From answering queries to becoming brand ambassadors, the job of community managers has evolved into a leading role that balances the audience’s expectations with the brand’s needs. While often underestimated and under-researched, community managers are at the heart of our digital communications—injecting brands with a dose of closeness and authenticity that has become necessary in recent times.
For the new generation of consumers, a brand that keeps its distance on social media is not a memorable one. Quite the opposite. Audiences today have come to expect a degree of relatability—and above all, a real understanding of their interests and necessities. It’s not about keeping up with the top 10 TikTok trends; rather, about thinking and creating like consumers.
Marketers who have a solid grasp of this are expanding their businesses and promoting their brand just as with word of mouth. But they are not doing it alone. Community managers are one of the main players in the game of hooking consumers—even if their role is often simplified and associated with junior professionals who are just starting their careers. As consumer behavior continues to evolve, we need a new approach to community management that understands its importance and allows us to harness its true power. Here’s what that looks like.
AI and automation meet an increased focus on being human.
As previously mentioned, consumers are more likely to engage with brands that demonstrate some sense of humanity. And if they are not afraid to show an actual human behind the screen, all the merrier. Community managers today are spending less time solving problems and more time sharing their own opinions, experiences and emotions—acting more as entertainers and relatable friends than customer service agents.
If we think about the spaces where consumers connect with brands, these are mostly global digital platforms with a demand for always-on interaction. One of the ways that world-class brands deal with this expectation is by hiring community managers in a bunch of different time zones so that they are manually working round the clock to serve them. However, by incorporating automation tools—such as social bots or other applications of AI—you can also offer on-demand attention and instant solutions so that the users feel supported 24/7 while CMs focus on being creative.
In other words, these tools manage all the liking, retweeting and answering of repetitive queries so that community managers can better direct their energy toward inspiring real connections with people.
On top of that, you can have fun with it. Working with the television series Atlanta, for example, we created their own custom AI bot to take over the show’s official Twitter account for a week. In a joint effort between Jam3, Cashmere and Media.Monks’ teams, we trained it on every tweet from the Atlanta handle. Then, we used Twitter’s new edit function to tease out a takeover that had communities on Reddit and Discord following along.
Web3 fosters a spirit of participation.
Many factors have pushed community managers to expand their roles, and as long as new platforms keep emerging, they’ll continue to adapt and evolve. With its values of collaboration, decentralization and power-to-the-user, Web3 is already changing the way we engage with communities, switching the focus from “talking to” to “participating with.” In that landscape, community managers will need to be quick on their feet and feel prepared to appropriately engage with consumers—whether that means communicating through a virtual avatar or even hosting an auction of NFT artwork.
What’s more, commerce is going live—prompting brands to blend communities and real-time connection to offer entertaining interactive experiences. While influencers or digital creators are typically the stars of these events, community managers play a fundamental role in moderating and executing these activities.
Community managers are becoming more involved in creative processes.
As virtual worlds evolve and virtualization emphasizes the spirit of collaboration, brands have an opportunity to give more thought to the role that community managers play within their team. Instead of simply asking ourselves what new platforms to join, we need to follow it up with, “What should be the purpose of the CM in each one?”
Not all brands need to have the same approach, but one thing is certain: when community managers are invited to creative rounds, campaign briefs and content calendar meetings, they are better equipped to create the kind of brand experience that social media managers and creatives are working so hard on. What’s more, they can provide unique insights they’ve gathered from interacting directly with consumers.
In a world where brands need to be active listeners and co-create culture alongside their audience, community managers are key liaisons between the two. As their role evolves, we need to get rid of the simplistic view of posting, responding and reacting—understanding that they have the power to create brand love and a direct impact on the brand experience. Let’s move away from the concept of community managers as an exclusively intern-level position and recognize the importance of elevating the role of those communicating directly with consumers.
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