Last week we talked about the importance of community building and, in case you had any doubts about this, barely scratched at the surface. The mechanism of building an online community around your brand is complex, sophisticated, and involves numerous resources, including tools such as social media and emailing campaigns, but also the human resource. In other words, often enough, the success or failure of an attempt to build a community will revolve around the team you select, train, and put to work in this process. And just as often, an otherwise well-intended effort will fail precisely because the team was not correctly assembled. When the Guest Post Shop first opened its doors, selecting the right individuals and assigning them clear-cut responsibilities was one of the major challenges we faced. This is why today’s post is all about the community building team: what it is, what it should do, and how to go about assembling it.
In-house versus outsourced
Now, there is no one sure-fire way to make sure you’ve got the right team for the job of building an online community around your brand. Like many other organizations, you, too can choose to employ a digital marketing agency to work for you and help you out with their expertise and know-how. This is by no means less efficient or appropriate than in-housing the community building process. You can work with an external team or you could be brave enough to take on the assignment with your own staff. If you do outsource, make sure that you, a representative of the organization for which the community is being built, are present, involved, and well-represented. Make sure you’re getting your goals across to the team in charge of this assignment, because, at the end of the day, this is your brand, your investment, and your best interest.
When working with an in-house team, you will have to keep a few particularities in mind. First off, you might not have enough financial or management resources at your disposal to hire dedicated staff for any one role within the community building team. You might have to delegate several roles to the same staff member and/or train someone already working for your organization, in order to make sure they understand what they have to do and how they will actually achieve what’s been asked of them.
Whichever route you choose, understand that putting together a community, from the ranks of which you’ll be recruiting content sharers and brand advocates, is an organic process. You could even choose to mix in-housing with outsourcing, thus having several teams working together toward the same goal. The important thing is that everybody understands what they’re working toward and is on the same page about the tools, resources, and overarching strategy. Building an online community is not a conveyor-belt kind of process, with cogs and wheels turning mindlessly, in order to collect more likes or get more page views. It’s about brand value and communication.
Whom you need to work with
The various roles involved in the process of amassing a community are diverse and equally important. While there is no one-size fits all kind of recipe out there, here’s whom you need. Keep in mind that, as specified above, you can have several roles filled out by the same person. Just be sure that you (as well as they) understand what that role is.
- The project manager. This is the person in charge of overseeing the strategy implementation process. They need to make sure everyone else on the team is abiding by the deadlines and achieving their landmark goals.
- The designer. Think banners, Facebook cover photos, Instagram content, visuals for Pinterest, and just about any other type of visual content your brand needs. Ideally, this person should be skilled in a wide range of fields, from photography to photo editing to web design to illustration. However, as long as they can do one of them very well, you’re good to go.
- The writer. This is the long- or short-form copywriter, to whom you will assign all content tasks, from newsletters and blog content, to slogans and Facebook copy.
- The community manager. This is the person who will manage all your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.), monitor user responses (comments, likes, shares), and, should you have more than one content writer on board, oversee their work.
- The strategist. The person who is best described as a SEO expert, they will be looking into metrics on a regular basis, perform analyses of data, and implement website architecture optimization. They will also research keywords and design a strategy for content.
- The email marketer. This role should be filled by someone who understands how email marketing campaigns work, from strategy and clicks, to layout and design, to copy and content.