Social media marketing vs. community management

Social media marketing vs. community management

The uptake of social media in society has been rapid and there isn't a rule book about "how to do social media right", especially for business owners.

There are as many bad examples out there as there are good. There are hundreds of self-proclaimed social media marketing "experts". You know, the ones who promise incredible results if you'll only follow their "exclusive social media system endorsed by Mark Zuckerberg himself".

There are so many ideas and opinions out there that the most attractive option is to bury your head in the sand and hope it all goes away.

Confession time: I know exactly how you feel!

To help you find some clarity in the confusion, I want to explore two different but related approaches to using social media.

Did you know that:

  • just having a Facebook page for your business is not necessarily marketing, and,
  • just putting posts up, but not responding to comments or complaints, is not a great strategy in managing your online community.

Whilst there is overlap between social media marketing and community management, they largely have two separate functions. It is helpful to understand the differences between the two.

Social Media Marketing Community Management Facebook 1

Social Media Marketing

The goal of social media marketing is to drive people to take action (a purchase, signing up to your email, completing an enquiry).

You do this by:

  • using paid adverts on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram
  • putting the benefits of our product or service front and centre
  • asking customers to buy on our online shop or enquire on our website

Adverts are typically quick to be designed and promoted, have the ability to be measured, and have a distinct 'call to action' component—directions to the viewer on what to do next.

If your adverts on social don't have a call to action—buy now, learn more, sign up, book now—then you need rethink your strategy before you waste any more money. Talk to us about how to make Facebook advertising work for your business.

Community Management on Social Media

The purpose of community management is to create and nurture your online community—your social media audience—to make that community more cohesive and stronger.

Community management includes:

  • responding to complaints
  • sharing news or praise/posting updates
  • attracting an audience
  • engaging existing participants
  • taking on a customer service / PR role
  • building brand reputation
  • building trust and authority with the community
  • monitoring and listening to conversations about your brand and responding to them

It may or may not involve "obvious" marketing, but the overlap between the two functions occurs as managing your community well leads to a more engaged audience. A more engaged audience increases the chances of word of mouth and making sales.

It is less immediate in making sales by direct marketing activities but it is no less important as building relationships with your community will ultimately build your business. If you show you care and take the time to connect with your customers where they are on social media then those customers will be more likely to buy from you or advocate for you over time.

Which one should I focus on?

Ideally you should do both. Get quick wins with your marketing effort AND build long term relationships with clients using effective community management tactics.

Consider ... what are your goals?

Do you need to make sales with calls to actions and strong marketing messages?
Are you more focused on building brand reputation and goodwill?

In practice, the two activities complement each other BUT be aware of the synergies and differences and make sure you have the right people and resources employed to help you with your social media.

The youngest and most social media savvy person on your team, may not also be the most skilled customer service practitioner. And a poorly managed complaint on social can cost your business big time.

Food for thought ...

Let's tie it all together in one "snackable" infographic

Social Media Marketing Community Management Infographic

One more thing...

You might be thinking "That's great Naomi, but why do I have to bother with social media at all? I don't have time to learn all this stuff!"

I hear you! I've been there. But think about the business world before social media came along. What did you do to drive sales before the smartphone came along and dragged your customer's eyeballs away from the newspaper, radio and TV? How did you build relationships and goodwill with your customers, "back in your day"?

You asked them how their family is going when they came into your store. You bumped into them in the street to "have a quick chat" and pass the time of day. You invested in the relationship to become a trusted and valued business who they would recommend to their friends in a heartbeat because you showed you cared. And you sold some stuff along the way.

Today, these relationship-building moments are happening on social media. And if you're not there, investing in those relationships, then your competition will be. And guess who your potential customers will think of first, next time they need the product or service you offer?

We can spend hours debating whether or not social media is a good thing. We can be annoyed that people are looking at their phones all the time and bemoan the fact that "things aren't like they used to be". But will that change anything? Not likely. If anything, social media and online communities are going to become even more important for all of us in the way we live, work and communicate.

And that's where you, a business owner in 2016 (not 1976 or even 2006), has to make a decision about whether social media marketing and community management is worthwhile for your business.

Over to you.

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