Social media is doing fine in its silo for now because we have to focus. We have to hone practices and refine standards. Going forward, however, we will need to think bigger. ~David Armano
*Wild applause from me (Kristy)*
On October 26th David Armano, SVP of Edelman Digital, came through Seattle and took the time to come speak to our wonderful community. What follows are just some of the evening’s highlights.
David’s presentation focused on the importance of human-to-human interaction, which we so readily refer to as ‘engagement.’ We get to interact with our customers. They are no longer passive. The overlap that occurs throughout all different types of media is a sweet spot of opportunity.
Community management is not a new field of work. Think back to message boards and forums, or any digital properties that you inhabit and do not own. David asked us to think of those as ‘embassies.’ Your home away from home, if you will. When working with clients or organizations, it is important to spend time figuring out where it makes sense to set up and staff a digital embassy.
You’ll need to properly staff your embassy with a qualified ambassador. Your ambassador is responsible for the rules and regulations of the embassy they’re in, while representing the brand with a human voice and in an appropriate manner.
Sometimes your organization needs a presence on a property that is not owned or controlled by the brand. David called these ‘outposts.’ It makes sense to have an employee, agent, or member of the public (brand advocate) dispatched to these places to represent the company.
David pointed out that, in his experience, he has seen smaller companies and startups “getting” this community management/envoy engagement better than big brands. Perhaps big brands should be taking a look at these smaller successes for lessons.
Regardless of where your brand chooses to interact, you’ll always want to add value.
Five Cs Which Deliver ‘Lifetime Value’
- Content: A way to start community and engage it.
- Context: Really understanding what your community wants and how they want to engage you.
- Connectivity: The value you provide by connecting people to one another.
- Continuity: The value provided by sustaining efforts over time, ensuring that the community is healthy.
- Collaboration: An opportunity to tap your customers, getting them to work with and for you.
David also outlined some steps to ensure you’re setting yourself up for success in all of these areas.
Step One: Assess Community Needs and Interests
The term ‘listening’ oversimplifies this step, but “what you really need to do is read between the lines and derive insight.” Insights should be coming from people AND data. These insights will inform the way you engage with your community.
Step Two: Develop Rules of Engagement
You need to establish rules of engagement and set up multiple scenarios. Outline these scenarios and their outcomes. Policies and how you engage with your community are different. “It’s like the art of war.”
Step Three: Identify the Right Managers for Your Community
Some people are more inclined than others to thrive in this type of role. Remember you can train certain things. Find the right people that have the potential. Teach them to act as ambassadors, and eventually help them become full community managers.
Step Four: Establish Internal and External Process
Things happen behind and in front of the scenes. Listen, assess, and engage, but also keep process in mind for things like content. You need to have tools and processes in place to manage all of your digital embassies.
Step Five: Train, Equip and Deploy
After they’ve been trained, your ambassadors should be articulate, social, professional, enthusiastic, well-connected, and organized.
Once you have worked through these steps, you’ll be well on your way to building a dynamic, connected, and engaged community.
Kristy Bolsinger works as a Social Media Marketing Strategist for RealNetworks concentrating on the GameHouse.com brand. Her role there involves business strategy, social media monitoring, customer engagement & service, outreach, education and organic search engine optimization. During her “free” time she does SEO and Social Media consulting, writes a weekly column for SocialFresh.com and guest posts on SearchEnginePeople.com. She sits on the board for Seattle Social Media Breakfast and runs the Seattle chapter of Beer and Blog. Prior to her life in Seattle, she was a broke and tired graduate student completing her MBA.