5 Examples of Incredible Social Media Community Management

Digital Strategy Social Media CaseStudy
20 mins

Every social media page, profile and group has the potential to become the focal point of a vibrant digital community. From the owner’s perspective, the potential upsides here are massive, from increased post engagement to seismic shifts in brand perception.

This article brings together Target Internet’s favourite examples of social media community management in action, including complaint processing, using user-generated content and exploring new online communities. We hope our readers will find some bright ideas to take away and apply to their own brand’s social profiles.

User-generated content campaigns

User-generated content (UGC) refers to content relating to your brand that’s made by members of your audience, rather than by your marketing team. UGC has been around for years in one form or another, but recent advances in the quality of mass market phone cameras and other tech have facilitated a sharp increase in the production standards available to amateur content creators.

Until a few years ago, marketers couldn’t use UGC for very much beyond the occasional cutesy competition. Now we’re seeing marketers using exceptionally high quality UGC in all manner of campaigns.

User-generated content (UGC) is one of your best options for generating engagement and building campaigns across your social media channels. If you want to know how to its done, check out the above example from Marc Jacobs, which quickly became one of the most successful Instagram UGC campaigns to date.

Marc Jacobs won big by offering their audience something huge: the opportunity to become a Marc Jacobs model. Entering was simple: just upload a hash-tagged selfie to Instagram.

Within 24 hours of the campaign’s launch, the hashtag #CastMeMarc had been Instagrammed over 12,000 times – and in time that figure would rise to well over 100,000. Considering the combined reach of all those participants, that’s an awesome result. For Marc Jacobs, incentivising the brand’s social community to post UGC online has yielded immense visibility.

Segment your social audience


Why take on the balancing act of managing a social page that caters your whole, wide audience, when you could simply create separate accounts to speak to the different interest groups within your brand’s following?

Just take a look at Sega. Search for keywords related to Japanese gaming brand on Facebook and you will discover a range of pages, each designed for a particular purpose. These include:

Sega has much to gain from splitting its social activity up into these separate communities. First and foremost, building stand-alone communities for the most popular products or areas within your brand (i.e. Sonic the Hedgehog) is a practical choice, as these fan favourite topics could well attract more interest than the brand itself. That’s precisely the case in this instance, with Sega’s 1.8 million likes paling in comparison to its Sonic’s tally of 5.6 million.

For Sega to create a dedicated Sonic the Hedgehog page makes perfect sense; their spiky blue mascot is a pop culture icon in his own right. But they go further than that too, by breaking their social operation down into even more specialised groups, including ‘Official Sonic Merchandise’ and ‘Mario & Sonic Games’. This strategy can provide a number of benefits:

  • Increasing your share of voice– the more pages you have that are delivering content about your brand and creating engagement, the higher your social media share of voice will be.
  • Hitting the biggest fans with extra content – if you have multiple social profiles, it’s likely that your brand’s biggest fans will engage with more than one of them. This provides the opportunity deliver a higher volume of content to your biggest fans than the organic reach of a single page would likely allow.
  • Creating specialised communities – Sega’s various Facebook pages cater for topics of varying specificity, from the relatively mainstream Sega page, through the somewhat nerdier Sonic the Hedgehog page, to the highly specific Mario & Sonic Games page. These pages have been cultivated into unique communities with tones, topics and in-jokes all of their own. To somebody who has never played a Sonic game in their life, both the Sonic the Hedgehog page and the Mario & Sonic Games page must seem absolutely baffling, whereas the Sega page markets new games in a way that might appeal to a newcomer, using trailers, announcements and other similarly straightforward techniques. In each of these specialised communities, Sega has created the perfect forum to retain the interest of a certain customer group.

Social groups can be outstanding platforms for B2B soft-selling

B2B service providers and Facebook groups for professionals generally have the same essential purpose: to make their clients or members more successful. Some savvy B2B sellers have cottoned on to the fact that this commonality provides an opportunity to pitch their services to the perfect audience.

Let’s imagine you’re a photography tutor. You could sow the seeds of a lucrative soft-selling operation by founding a Facebook group where people can advertise wedding photography gigs. Not only would your group have the potential to be very useful for both photographers and their prospective clients; it could also collect a large number of professional photographers within a community where you occupy a position of influence. Significantly, in the act of joining the group, your members have unambiguously expressed a will to further their careers and find more work. As a photography tutor, you should be well placed to help them achieve these aims.

