The Power of Proactive Engagement

Published 3 months ago • 5 min read

I didn’t anticipate how impactful the community management section of last week’s issue would be. Based on the replies I received and what I've noticed while scrolling for years, most brands and people aren’t doing this or are unaware of what community management takes, so here we are!

Community management goes beyond the surface-level approaches of liking and replying to comments. To truly build your community, brand, reach, and awareness, you need to do proactive and reactive community management.

I’ve always been a natural community manager because I always anticipate questions before someone asks and make sure the content addresses that, or the community manager has the answer readily available. Beyond anticipating questions, approach community like a human. It sounds simple, but think about how you would want a brand to respond to you or initiate a conversation with you. I will get into examples, but first, let’s cover the basics:

WHAT IS A COMMUNITY MANAGER?

A community manager engages audiences across platforms to increase brand awareness and loyalty and to grow an authentic community. They focus on one-on-one or one-to-few interactions. They have to be prepared to answer difficult questions, provide customer service, prioritize proactive engagement, reward superfans, and give feedback to internal teams.

PROACTIVE ENGAGEMENT

You are actively seeking out conversations with your community, target audience, and similar accounts. It’s about being visible and being authentically involved in relevant discussions.

You can significantly grow a community by fostering new relationships and encouraging others to engage with your content through:

Anticipation: predicting and addressing potential questions and needs. Community managers play a proactive role in content creation, campaign strategies, and reporting to ensure that content and communication preemptively address any questions or concerns that may arise.

Initiation: proactively participating in discussions relevant to the brand, products, or industry, as well as engaging with community members, advocates, and influencers. Example: a snack brand could seamlessly join conversations by commenting on an influential mom’s post about the bento box she made for her kid’s lunch. This approach allows for natural interaction and connection with a possible customer or partner and visibility to a broader audience.

Contribution: meaningfully engaging in relevant trending topics and discussions while maintaining your brand’s voice and values. Authenticity is key here, ensuring you resonate with your audience and the broader potential audience.

On a daily basis, engaging with who you follow, looking for people to follow and engage with in your industry or a complimentary industry/product. You should be scrolling, commenting, saving, DMing, just as you do on your personal. I don’t understand where the disconnect is on this one for brands.

EASY OPPORTUNITY ≠ RIGHT OPPORTUNITY

Engaging with your competitor’s fans and followers seems like low-hanging fruit, but it’s a counterproductive tactic.

If you have been eating Cadbury Mini Eggs every spring as long as you can remember (and all day every day for the last two weeks and while you’re typing this newsletter) and you see Hershey come out with “candy coated eggs,” you will probably have the same reaction I did. 🤔🙄 Nope, I'm not even going to try them; I already have the perfect chocolate eggs.

If Hershey started engaging with my mini egg binge-eating content and trying to convert me, it wouldn’t do anything for me. I would think they look desperate and that they’re trying to poach.

Hatfield and Smithfield sell pork products and are in direct competition, yet we were never worried about each other. A quick social analysis will show you they have very different and loyal audiences, and THAT’S FINE! Loyal fans are quick to defend their brand and call out the competitors or imposters ridiculous behavior – you don’t want that kind of attention. You do not want to start a brand war.

This is not to say, “Don’t engage with people who are very interested in that category or industry,” and maybe you can convert them, but if you see a die-hard fan, it’s not worth your time trying to convert them to your side.

Your comments, messages, and engagements should be authentic and mindful, staying true to your brand and not looking desperate or fake.

REACTIVE ENGAGEMENT

Responding to comments and messages as they happen, showing your community you’re listening and value their input.

Monitoring: actively listening to conversations and discussions across platforms, staying in tune with community sentiment and emerging topics.

Responding: addressing comments and messages promptly as they happen and providing support. This shows you actively listen, value their input, and are a trusted resource. Collecting and analyzing feedback from the community helps inform customer service, marketing, product or service improvements, and business decisions.

DON’T BE LAME

It’s easy to reply “thanks,” “looking forward to it,” “so excited” “list any 3 emojis here,” but is it necessary or impactful? Will a frivolous reply to fans who took the time to comment or send a message to excite them? It will probably disappoint them.

I posted about a product I recently discovered that has really been helping me. Days later (🙄), they replied “👏👏👏” Ew. Instead, they could’ve asked what my favorite flavor was, or said they’re so glad their product helped me, or shit, thrown in some of their brand personality and let me know how cool they are or literally anything to make me feel like THAT BRAND replied.

I think less of them after they commented than I did before they commented. They have vibrant branding and packaging, what seems like a fun brand voice, the copywriting and ads are great, but I took time to create content, rave about a product and in return, I got the standard 3 emoji response. Here’s the thing – advocates, people who genuinely love and naturally talk about your product, aren’t creating to get your attention, but if they get your attention (because you’re a good community manager) you should thank them or put an ounce of effort into it. And what happens when a consumer is surprised or delighted by your actions? More word of mouth (free marketing).

Effective community management involves both proactive initiatives like initiating conversations and anticipating customer needs, and reactive responses like addressing inquiries and resolving issues promptly. These work together to enhance brand reputation, foster community loyalty, drive business growth, and provide the business internally with feedback, recommendations, and valuable consumer insight.

Community management is a job. Sometimes it may fall under the duties of the social media manager, but ideally, for everyone’s benefit, it’s a separate position. Community management shouldn’t feel like a chore; it takes a certain type of person to build and engage the people on the internet, and it comes naturally and is enjoyable for many.

Learn more about community from previous issues: How to Build a Thriving Community 🐚 How to Master Your Audience 🐚 A Transformational Approach to Community

Chelsea

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