A well-defined community plan can make the difference between the success and failure of your undertaking. If you follow this guideline you should find yourself well positioned to launch a successful community plan that meets defined goals and expectations.

Define the goals for the community
Community management starts with the setting of your goals. What do you want to accomplish with this specific community? What factors and results do you consider a success?

Your goals might include the following:
  • Improved brand recognition and conversation;
  • Building the following for your brand’s social profiles;
  • Building a database of email subscriber for targeting and lead generation;
  • Building an engaged and loyal audience;
  • Increasing the overall reach of your content; and/or
  • Increasing the average time spent on your site.

Define the target profile of your community

The first thing you should do is identify who your target audience is and then learn all you can about them—their demographics, search patterns, geographic distribution, likes and dislikes. The better you know your audience the better you are suited to cater their needs.

Identify influencers

Once you’ve defined your target audience and grown your community, it’s time to take a comprehensive look at your community and identify those members who hold the greatest levels of influence. Who does your community listen to, who holds sway, and who has the most followers. These identified influencers can be used to help build your community if leverage correctly.

Create social media friendly content

Content is the base upon which a community management plan is built. Communities rally around good content. Content should be optimised for maximum effect on social media.

A community management plan should include strategies & guidelines for: brand voice & tone, social media optimise content, promotional campaigns as well as applying plans across multiple platforms.

The goal is to build your brand up as a source of authority in those defined areas of brand focus, your community should look to you when seeking an authoritative source on those core areas.

Optimise content, newsletters and websites for sharing

Ensure that content is optimized for social media.

  • Place sharing buttons on post and articles;
  • Limit brand tweets to 120 characters; this allows followers to retweet them with your brand @handle;
  • Include a strong call to action in your pages, articles and tweets when appropriate; a good CTA can help drive user to your desired action;
  • Write headlines that are powerful and shareable, a well-structured headline is the first indicator your community has of the quality of your content; and
  • Ensure your content is interesting enough to share. Content that can help educate and inform your community is the most likely to add value to your community.

Standardise interactions by creating interaction guidelines

A fully developed community management plan should include guidelines for how the brand will communicate and interacting with its community. The details of these guidelines should align with the overall community goals and style guide.

The plan may be driven by your social media guidelines, but community managers should standardise their own practices, for consistency and future reference.

Guidelines might include; how to structure a post, how to respond to complaints, how to respond to @replies, and what kind of things to retweet.

Monitor your community, then seek to improve

Listening is an integral part of community management. You should plan to tap into the collective consciousness of your community; leverage this knowledge for greater brand, marketing, customer and product insights. Tools like amaSocial are specifically designed serve this purpose.

Measurement is essential to any community management plan. Track what works best, then try replicate those results consistently. Without the monitoring and analytics of social media, optimisation strategies are undertaken in the dark.

For more information on amaSocial, visit amasocial.co.za. Alternatively, connect with them on Facebook or on Twitter.