Where does your B2B sales pitch come into play?

Pitching B2B services via a social media group is an incredibly delicate procedure – sell too hard and you’ll risk alienating members of the community.

They key is to sell passively, only making an exception when your services can directly answer a group member’s problem.

  • Pin a post explaining who you are, why you founded the group, and how members should conduct themselves (e.g. whether or not they should include a price if posting a job offer, rules on being polite to other users, etc.) Add a link to your website in this pinned post, and also in the group description.
  • Make sure that the personal profile you used to create the group is looking smart, with a professional headshot profile picture, an up-to-date job listing and no overly incriminating photos from your last office do
  • Consider using your branding in the group’s cover photo
  • Invite as many friendly faces from your industry as possible to join the group. Its far easier to grow a community if you start out with a supportive core membership
  • Engage with call-outs for advice. *Where appropriate* you can take this opportunity to offer your B2B service


Engage with legitimate criticisms


The really fascinating thing about social media communities is that they are never fully under the owner’s control. Yes, you can shape the conversation within the community, but others may freely add their voices to your own.

This can be a blessing and a curse – for a brand like McDonald’s, you sense it might be predominantly the latter. When a company attracts controversy and trades at high volumes, its social media accounts will invariably be targeted for complaining customers and ethical opponents. To keep your social community in good health, you’ll need to have a process in place for publically handling legitimate complaints as they are posted.

The image above shows a typical interaction on the McDonald’s UK Facebook page. A customer has complained by commenting on an advertisement post, and the fast food chain’s social team have responded with the following:

“Hey Mike, we’re really sorry to see this, that’s not right. Thanks for letting us know though, our Customer Services team will want to look into it. Would you mind logging full details at http://goo.gl/j6IdBL please? Someone will be in touch as soon as they can investigate this ASAP.”

Say what you will about McDonald’s, but they do write a good social media apology. Here’s what we like about it:

  • “Hey Mike” – using the customer’s name is the most efficient way to part-personalise a generic message
  • “we’re really sorry to see this” – expresses empathy without directly apologising to the customer. Sneaky!
  • “that’s not right” – when the customer provides compelling evidence to back up their complaint (i.e. that photo of a mangled-looking burger), it’s important to let them know that you understand they’re in the right
  • “Would you mind logging full details at […] please?” – funnels the interaction into a private customer service channel, potentially preventing further public negativity
  • “ASAP” – assures the customer that the issue is being treated urgently, without giving any specific guarantees

Few brands will need to handle negativity within their social media communities on the same scale faced by McDonald’s, but however small and perfectly formed your company may be, you absolutely should have a strategy in place for handling complaints and negative comments. We recommend you follow the McApology method outlined above – address the customer by their name, tell them you’re sorry to hear what’s happened, and funnel the conversation into a private channel.

Tap into alternative online communities

With a good amount of study and sensitivity, anyone can master the shibboleths of an exotic online community.

Take Imgur for example. This oddly-named site is an image-sharing platform with well over 100 million users worldwide. Many Imgurians will happily while away minutes and hours browsing random user-submitted images – so if you post here you can expect to garner hundreds, if not thousands of views without spending a penny. Too good to be true?

Yep. Alternative online communities like Imgur tend to be deeply anti-corporate, and only certain types of content are accepted.

Who can use Imgur for marketing?

  • Independent producers – people selling their own handmade products, or creating original creative content such as art or music. [EXAMPLE: http://imgur.com/gallery/gqiRH]
  • SMEs/larger companies – larger companies absolutely should not use Imgur or similar channels as places to directly publish their marketing materials (unless paying for a sponsored post). They can, however, target Imgur users in infographic/viral content distribution. Eye-catching infographics often get shared on Imgur – just make sure the content you promote for this purpose is relatively light on branding. [EXAMPLE: http://imgur.com/gallery/L5lA8IN]
  • Attractions – Imgur represents a hidden gem of an opportunity for tourist attraction marketers. Create a user account (in the marketer’s or a made-up name), upload a batch of very good quality photos of the attraction, and add a link to its website.

Before you go ahead, a note of caution: it’s a bad idea to use a community like Imgur for marketing purposes if you are unsure of its particular customs and sociolect. Whichever alternative community you choose, spend a few evenings browsing before you post – or better still, use a community in which you are already active.

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