Community management is very closely related to social media management, and in essence is about building relationships and taking hold of opportunities for the business or brand to interact effectively with the general public, mainly through online platforms. The community is each and every one out there who has some form of interaction with your brand and business, whether they are existing customers, potential customers, or anyone who is showing an interest. Community management should be a valuable part of the corporate communication services provided by the PR agency or professional you have partnered with to assist your business.
What are the benefits you can gain through effective community management?
- Effectively manage customer complaints.
- Convert customers into a loyal fanbase.
- Convert prospective customers.
- Win influencers to your brand.
- Partner and network with other businesses and brands.
- Get actual feedback on your products.
- Be an authority in your industry.
Community management handles all small-scale tasks such as relying to complaints and comments made by customers and those interested in the brand, but is capable of making a big impact to the credibility and reputation of the business in the community. One thing to remember is that community doesn’t necessarily mean just your local area, but the entire community as a whole.
So, what is the difference between community management and public relations in Sri Lanka? Well, in reality community management comes under PR, because it is the smaller tasks connected to public relations that are included in community management, and both together help the business and brand to achieve their goals in terms of reputation, credibility and trust among the general public.
Community management under PR activities, can be broken down into 4 specific sections, namely:
- Monitoring – Keeping a track of conversations and mentions of your brand or business. This is also known as social listening. Some of the comments and feedback that customers give your brand will not be directly to you, but they will certainly voice their opinions on social media, in forums and blogs and the like, and it is part of good agency handling public relations in Sri Lanka to keep a track of all these mentions, however hard they may be to find at times, to effectively stop crisis situations that could whirlwind out of control if not resolved quickly.
- Engaging – Constantly engaging with customers, influencers, media and other interested parties on online platforms. Keeping your engagement alive is one of the best ways to gain visibility and credibility for your brand, whether you are responding to positive or negative comments, the more you engage with customers and other interested parties, the more the brand will be perceived as being a caring and concerned business that values its stakeholders. Of course, there are added benefits to getting some powerful influencers on your side too, which is why social engagement is so important for a business.
- Moderating – Resolving customer complaints and issues, and sorting through comments and conversation that don’t really add any value. This involves resolving issues and complaints in a timely manner as well as weeding out spam from your comments and conversations which bring down the value of your conversations. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should remove or hide all negative and sensitive comments since this will deter your followers as they will get a wrong perception of the business, and will pave the way for even more negative feedback and publicity. We won’t say that it is an easy task, but it is something that definitely needs to be done if you want to keep high quality conversations going on your online platforms.
- Analysing – Measuring the perceptions that the general public has regarding the brand through actual feedback and reviews. This is also a very difficult task because brand mentions can happen all over the online world, and it is not easy keeping track of all these. However, the best way to start is by identifying those platforms where your customers and interested parties are most active.
Finally, it is a very difficult question to answer whether there is a huge difference between community management and public relations in Sri Lanka, but the answer here according to many professionals in the industry is that the former is more of a finer breaking down of the tasks of the latter, and without both these strategies, you can’t achieve your goals and business growth. After all, perceptions are everything, and this is what PR aims at improving.