#SproutChat Recap: Managing Online Communities

Building, engaging and growing an online community helps businesses in the long run. Forming communities of your brand’s most tuned in and engaged fans are what ultimately help to inform products and procedures.

This week at #SproutChat we chatted with Sprout All Star, Meagan DeMenna, Community Manager of ClearVoice, about best practices for managing your online communities and the benefit they provide your brand.

Communities Come Together Around a Topic

Digital communities allow folks to gather around topics or issues they care about and connect. This can happen organically or could be a space created by a business to allow followers to congregate around their brand. Conversations and connections that happen in these online communities instill a real sense of value.

A1:Digital Community: Any community that communicates primarily (if not entirely) online #SproutChat

— Meagan DeMenna (@SocialMeagan) October 4, 2017

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A1: A digital community is a place where people can voice their opinions and converse about a common topic. #SproutChat

— Maria Marchewka (@_MariaMarchewka) October 4, 2017

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A1 Social, forums, comment sections, voice/in-game chat. The list goes on! It's where customers are in the virtual world. #SproutChat [TK]

— ModSquad (@modsquad) October 4, 2017

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A1 A digital community is like the "water cooler" of the web. Likeminded people connect to discuss topics or brands of interest. #SproutChat

— Cristy (@lacristysalinas) October 4, 2017

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A digital community is one that originates online. The power of community is when you meet IRL. I see this often in open source #SproutChat https://t.co/73w2lav7DL

— Jason Hibbets (@jhibbets) October 4, 2017

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A1: It's a place where you find your people or your tribe. #SproutChat

— Aimee Beltran (@AimeeBeltran) October 4, 2017

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Create Goals First

If you’re just starting to launch a community, think about the platform this will live on (website, forum, Slack, social) and where your community might take to. Additionally, be thoughtful of the purpose of your community. Will it be focused on technical support or advocacy? Mapping out these details ahead of time will and giving members a clearer sense of purpose to start will effectively encourage engagement.

A2: Define your goals, identify your audience and establish your guidelines #SproutChat

— Meagan DeMenna (@SocialMeagan) October 4, 2017

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A2 cont: They can live on social media, Slack, established forums… anywhere online #SproutChat

— Meagan DeMenna (@SocialMeagan) October 4, 2017

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A2: Social is a great place to start – something as simple as a hashtag can start a conversation/ bring ppl together. #sproutchat https://t.co/M1u80Jy84M

— JL Summerfield (@JLSummerfield) October 4, 2017

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A2 A good first step is identifying your loyal and vocal fans. Amplify their voices. Let them attract others. #sproutchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) October 4, 2017

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A2 Determine what features you want – analytics you need – what is the customer experience? #sproutchat

— Toby Metcalf (@Toby_Metcalf) October 4, 2017

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A2: Determine your target audience i.e. interests, hobbies, passions. https://t.co/mLpRIl6WmG

— Rachel Felice (@RFelice_Navidad) October 4, 2017

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Look for the people that are already talking about your brand/product/service. Bring them together & gain actionable feedback. #SproutChat

— Kate McGaughey (@kate_mcgaughey) October 4, 2017

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Align Community With Business Goals

When planning your community think about how this will serve the brand overall. If you’re trying to set up a support focused community think of ways this can help deter support tickets and drive down costs associated there. Goals will look different for communities across the board, but think of identifying goals that align with overall business objectives.

A3: Align your community goals with your business goals. Example: inform product, connect & collaborate, build advocacy… #SproutChat

— Meagan DeMenna (@SocialMeagan) October 4, 2017

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A3: Measure success around established goals. Know what measurements you're going to use BEFORE you launch a community #SproutChat

— Meagan DeMenna (@SocialMeagan) October 4, 2017

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A3. I think you have an atmosphere to where you allow an open discussion without fear of backlash due to opinion #sproutchat

— Cheval John (@chevd80) October 4, 2017

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A3: Whether online or offline, engagement aka conversation is the key to continuing success #SproutChat

— Cindy Stuntz (@cindy_stuntz) October 4, 2017

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A3: I would say # of interactions is big and # of solutions provided can be a leading indicator. Maybe # of irl meetups? #SproutChat

— Daniel Hachey (@daniel_hachey) October 4, 2017

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A3: Your community members should reflect it's level of success. Participation being the biggest indicator of success for most. #sproutchat

— SocialXpresso (@socialxpresso) October 4, 2017

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Content Is Fuel

When setting up new communities, it’s important to make sure that you’re planning out content with your members in mind. Conversation may already be happening organically, but scheduled content can help encourage further conversation. Small things like this can help make sure that engagement is activated. Remember to have a two way relationship with community members and interact.

A4: Share blogs, ebooks, videos – not all to do with your brand, but engaging to your members #SproutChat

— Meagan DeMenna (@SocialMeagan) October 4, 2017

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A4: Without scheduled content, your community will flounder. Always have planned content and always listen! #SproutChat

— Meagan DeMenna (@SocialMeagan) October 4, 2017

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A4: They say a picture is worth 1000 words. The most thought provoking posts are worth 1000 responses. #SproutChat

— Russ Palmer (@RussPalmer) October 4, 2017

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A4: Your content strategy should be about activating & engaging your dig. comm. in ways that traditional advertising never could #SproutChat

— Apple Box Studios (@AppleBoxStudios) October 4, 2017

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A4 Along with content, it is important for your to respond to and engage with your members #sproutchat

— Toby Metcalf (@Toby_Metcalf) October 4, 2017

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A4: Content can help create discussion and debate in your digital community. #SproutChat

— Digital Addicts (@digitaladdicts_) October 4, 2017

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A4: Content should line up with the goals you set up for the community. and should be identified before launching the community.

— John Venen (@JohnVenen) October 4, 2017

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A4: one of those "where do I start" questions! It's stories for them to share, it's potential ideas to get their feedback on, it's making them feel safe/interested to share their own stories, etc. #Sproutchat

— Kathleen Gormley (@KathGorm) October 4, 2017

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Be sure to join us at #SproutChat next Wednesday, at 2 p.m. CT, to chat with Sprout All Star Elite, Marek Cornett of Koch Communications about integrating PR and Social Media strategies. Until then, be sure to join our Facebook community to keep the conversation going.

This post #SproutChat Recap: Managing Online Communities originally appeared on Sprout Social.