Is Community Management Unimportant To Marketers?

Is Community Management Unimportant To Marketers?

emarketerAccording to this report, senior marketers say that social networks and applications were their biggest priority for their 2010 marketing plans, followed closely by digital infrastructure. The others priorities included search optimization, mobile, blogger outreach, viral campaigns, digital advertising, email marketing and games.  While these are all important, what’s interesting is that “community management and/or engagement” is not mentioned at all. Perhaps those marketers interviewed consider community management a part of “social networks” but I doubt it.

I would think by now that the majority of marketers are beginning to understand the dynamics of social media.   With all the published case studies, surveys and data available, one would think that marketers would invest more in creating a framework that facilitates conversations between a real-person-of-a-brand and a consumer. In my mind, this is the true nature of social media.

A study back in 2008 showed that 55% of consumers want ongoing conversations with companies and brands. The study investigated how brands and consumers interact and how consumers want brands to engage with them. And the results were awesome. In addition to the 55% wanting an ongoing interaction, 89% of respondents said they would feel more loyal to a brand if they were invited to take part in a feedback group.

A more recent study in 2009 (you can download here) found that 85% of Americans using social media think companies should have an active presence in the social media universe. What’s even more interesting is that those users actually want interaction with these brands. Here are some other data points you mind find useful:

Out of the 85% of people who want companies to be present in social media:

  • 34% want companies to actively interact with them
  • 51% want companies to interact with them as needed or by request
  • 8% think companies should only be passively involved on social media
  • 7% think companies should not be involved at all

This survey alone tells me that marketers should pay a little more attention to their customers and less on spitting out traditional one way messages.

About Michael Brito

Michael Brito has been making things happen online since 1996 with a legit hustle. He gets mad when the 49ers lose, really mad. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.

  • Gordon Steen

    who would you rather talk to? your community or your brands? I would sorta rather be brandless unless they are doing something useful in my community.

  • Michael Brito

    Gordon — good point. There are many brands (real people) that are a party of my community because they are relevant to me.

  • patmcgraw


    What do they (85% of Americans using social media) expect in terms of interaction? Personally, I haven't run into too many customers for clients or employers that want anything beyond fast access to accurate, relevant information – so is the expectation access to a knowledgeable representative that can get me what I want/need?

    Also, I am reading this over morning coffee so the fog hasn't lifted completely but I am confused by the final statistic regarding social media users' expectations – it seems to say that of the 85% of people that want companies present on social media, 7% think companies should not be involved at all. Should that have been of the 85% of Americans using social media?


  • Michael Brito

    Pat — you are exactly right. Interaction in te form of a conversations .. and yes, it could be just sending you to a web page to download a driver or answering a question. What this interaction doesn't mean is some flash web site with a bunch of cool widgets/gadgets.

    Yeah, the last data point doesn't make sense. I might have written it wrong.

  • kennethlim

    You're right, Michael, and I'd be interested in seeing to what extent businesses perceive “social media usage” to be.

    In my experience, it's also worth pointing out that “engagement” isn't a binary something. It's much more contextual.

    A recent example of this is a tweet I sent to @klm (Royal Dutch Airlines). I mentioned to them that I wasn't really fond of their latest email. They sent me an invitation to sign up for something I was already a member of for more than a year and the email had Dutch and English mixed up.

    I even left an opening for them to reply by adding that the site (they wanted me to sign up for) was still buggy, without giving any details.

    No response. And it's not because they're inactive. All the great tweets they get, get retweeted and they're happy to interact with “satisfied customers”.

    Engagement is one thing, but then it becomes a matter of to what degree you are going to engage. If you're only engaging with and through happy messages, you're not better than the one-way messengers or those who don't engage at all.

  • ConversationAgent

    Good, helpful content is also a way to stimulate interaction along with building context. Yet, as I wrote about that a couple of days ago “there is no money in content creation” – everyone expects the tools to be expensive or the custom programming, and not the hard work that goes into listening, tracking issues, responding with tailored content.

  • larryirons

    As you suggest Michael, it is unclear whether the data point on “social networks/applications” includes brand communities. I'd suggest it probably does, because a brand community can exist on a social network platform as well as other Web 2.0 platforms, even though the latter are typically designed specifically for longterm engagement and participation. Research published in The Journal of Marketing late last year suggests that there are really interesting implications for co-creation when we view brand communities from the point of view of practices rather than technologies. I offered some thoughts on the topic a few months ago.

  • Pat Campbell

    You make a great point about companies and brands paying more attention to their actual engagement with consumers through Social Media.

    Companies and Brands who only have scheduled tweets, updates on their agenda without listening to and responding to their consumer base are not using the power of Social Media well.

    They are to be commended for getting a presence within Social Media, for being current. They have relationship issues to learn.

    Companies who have not yet created Social Media accounts would do well to pay attention to your blog posts!

  • Steven Parker

    Your point is a good one, Michael. But I do think it's hard to draw conclusions from this study or frankly any that use the term community. It's a bit perilous because it has so many different meanings, most if not all of which are legit. This is one of those “devil in the details” things. If we use “community” as a handle for the sum total of ALL customer engagement, that's one thing. But what if the respondent thinks it means the company's online user group? Or what if they think that and the company doesn't have one? It's probably too soon to expect senior marketers to consistently pull the lever for community. We need much broader consensus on what it means first. It'll come.

  • ?°•.?.•°????•¯`•°•.?

    Community enagement is one of the keys to savvy social network marketing

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