LiveWorld strategic community management

October 11, 2010
Posted by: Jenna Woodul

Even though community management is increasingly understood as key to a social media strategy, the services it includes can vary. Some of our customers have an in-house community manager, and what they need from LiveWorld is support around best practices. Others look to us to take on the full-time role of managing the community, including everything from interaction with the membership, to full programming execution, to executive reports.

How we put it together

Strategic community management from LiveWorld is a team effort: Executive Sponsor, Senior Community Management Strategist, and Community Manager collaborate toward a suite of services. Depending on what you need, we provide an initial set of sessions to define your community architecture (including cross-web cultural model, plus brand participation and marketing integration); launch and community programming plans; and ongoing growth consultation — with the multi-level approaches required as communities mature. We can also prepare you for possible challenges such as brand-jacking crises and adverse events.
We’ve got a lot of practical knowledge gained from both successful community building and disappointing turnouts, having worked with a diverse set of communities across multiple industries. The idea — no matter what the particular scenario — is to support your own (and your agency’s) strategic endeavors with hands-on, proven models for getting the most out of online community for you and your customers.
More specifically, here’s what we include in any engagement, whether for a central brand site community or a Facebook Page:

  • Strategy: We’ll start with discussions about your business and community goals. Then work on the culture you envision for the community — meaning how people will express themselves, connect with one another, and give or get attention. Then turn to participation, or what the brand’s role will be in the community. And finally, integration — or how it all fits in with existing marketing. We end up with a social brief, which becomes the guide for community development.
  • Tactics: Key here is the Community Content Programming Plan, which is a blueprint for sparking and sustaining interaction. For each part of your community (i.e., forums, photos, videos, chat), how will people be able to connect and interact? And for each segment of your community (i.e., newcomers, old-timers, members, visitors) how might the possibilities be different? We’ll work with you on the moderation approach, and how you plan to get things started at the community launch.
  • Engagement: Staying close to the community is really important. We’ll be checking it daily, observing what’s going on and participating regularly at some level. The understanding we get from that activity supports our recommendations for issues or challenges that come up — and they will. Things like little or huge response to programming, slow or fast growth, community upsets, un-envisioned or off-brand members or behavior, big successes and total misses.
  • Evaluation: Whatever the platform, we’ll be analyzing the metrics available against your goals — adding an interpretation of the community’s progress and health. Given the dynamic nature of any community, we’ll be recommending adjustments — of programming, moderation, the brand’s role and response to customers,marketing of the community and its visibility.

It comes in different sizes

As I mentioned earlier in this post, engagements vary: Sometimes we may be assisting on a quarter to half-time basis, where companies already have community managers or agencies working on their communities. In those cases, we’re likely helping with programming plans, advising around best practices, interacting as community members, and providing basic reports and analysis.
On the other end of the spectrum, we may be providing one or more three-quarter to full-time Community Managers. Here we’d be executing most or all of the content programming according to an editorial calendar. We might have the full responsibility for member interaction as the brand’s visible representative. Services at this level are also likely to include member surveys, competitive analysis, or even working in-house with brand teams.
Generally, as hours increase, the percentages devoted to the types of services change. For example, when we’re providing full-time community management, the percentage of engagement will be far higher than when we’re in an assisting role — perhaps approaching or exceeding 50%. It all depends on the time committed and tasks handled in-house. What’s important to ensure is that all these areas are handled — so your investment pays off.