It’s essential for recruitment companies to have a voice and to really engage their followers.

We spoke to Christie Fidura of The Perfect Circle to discuss why brands need community management, some common mistakes made by businesses and much more!

Listen to the interview on Soundcloud, iTunes or keep reading for a transcript of our conversation.

Why brands need community managers:

Well, there are several reasons that an organisation might want a community. It’s a big responsibility. It’s like getting married. You don’t enter into this relationship lightly because it’s extremely difficult to extract yourself from a community once you’ve built it. So I think that there’s some good strategic decisions and initiatives that need to be laid out and decided upon before entering into the relationship. But specifically, my belief is that, there are a few reasons to want to have a community, and on a very high level ranking, it’s my personal belief that any company that sells anything should want to have a community.

The perfect circle of community management:

It’s my belief that…and the reason that I called my company The Perfect Circle is that I believe you have to give in order to get. It is a 50% and a 50%, something has to come from each side. Again, going back to that marriage analogy. So if you give, so that you’re building advocates, the advocates, the engagement that you undertake, the advocates are actually creating loyalty. So by the very action of you engaging with these advocates, you’re creating your own loyalty. And that is, in fact, what I believe the perfect circle is all about.

But specifically entering into community management is not just something you do on a lark, obviously. You have to have a strategy behind what you’re trying to achieve and what you’re trying to do. You have to build in a lot of different types of ideas, and the graphic that you’re referring to just talks about some of those specific things that need to be considered before undertaking such a relationship and such a commitment. So for example, what is the strategy for this group that you’re creating? What kind of data are you going to be tracking? How are you going to maintain growth?

And then we move and we have to think about relationship development. So how are we going to develop the relationship further? What kind of content are we going to provide them with?

It has to go across the entire organisation. And so that’s the things that I think about and I talk about with my clients is before we undertake this idea to create a strategy for what your community should be doing for you, you need to think about all these other things. Because something forgotten here will be very difficult to implement later.

The benefits of an engaged community:

I think if you start listening and seeding the relationship, hearing what your customers are really saying and what they really care about, figuring out where they’re located, even thinking to yourself that every mention socially can be an opportunity for further engagement. It’s going to allow you to uncover key trends and topics, and if you do that, then you’re actually ready to start engaging that person to retain the relationship, to build a fan out of that relationship. And so, the way that you do that is by sharing content. Right? So that’s going to be retaining and sustaining the relationship because high touch can, in my cases, equal a high reward.

So being a good community member with frequent communication means that these individuals are starting to get more and more loyal to your brand. You can then continue that process by then building advocacy. So now is the time when you’re ready to start deepening that relationship and really turning your power users into your ambassadors.

Common pitfalls to avoid:

There’s a lot of potentially dangerous situations out there. So I think that before I go into any, I’ll just go back quickly to that idea of that general concept of transparency. You can really piss off a lot of people accidentally, but if you just come clean about it and apologise, people love that. And there’s so many social media horror stories out in the marketplace today. You could Google and get 25 billion of them, right? Social media disasters. They’re not nice things, and in most of those cases, if the company had just come forward and said, “God, we really screwed up here, and we’re sorry,” it would go a long way. But they don’t want to do that.

So my number one objective with the community always is transparency. I don’t know if you’re a West Wing fan, but CJ always said, the press person on West Wing always said, “I can’t lie effectively if you guys don’t tell me the whole truth.” Right? And so, I do think that there’s a lot to be said for that because you as the community manager are the pinch person, you are the liaison between the organisation and the community. And you have to be able to, maybe not lie, but you have to be able to translate information from both sides of the party to the other side of the party in an effective and meaningful way.

Also, don’t put yourself out there and welcome comments, welcome feedback, and try and get people to come in unless you’re able to hear what they have to say because you’ve defined what you want to be hearing from them, and you have an infrastructure in place to actually make changes and modifications to the overall system, and also feedback to those people, and say, “You know what? You guys gave us a great feedback last week and we’ve implemented this change because of that.” Okay, that is a great way to start getting people really engaged with your brand and listening to you. Don’t ask for a favour until you give a favour. So that’s just common sense.

That’s something we all learn when we’re about eight years old. And a lot of community management is just thinking back to what you’ve learned when you were eight years old, how to engage people, how to get along with them. But don’t ask for somebody to do something until you’ve done something for them. Right?

How do you know what content you should be sharing into your community?

Well, any good community manager will tell you that actually you don’t share content into that community. What you’re hoping to achieve is to pull content out of the community to create that Holy Grail of user generated content, and I’ve just spent a week at Social Media Week London where they all referred to it with this hip acronym of UGC, and most of them said they had no idea how to get UGC. Right? So you have really big viral campaigns like the Share a Coke campaign. That was a fantastically successful campaign. I’m sure that you might have heard of it, or in fact, the Ice Bucket Challenge. So that had like 1.2 million Facebook videos that people were creating and putting up. But those are humongous, humongous campaigns.

So the community can give you that. And the way you might want to ask them is ask them first, “Hey, everybody, we’re going live with this idea next week, this really great campaign. What do you think about it?” But mostly, the way that you’re going to get this user generated content is with good moderation and by paying attention in your customer forums and your community forums or the things that your community leaders are saying. So if, like I said, one of them says, “Oh, I published a book last week.” That’s wonderful. Well done to you. Congratulations. Can you maybe point to an article that you’ve written about your book or maybe has an article been written about your book that we can share with other community members, people who love you best, people who are supporting you most?

But specifically the content, in order to generate those ideas, that moderation is key. You’ve got to be listening to those ideas, those little nuggets, getting that feedback from your community members. Maybe giving them briefings and asking them for this type of content. Most importantly, learning how to tell a good story. You’ve got to seek out great stories and know how to tell them. There’s lots of great stuff out there in the world today about content marketing, and learning how to tell a good story, and the art of storytelling.

The future of community management:

I think there’s a really big push for content marketing now. Everybody’s talking about this. And it’s so funny because way back in 1992, when I was a technical writer, everybody was saying the following, “Content is king,” and so nothing really happened with that. And then we had the rise of content management systems, and that specifically was based on the Internet, and people suddenly had to have websites, and how are you going to track that content, and who’s in charge of it, and da da da? So it’s interesting that we’ve just never left this concept of content is king. It’s just taken a different shape now. So now we’re talking about the importance of content marketing, and so really, being able to pull and push content in and content out from members to fans, to advocates, to prospects, to audiences, all these different kinds of touch points, multiple channel distribution but still one document, right?


And then I think that, I’m hoping that you’re going to see communities being more strategically generated and bought into across the internal stakeholders. I really hope that…right now, I think community lives in a vacuum, but I hope that organisations become more and more aware of the potential greatness that’s out there if they just start embracing community from all across the organisation.

Follow Christie on Twitter @CFiduraUK, check out the #cmgrldn hashtag and visit the Perfect Circle blog[Image Credit: Shutterstock] Subscribe to Social Media Know-How:

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About Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO at Link Humans, a social and digital marketing agency.

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