consumer that you will pass on the feedback and never actually telling anyone) could set the brand back. Listening to what consumers want can help the brand to plan next steps, and paying attention to trends can later inform business decisions that will set the brand apart from the competition.

Final word

Speaking to a brand through social media, is just as much a brand experience as watching a TV ad or buying a product in-store. These are key principles that make up an effective community management strategy, and nailing these principles will help a brand to build relationships, trust and loyalty.