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How to prove the value of social media communities: 5 steps social media managers can take to get clients, leadership, and other stakeholders on board
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How to prove the value of social media communities: 5 steps social media managers can take to get clients, leadership, and other stakeholders on board

Social Media
July 5, 2024
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Our goal as social media managers is simple (not easy, but simple): We're here to build communities. 

Social media communities impact awareness, trust, advocacy, product development – and yes, even revenue! 

But proving the value of community-building to stakeholders – including your clients, your leadership team, and that one guy from sales who's really invested in your content calendar – can prove to be challenging.  

So we've put together a step-by-step plan social media managers and agencies can use to prove the value of social media communities. Use these strategies to get buy-in from your stakeholders and continue growing engaged communities. 

How to prove the value of social media communities

Without communities, social media is just . . . media! Here are the 5 steps you can take to get your stakeholders on board with a community-focused social media strategy. 

1. Define your community-building objective and KPIs

Step 1? A big ol' brainstorming session. Before you approach your stakeholders with your vision of the community, you'll need to define its purpose. That's because the metrics you use to measure the success of your community will look different depending on your community's core objective.

Let's say, for example, your community's purpose is customer support. You want to improve customer satisfaction and reduce support costs. In this case, your KPIs would be retention, satisfaction scores, and support costs. 

To help you determine your community's purpose, we've put together a 7-step social media community-building framework. Use it to answer this question: "Why do you want to build community with your current social media following?" (If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you can follow steps 2–7 to build out your strategy now. Or come back to it later.)

2. Benchmark your community’s success

Now that you know your community's purpose and associated KPIs, it's time to collect benchmarks, set targets, and decide timelines.

You’ll need to figure out where you currently stand. So dive into the data! Using your KPIs from Step 1, make note of your current results. Those numbers will be your benchmarks.

Some of your KPIs might be social media metrics. After all, that's where your community takes up space! Let's pretend Instagram is your primary social media platform. You can use HeyOrca's Instagram integration to benchmark the metrics that matter most, which might include your growth rate, engagement, mentions, and more. (In case it wasn't already obvious, we recommend you try HeyOrca Reports for this.)

Once you have your benchmarks, consider what some other indicators of improvement might look like. They can be qualitative or quantitative indicators. For example, maybe social media comments with a positive sentiment will indicate success for your community.

Finally, set your targets. Where do you hope to be? And in what measure of time? Here are 2 things to consider as you move through this step:

  • Set ambitious but realistic goals. To do so, consider your historical data. If your support costs have been rising for the last 6 months, projecting a 50% reduction in support costs may not be attainable right away.
  • Remember that building a community is not a short-term solution. Instead of setting weekly or monthly targets, consider setting quarterly and annual targets. That doesn't mean you can't measure your progress every week or month, but it does mean you should view community as a long-term investment. For context, HeyOrca’s community-building results have been 13 months in the making. 

At the end of this exercise, you should be able to fill in the blanks of this sentence for your 3 most important KPIs:

We're tracking [KPI], which is currently at [benchmark]; we hope to bring it to [target] by [date]. 

3. Create a compelling presentation

Now that your objectives and benchmarks are crystal clear, you're ready to create a winning presentation. To make things smooth sailing, consider using a presentation template. Take a look at this list of free Canva templates to see if anything catches your eye.  

Your presentation doesn't need to be incredibly long, but you should consider including the following sections:

Brief coverage of industry facts

This step is optional – but effective! Before you get into the meat and potatoes of your presentation, you may want to set the stage. To demonstrate the value of community to stakeholders, hit 'em with the cold hard facts. (Don't actually hit them, though. Present the facts nicely.)

Here are 5 statistics that grab attention and make it really hard to deny the value of community-building. Choose one or two that are relevant to your brand. Or do your own research to find relevant facts about social media communities.

  • Communities boost your bottom line! 81.6% of consumers say being a member of a community makes them more likely to purchase a brand's new offers.
  • Promotional posts don't just slow your growth; they hurt it! 45% of consumers say they would unfollow a brand for posting too much self-promotion.
  • Consumers crave community! 76% of consumers say they wish their favourite brands offered a community they could join.
  • Communities build social proof! 91.% of consumers will leave a review because they're a member of the brand's community.
  • Brand loyalty and advocacy are natural results of community-building. 81.5% of community members consider themselves brand advocates. 

Objectives and benchmarks

Now for the juicy part of your presentation. Add your research from sections 1 and 2 to your slides.

