The Good, The Bad And The Ugly: Valuable PR Lessons Ecommerce Brands Can Learn From Community Management

13 November 2020

Posted in: Ecommerce Social

Community management might feel like just another daily task to tick off as part of your social strategy. Replying to queries, handling complaints, responding to tweets—it can often feel like a box to check simply in order to shift it off your to-do list for that day.

But for ecommerce brands, it can impart some vital lessons.

With shoppers turning to social as their first point of contact with a brand, social media is the coalface of brand-customer relationships. Read on for a few valuable lessons your ecommerce brand can learn from community management—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

PR is a two-way street, so share the love

We won’t lie, community management is, by and large, mostly about managing angry and upset customers.

But for every Grumpy Goose and Critical Karen out there, there are ten more happy customers who just want to share their love for your brand—so share it right back!

Liking a comment, retweeting a tweet, or replying to a post with a quick line or two takes a couple of minutes, but has a lasting effect on your customer relationships.

Beyond this, it’s also a good PR exercise—it shows your followers you have a human side, that your social account is about more than pushing customer complaints through the usual process.

Even a simple ‘favourite’ of a tweet is enough to give your followers a dopamine hit and leave them with that warm, fuzzy feeling inside. It says to them that the brand they loved took the time to stop and engage with something they shared.

Yes, community management is a crucial customer service touchpoint, and it’s all but essential for handling complaints.

But don’t let the complainers overshadow the happy campers who want to celebrate your brand and its products.

The importance of being human

Is there anything quite as insincere as someone who is trying their hardest to sound sincere?

Whether it’s from the disgraced government minister caught fiddling their expenses or the CEO of some giant tech company busted for razing down a protected rainforest, there’s nothing more insincere than an apology that tries to sound sincere.

People aren’t stupid, and they can detect a calculated, media-trained apology from a mile off.

And your customers aren’t stupid either.

Robotic language, evasive turns of phrase, empty platitudes—these kinds of things don’t land with savvy consumers.

What really resonates with customers is genuine, human personality, expressed through language, manner, and behaviour.

And the nature of community management attests to this.

The best community managers are those who engage with customers in a relatable, human way.

That means ditching the boilerplate “we are sorry to hear you’ve had a negative experience…” responses and opting for something a little more personable. Lean on accepted colloquialisms or turns-of-phrase (“we dropped the ball”) to give your community management a believable, human element.

This doesn’t just apply to your customer complaint handling either. Respond to customer queries with the same personable style, using everyday language, emojis, and gifs to breathe a little life into your social management.

If you do need to lean on boilerplate copy, build humanity into it or encourage your community managers to tweak them a little each time they’re used.

Community managements turns brands into publishers

Before community management became a thing, PR was largely about press liaisons—connecting with journos to manage public image through editorials, news spots, soft stories, and so on.

And while community management won’t replace this traditional form of PR, it does offer a new avenue to pursue.

Rather than going through print or digital media, it lets you circumvent the press and gives you a chance to connect directly with their (and your) audience through social.

While it won’t give you access to all and sundry, it does let you interact with the people that matter—your followers and customers. This lets you get a handle on news stories and present them how you want.

Recently made the switch to 100% recyclable packaging?

Pitching that as a viable news story to a journo could be tricky—they get hundreds of pitches a day, and making yours stand out is a challenge.

But writing a branded post and sending it straight to your customers via social? That’s a slick bit of PR that is far more likely to get read by the people that matter.

This kind of controlled, branded PR won’t displace digital or print stories. People will continue to get their news from these accepted news outlets.

Get granular and connect directly with your customers

The PR of old was a different place. It relied heavily on focus groups and user feedback, and turnaround for news stories was around 24 hours, largely coordinated through traditional reporters and cascaded through print media and the evening news.

But in this brave new world of PR, this approach has become laser-focused. Social media lets brands circumvent traditional media channels and connect directly with the consumer.

Where traditional PR adopted a blanket approach, with a news story being read by the many, social media and community management is PR for the few.

From direct conversations with customers on Twitter to branded content cascaded via YouTube, social media closes the gap between brand and consumer, and community management plays a vital role in that.

It emphasises a granular approach to PR—speaking with individuals on a personal basis, having a conversation with them, creating deep, human relationships on platforms designed for exactly that.

Sure, editorial placements, HARO comments, press conferences, and the like still have their place. But communicating directly with your audience in a public space like social? That’s where the real value of community management for PR comes into play.

The lessons above are varied, but there is a clear emphasis on humanity here—being personable and approachable.

Community management lets ecommerce brands build deeper, closer, more meaningful relationships with their customers.

Naturally, this translates into better brand image, greater brand cachet, and a stronger PR strategy overall.

Yes, trawling through a raft of posts, comments, and tweets first thing in the morning can feel like a chore. But when you get such rich insights like the above, it’s a chore worth doing.

Want to take your ecommerce strategy up a notch? We’ve helped loads of ecommerce stores grow their brand, and we can help yours too—get in touch!

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