Community Management: Quit Herding Cats

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If media relations is an arm of public relations, community management is another. Publicity and press coverage are great, essential even, but it does little good without loyal, engaged followers to share the news.

A community grows your reach and influence. Consumers don’t listen to brands; they listen to their friends and families. If those people like you and what you have to say, the community and loyalty grows.

But how do you manage that community? Where is it found? And, perhaps most important of all, how do you keep it happy, growing and interested long-term?

Have no fears. These five tips hold the answers:

Want to learn more about community management and its role in PR? View Cision’s PR Starter Kit today.

1. Quit herding cats.

You may love Snapchat or Periscope or Blab. You may even have the most beautiful campaigns and strategies laid out for them. Stop. Ask yourself one, simple question: “Is my target audience on these channels?” If they are, launch your campaigns.

If they aren’t, don’t move forward. Getting an audience to adopt a new network is like herding cats. It’s frustrating and a waste of time. Find out where your audience is present. Engage with them there. Why herd cats when they’re already corralled someplace else?

2. Give your “cats” what they want.


My cat loves cat treats, so much so that she practically refuses to eat regular food. My solution? I could quit giving her treats and watch her dwindle away to nothing. (It’s possible. She’s a tiny thing.) Or I could give her treats. I may be spoiling her, but it’s what she wants.

The same principle applies to audiences. They have their tastes and are more than happy to let you know about them. Tap into them and deliver the content they want, when they want it.

3. Set audience expectations.

Let’s say you have a weekly podcast. It’s live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. EST and available on iTunes and Stitcher by that evening at the latest. Because you’re a PR pro, you promote the show and ask for subscriptions.

That’s the basics of setting audience expectations. If you promise content, even if it’s a simple #ThrowbackThursday post on Instagram, you must deliver it. It’s what keeps audiences loyal and coming back for more.

4. Reward desired behaviors.


You should also create expectations for online behavior. You don’t need an official code of conduct, although it can be helpful to have an internal one, if only for guidelines and crisis communications responses.

The idea here is to set a tone. What behavior is acceptable and what isn’t? Reward the behaviors you want to see. Mention people on Twitter. Thank them during your next Meerkat. If you do that, they’ll rise to your defense whenever any trolls appear.

5. Be ready to move.

You know how cats love their boxes. However, they constantly change boxes or choose a different sunny-spot to sprawl in throughout the day.

Audiences are the same way when it comes to social. They may like Twitter today, but they could shift to Periscope tomorrow. Be ready for the change. Stay vigilant to not only what your audience is saying but also where they’re saying it. If you do that, you’ll be able to plan strategies and campaigns that let you easily move from one social channel to another.



Images: Sara Golemon, Scott Granneman, Nicola Romagna (Creative Commons)

About Erin Feldman

Erin Feldman is the director of editorial services at Tenacity5 Media. When she isn’t researching, writing, and editing blog posts and white papers, she writes poetry and essays, draws her favorite Write Right character, and plans what art form to study next. She’s based in Austin, Texas and can be found on Twitter @erinmfeldman.

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