Here's a checklist to help you stay on track:

✅ Outline your community's primary purpose

✅ Identify the 3 main KPIs your community will affect

✅ Highlight your current benchmarks

✅ Reveal your target benchmarks

✅ Propose a timeline for achieving your targets

✅ Indicate any additional markers of success

In addition to the above points, your stakeholders will likely want to know how you plan to achieve results. So come prepared with a tried-and-true community-building framework that illustrates your approach. Feel free to steal our 7-question community-building framework for that.

Here's a sneak peek at how Coleena Raynor, Marketing Coordinator in the wealth management industry, filled out the framework. (You can visit our community-building canvas for more.)

Pink and blue text says: "Social media manager community-building canvas" with two text boxes communicating Coleena's purpose (education and community) and shared identify (financial literacy).
Example responses to the first two questions in HeyOrca's social media community-building canvas.


Don’t forget to also include real-world examples in your presentation.

Examples can include success stories from other brands, like HeyOrca. (We decreased cost-per-acquisition by 80% by adopting a community-focused approach.) 

Examples can also be social media posts that help your stakeholders better understand what community-focused content looks like. Here’s a good example from Libby Hendry, Social Media Manager at Attwell Solicitors.

Instead of posting promotional content for the law firm, Libby took a stab at the “looking for a man in finance” TikTok trend to connect with (and entertain!) her community. As a result of her fun, community-focused approach to content creation, the post generated an impressive ​​9.5 million views, media attention, and perhaps most importantly, messages about vacancies and inquiries about legal work. 

Dedicated Q&A 

Finally, expect questions! Carve out some time at the end of your presentation to address any questions your stakeholders may have. To help you prepare, here are some frequently asked questions:

  • What qualifies someone as a community member? 
  • What is the plan for moderating the social media community? 
  • Is building a social media community a long-term strategy? 
  • How will this new strategy impact the marketing budget? 
  • How will this new strategy change the team’s workflow or current processes?
  • Will you need additional support to build the social media community? 
  • How will building a social media community impact our company’s financials? 

Your answers to these questions will vary depending on your brand’s mission, your community’s purpose, and the industry in which you work. If you’re faced with a challenging question, remember your “why” . . . 

Why build community? Why now? 

Answer: Your community is your differentiator. It’s the one thing your competitors can’t copy. 

4. Implement a content creation workflow and approval process

Once your presentation is over, you’re done. Just kidding! 

Once you’ve got your stakeholders on board to build community, keep them engaged by implementing a solid content creation workflow and approval process. 

Here’s what we recommend: 

  • Clearly define your role and your stakeholders’ roles in building your community. Some of these questions will have been answered in your initial presentation, but others may require another discussion: Who is responsible for creating posts? How often will posts be published? Who is responsible for managing and engaging with the community? At what frequency will comments and DMs be responded to? If applicable, who will reward community members for their participation and how will they do so?
  • When you need to get buy-in from your team or stakeholders to participate in photos, videos, or other content, show them examples to illustrate your idea. Seeing an example should help them understand how they will be portrayed and how their participation will impact the community. 
  • Finally – this might be our favourite tip yet! – implement a content approval process. Seeking approvals ensures everyone is on the same page about your community-focused content. When you use HeyOrca to build your community, you’ll enjoy an easy-to-use content approval system built right in. Just create your posts, send them to your stakeholders via a shareable link, and sit back as they review your content. Your stakeholders or clients can mark posts as “Approved” or “Rejected” and can even leave feedback on posts – all without logging in. 

5. Measure your performance and keep stakeholders in the loop

You've made it to the final step! At this stage, it's time to measure your impact and evolve as your community grows.

Here are 4 things you should do to keep your community – and your stakeholders – engaged:

  • Keep an eye on those KPIs. And report on them regularly. Are you hitting your targets? This is the main question your stakeholders will want answered. So be sure to schedule regular meetings or check-ins, show them the results, and provide them with easy-to-read reports.
  • Re-evaluate your targets over time. You should expect to adjust your benchmarks as you build your community up.
  • Listen to your community. Feedback loops boost efficiency and productivity. So when a community member offers feedback (whether positive or negative), be sure to thank them, encourage them to keep the feedback coming, and bring the information to your team. Your community's feedback is crucial for product development!
  • Share wins! As a social media manager, you see the glowing comments from your community members. But your stakeholders may not. So show them! Orca tip: Create a "wins folder" and fill it will screenshots of all the positive comments you receive from your community. This folder will come in handy when you need a boost (or a promotion!). 

Summary

Now you know how to prove the value of community to your clients, leadership team, and other stakeholders. For even more community-building tips and tricks, subscribe to our daily social media newsletter, the HeyOrca Brief. And if you’re looking for a tool to help you grow your social media community more efficiently, give HeyOrca a try for free

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