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Social Media Blogs by Aliza Sherman

Social Media Blogs by Aliza Sherman

Aliza Sherman is a news media entrepreneur, author, women's issues activist, and international speaker.
Sherman has received recognition for her role as an entrepreneur focused on women's issues, particularly women's role in the news media industry and their participation on the Internet.

Managing Online Communities in Your Social Networks

Managing Online Communities in Your Social Networks

Managing your social networks may seem like a new process. However, online communities that form as people follow you and your business on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other popular social networks are not new. People gathering together around a common interest dates back to 1980s. The only major difference between the online communities of the 1980s, 1990s and today is the technology platform where the community interacts.

Online communities are organic and ever-changing because they are made up of diverse people who have come together for a variety of reasons. They stick together because of a shared interest, such as their love of your products or their need of your services. But just liking the same thing doesn’t keep an online community together. Online communities thrive when they are well managed.

As a business owner, you can benefit from cultivating your social media followings into online communities. Some of the ways you can leverage your community include:

  1. Serving your current customers and clients in a timely manner.
  2. Leveraging your current customers for peer-to-peer customer service.
  3. Getting more immediate feedback on your products or services.
  4. Having a built-in audience who is more likely to pay attention to your posts.
  5. Identifying your Superfans who can be ambassadors for your brand.
  6. Gaining insights to your ideal customers.

Not all social networks provide cohesive platforms to manage your online communities. Facebook Pages and Groups feel the most like the messaging boards of the past where you can see not only the comments from others to you but to one another – the conversations between community members.

Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ profiles have faster moving streams where threads of comments tend to disappear quickly down the news feed. LinkedIn Groups and Google+ Communities provide more robust community-building tools.

Regardless of the social network you’re using, keep these things in mind to effectively build and manage your online community:

  1. Write out and publish community guidelines that let members know your intentions and the rules of engagement.
  2. Determine in advance – and include in your guidelines – what offenses will result in removal from your community. This part is only for the social networks where you can manage members – Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, and Google+ Communities. You can block people on some of the other networks but that doesn’t really “remove” them from your online community.
  3. Get to know the members of your community by asking questions, posting polls, or even surveying them.
  4. Initiate conversations on a regular basis with your online community.
  5. Respond to your members in a timely manner with genuine answers – not copy and paste responses.
  6. Provide value to your community members such as advanced notice of sales and promotions, special discounts, and other perks for being a part of your community.

A well-managed online community is an asset to your business. Building that community can be a job unto itself. There really is no way around participating in your community to properly manage it.

To save time, enlist others to handle the day-to-day oversight of your communities across your social networks. Your community managers can come from within your team or from within your online community or can be hired. Professional online community managers exist, either as freelancers or as part of a social media marketing service provider or interactive agency.

Read other social media blogs by Aliza Sherman

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