Community management: 9 steps of building a community around your brand

In this article, Natalia Serebrennikova, community manager at Topface Media, shares instructions on how to create a brand community. Many businesses have questions around how to create a community, where to begin, what to undertake, and so on. We share our experience.
1. What, who, where, when?
First, you need to find out who is already talking about your product or company brand and what platforms they use.

If a user group is already discussing your product you need to join this group and take part in the discussion on behalf of the brand. This is important, even if you weren’t intending to build a community on this social network.
How to do it?
Locate these groups and conversations using queries in search engines like Google. Just type "brand name + reviews" into the search.

You may also use purpose-built monitoring systems such as Brandwatch, Linkfluence, and others.

Monitoring systems are more effective, since they provide more information: popular discussion platforms, gender, age of authors, and tone of mentions.
2. Where can you get subscribers?
To understand where the people who write about your brand (or competitors) spend their time online, search for mentions in monitoring systems. Search on topics similar to yours to find those users who don’t know about your brand or product yet, but theoretically will be interested. With proper work, this audience can become yours.

If these users spend time on social networks, create an official group for your brand, follow these people, and start attracting them to the community. Actively engage with them! This is the only way to form a nucleus of loyal advocates. In the future, they will form a core of reliable "champions" of the brand: they will protect you in comments, create positive user generated content (UGC), and attract new users.
“Chances are you want to build a huge community in a short time frame. Let's say right away—this process is not fast, so factor building time into your community strategy. First, you need to lay the foundation for the development of the community, get to know all the subscribers, and understand their “pains” and needs. This can take from several months to a year or two. It all depends on your activity and budget."
photo of Natalia Serebrennikova — community manager at Topface Media
Natalia Serebrennikova
community manager at Topface Media
3. Use all your connections
When first creating your community, involve all your friends and acquaintances. Just tell them what you want to do in the community and ask them to join the group. This will help you get your first subscribers, and your group won't look empty. Emptiness scares off newbies, see social proof theory.

Another option is to attract users to the community through webinars or conferences. For example, make joining a group a prerequisite for participation.

If you want users to talk spontaneously about your brand, create the conditions for that. For example, add embedded social media buttons to your website.

In addition to the "Share" and "Tell" buttons on the site, you can add the ability to subscribe to your mailing list. Set up your registration process to ask new users to subscribe to you or add information on Odnoklassniki.
4. Focus on quality, not quantity
You should always remember that the quality of subscribers is more important for the community, not their number. A group of 50,000 members promoted via ads or bots with 1 like on each post is not a community. It's a wasted ad budget.

It’s more important to have a few genuine subscribers who will be interested in your brand and create unique UGC. These users inspire more trust in other people: According to a Nielsen study, 77% of consumers trust the recommendations of friends, 62% trust brand reviews on the Internet, and only 30% trust ads on social media networks.

The goal of community management should be to build a group of supporters who will help spread the word about your brand, rather than gaining a million subscribers who mute your group and don’t participate.
5. Take your time

Each community goes through an initial phase of silence. Users are reluctant to enter into discussions or do not communicate at all. Here, you need to be patient and keep working. What does the community manager do in this case? Simply put, they must act as a community leader: generating content, engaging users in a conversation, etc. Gradually, as the community grows, the most active participant will become the leader (or leaders).

Don’t give up if the number of subscribers is not growing as fast as you wanted.
6. Support is not just important, but critical
Just seeing your first 100 subscribers to a newly created social media group doesn’t mean you’ve built a community. The most important factor in a community is communication. This communication should come from the brand and between group subscribers.

It is necessary to find or create a platform where users can freely communicate with each other. If the group focused on your brand began on Medium, don’t drag those users. They won’t be comfortable there, and you have no guarantee that all participants will switch.

Make sure people within the community are interested in communicating. This elevates your subscribers from a group of random users who once joined a group to loyal followers and brand advocates.
7. Don't be afraid to experiment
Do you know why a small community is better than a large one? It allows you to try new things without a lot of risk, since the rates are low.

For example, you can create a secret mailing series: brand bonus emails that are only sent to community members. Or create a private chat “for your friends” so the user feels important and connected with the brand.
8. Be more original
If you are asked to name a few brands you have interacted with online, who comes to mind first? Why? Most likely, these brands have their own characteristic style and communication tactics that made an impression.

Look at examples of community management from other brands and think about how your brand's voice will sound.

Humanization helps here (depicting an object or animal in the form of a person is an example of humanization). Imagine if your brand were human: what would it look like, what character would it have, and how would it speak? Can they send memes in response to messages, or do they always respond formally even to detractors?

Make a portrait of this person (down to clothing style and hobbies). Start with these questions:

  • What do they look like?
  • What character traits do they have?
  • What are their habits?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What are they interested in?
  • What are their values: what can they accept, and what do they categorically reject?
  • How do they spend their free time?
  • What is their social circle?
  • How do they speak with different people (what tone, how fast, what words do they use, etc.)?
9. Don't forget monitoring and analytics
Set the goals and KPIs you want to achieve. Keep track of statistics and compare them with these goals. Analyze which actions bring results and put more effort in these areas.

To assess the effectiveness of the community, you can focus on:

1. Participant activity and retention:
  • Offline activity;
  • Online activity;
  • Email newsletter opens;
  • Website traffic;
  • Number of active volunteers.

2. Growth in the number of participants (at the beginning of the period or month and at the end).

3. Participation experience:
  • Trust level;
  • Number of participants at offline events;
  • Responsiveness: how quickly participants answer questions from other participants;
  • Generosity of support: how often members are willing to help or advise each other;
  • Holidays: birthdays of members and other important events;
  • General closeness: the expression of positive emotions in correspondence and communication.

Contact Topface Media for Community Management

By clicking any buttons or making a request on the website you grant your consent for processing of your personal data in accordance with Federal Law On personal data No. 152-FZ from 27.07.2006.
Not a public offer.
An active community attracts new users. In the course of communication, users themselves naturally maintain interest in the brand and provide a stream of real feedback and reviews. With their help, you can understand how to improve the product and reduce the “pain points” of your customers.

At the very beginning, every comment and repost will seem like a victory to you. That being said, if you do everything right and listen to the community, your support group will grow.

Show more
Error get alias