🐚 The Salty Shell: How to Build a Thriving Community

Published 5 months ago • 4 min read

The Salty Shell

November 8, 2023

Welcome to The Salty Shell: your dive into candid social currents and navigating success. Was this forwarded to you? Anchor your spot here to sail with me every week.

Navigate Connections, Not Just Conversations

🧂 Salty Insights

Why does ‘community’ matter? It’s more than a trendy term - it’s your direct connection to consumers, vital for brand survival. Communities exist before marketing. Marketing recognizes and harnesses the power of these pre-existing networks.

Being a community manager is more than managing online spaces, it’s about bearing the emotional load of personal attacks and managing conflicts with grace (it can be really hard sometimes).

Community managers’ expertise is indispensable in cultivating trust, loyalty, and ultimately driving brand success through thoughtful responses.

A community manager’s job is never done. They should be included in paid and organic social media strategies, marketing and sales meetings, work cross-functionally with customer service, and help inform future business decisions because they are always up to date with your consumers.

Community managers:

  • Build, maintain, and grow relationships
  • Create value for those who participate
  • Liase between the company and community
  • First customer service touchpoint
  • Spokesperson to and for the community

Think of your community as a restaurant. You’re the big wig in the office, but the server and cashier are on the front lines – directly engaging with and getting feedback from customers. Your community manager is your social server.

What I don’t get is why, in the last few years, “community” and “community building” and engaging on social media became this revelation. It’s not new. I’ve been doing this since social for business became a thing. No matter what, your content and engagement should always be targeted toward your customer first, not what the random board member thinks.

Since day 1 (in 2010), I spent my time building, getting to know, and engaging with Rubio’s Facebook and Twitter communities. We held tweet-ups, secret test kitchen meetings, product testing, and so much more. PS - your community LOVES behind-the-scenes content, preferably raw.

4 Important Aspects of Community Management

  • Proactive engagement: initiate conversations and build relationships with the community before they reach out with issues or feedback.
  • Reactive support: this is the responsive aspect where you address questions, concerns, and feedback that come directly from the community. Responses should be timely, helpful, and ensure every member feels heard and supported.
  • Quality > quantity: you should measure your community by quality, not quantity. Your community is your volunteer marketing force.

The ROI is more than metrics: engagement goes beyond analytics, it turns into word of mouth, sales, and advocacy.

⚓️ Anchor Your Success: Building a Foundation


A deep look into who your community members are and where they spend their time is essential. Identify demographics, psychographics, online behavior, sub-cultures and what’s important to them. This should be a part of the overall social media strategy.


Each social platform has a unique culture and audience expectations. For example, LinkedIn thrives on professional development, while Instagram’s audience seeks more visual content. For one of my clients, their Instagram had a Millennial audience, while Facebook was Gen X and above. Different content for different people.


Beyond proactive daily engagement, seek and create opportunities to feature community members in your content, especially if you can recognize (bonus: pay) them as influencers and content creators.

Being able to surprise and delight is one of my favorite things, and it rarely costs the company much. From personalized gifts or shouts out to experiences with the brand, you can turn ordinary interactions into memorable experiences.


Much of community engagement is qualitative. Side note - this is why I will not bill hourly for community management - a good community manager is responding in realtime. Anyway, keep an intuitive track of sentiment, member feedback, and the tone of conversations. These insights, along with traditional metrics, should be included in monthly reports and status calls.

🌊 Brain Waves

Homework time.

What core values and interests shape your audience?

While auditing a guacamole client, I found an entire Weight Watchers sub-culture the brand wasn’t aware of. This was a crucial part of shaping the overall social media strategy.

In what ways can you celebrate and spotlight your community members?

A pork client had a vibrant community, partially because of the brand’s local involvement, plus, it was delicious. From featuring our home cooks in our content to hiring some of them to create content, they were the heart and soul of the brand and my strategy. My favorite was uncovering a super fan on Twitter, building a really engaging and fun relationship and inviting them to HQ to shoot the hot dog launcher. All because he was cool, engaging and a big fan! I love moments like that and I hope you’re able to provide them.

How can you leverage community feedback to refine your brand’s messaging and product offerings?

Your community can be an operational insights gold mine. I had a movie theater client for 4 years and saw major transformations internally and externally solely based on the community and reputation management and reporting I provided. From bed bugs to employee performance, consumers take to social with their complaints and praises, but how is anyone going to know without a community manager?

Next week – holidays + hashtag holidays 🫣

Straight from the shore,

🦈 Chelsea

Let's Connect - Seriously.

My personal and professional success and happiness depend on you–my community.

First Person

Mad Rabbit


113 Cherry St #92768, Seattle, WA 98104-2205
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Your weekly practical advice, insights and strategic guide to social media, community management, marketing and freelancing. Created from 16 years of social media strategizing and community building. My approach is simple: lead authentically, solve problems, connect, and make a difference.

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