Updated: Jun 21, 2020
Community is the end goal for many brands, the brass ring of digital marketing, a self-perpetuating audience eager to engage directly with your brand and each other. But, as Uncle Ben famously said, “With great power, there must also come great responsibility”. For brands, this responsibility is to your audience, to moderate your platform and ensure an open environment for everyone, free of bigotry and hatred.
In marketing today, one of the most common mistakes we find is brands not managing or engaging with their communities. It’s easy to believe that to grow your brand, the only element that matters is content. However, when you’re building a community, it’s crucial to actively engage with your users and manage your community. Answer customer questions, celebrate wins, solve customer problems and most importantly, give them a healthy space to enjoy and engage with the brand.
Your community is a reflection of your brand, your culture and your values, and as such, it needs moderation – active moderation. The internet can be an anonymous space, and as an unfortunate side effect, members of your audience can be cruel, insensitive or even bigoted towards each other.
In cases of Racism, Sexism, Homophobia or the spread of misinformation in your comments section, you may think deleting the comment and banning the user is enough, but it’s not. Dr Martin Luther King once said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps perpetuate it”. If users know that bigotry is permitted, you will attract bigots. As a brand and a leader, it’s not enough to ban such negativity; you have to address it to assure your audience that this is a space free from hate. Speak directly to your community and help them understand your values, and that bigotry will not be tolerated.
You may be thinking that this feels like a minefield, and perhaps it’s best to avoid touching the community component of digital marketing. However, according to L&A Social, 67% of customers use social media to troubleshoot errors and seek solutions on issues involving products, and customer complaints have increased eight times on social media since 2014.
Individual user experiences are the key defining factors of brand loyalty. For every positive interaction users have with your brand, the more likely they are to continue their experience and act as brand ambassadors for you, recommending your brand to their network and enriching your community. Conversely, any negative interactions with your community, even if your brand is not directly involved, harm your reputation and create brand detractors. These users dissuade others from your brand and ultimately take away from your community.
Community management is not just a moral imperative; if you ignore this vital component, your brand and business will suffer.