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Online Community Manager: How to Be a Brand Evangelist

Brands hire online community managers for two main reasons: to learn as much about the community as possible and to promote the brand in a positive way and get folks talking about their product.

Though they’re very interested in gauging the needs of the community, the brand is more interested in promoting whatever it is they’re looking to promote. Though the community manager isn’t a salesperson, he’s expected to drive sales, create buzz, and create overall interest in the product without really selling.

Mostly, though, he’s to show the brand in the best light possible and present a human element that may have been missing before.

Here are some ways that you can successfully promote your brand:

  • Provide news. Community management tools such as blogs, the company forum, Facebook, and even Twitter help spread the word about the inner workings of the community, new product information, changes in personnel, and other company-related business.

  • Promote products. Use your channels to introduce products to the community without being spammy or pitchy. Create contests, offer discounts, and use the many social-media tools available to make promotions fun events rather than boring business promotions. When you involve the community, they also act as brand evangelists and get some good buzz going.

  • Deter negativity. On your daily patrols of the social networks, take note of what people are saying about the company and do what you can to handle both positive and negative situations.

    Any time anyone portrays your brand in a negative light, ask to take it private. Then get to the bottom of the matter and see to it that this person’s situation is rectified either by you or the person on the team who is best equipped to help.

  • Drink the Kool-Aid. You know what’s kind of lame? Community managers who tout a brand but don’t use it or believe in it. So they go on and on spouting prewritten niceties about something they don’t even use, and it sounds canned and false.

    To advocate for a brand, community managers have to believe in what they do. They have to use the product, take part in the service, read the blog, and enjoy it all. People detect insincerity, and most know when they’re being misled.

    If you want folks to trust you and the brand, you have to show them you’re one of them, which means you have to believe in what your company does before you can begin to promote it.

  • Respond positively. Even in negative situations, community managers are to answer honestly and positively. You may have to check with your team before responding to comments that might shed an unfavorable light on your company. It’s always best to respond, however, especially if a situation has gone public.

  • Provide blogger outreach. Bloggers are your friends. They can make or break a brand, but they’re also important community advocates. Taking the time to research the blogs that fit best with your brand is essential because nothing turns a brand campaign into a laughingstock like a community manager who didn’t take the time to research the blogger.

    Avoid canned form letters and make sure that something is in it for the blogger. Reaching out to bloggers and asking them to write about you, without providing any benefit to the blogger, will put you in the bad graces of the entire blogging community, as word travels very fast.

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