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How to Become a Great Community Manager

Chelsey Walters

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Regardless of whether or not the FDA chooses to issue guidance on social media, pharma companies will need to either hire or cultivate exceptional community managers. Social media is here to stay and people will continue to use these new communication channels to band together and discuss brands, treatments, diseases and their lifestyle as a patient, caregiver or healthcare professional. Even if your brand chooses not to participate in, or simply listen to, the various groups that make up your brand community, the skills to manage the community will be necessary for your marketing team.

Over the last couple years, we’ve watched as pharma has introduced a handful of community managers within their respective communities. And, we’ve noticed some attributes that have made them successful.

Know Your Community

The most important thing you can do as a community manager is know your community and the people in it. Not only will it help you develop the appropriate content that will be interesting and engaging, but it will also allow you to better understand the needs of your community. Simply listening to your audience on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms will help you identify influencers and understand what platforms they use, how they use them and what the exact rules of engagement will be for your company and brand.

Define Yourself

Once you understand your community, it’s important to have a defined persona. What kind of tone will you have? How do you want members to see you? Friendly? Funny? For pharma, there is usually a fine balance between showing personality, whether it is empathy or humor, and being professional. In social media, we are dealing with people. And, people want to hear from someone who is an understanding, professional and trusted resource.

Keep It Personal

Although you may be serving a number of community members, those members aren’t all gathered together in one place all the time. Make sure your content is personal and conversational, as if you are talking one-on-one. Members will connect better with a community manager that shows their human side versus their corporate side. No one wants to have conversations with brands that simply push out robotic, promotional content and responses.

Participate in Your Community

Make sure to post often enough to keep your followers interested, but not so much that people will feel that you are spamming or harassing them. There is no exact benchmark for times, or what, to post. So, pay attention to the responses you get from your community to find the right balance for your brand.

Respond in a Timely Manner

Community managers that respond too late to questions have ruined some of the best conversations. Members are less likely to continue to engage with a brand that is silent. For pharma, this can be a challenge due to regulations and the review process. For many brands, content needs to be approved by medical, legal and regulatory teams before it can be posted online. This slows down response times and makes it harder to post content that is timely. However, many of the best community managers have been trained by their regulatory teams and allowed to answer in a compliant way to nearly every foreseeable scenario. It is always smart to team community managers with regulatory counterparts to ensure conversation can flow naturally online.

Watch Your Competitors

Keeping track of what your competitors are doing can be helpful in several ways. It can help you learn what you are doing well, what you should be doing and inspire new content for your own pages.

Every company that chooses to use social media understands that there is still a lot to learn. Communities will change over time and the people you trust to manage those communities will become more valuable to your company and its reputation online. We also know that every engagement is different. So, the right strategy is very important and can help generate more conversations and ultimately create a more valuable and meaningful experience for each of your community members. Be sure to keep in mind your business goals and exactly what you will bring to your community. It will make all the difference when the conversations start.

For more information and tips about social media and pharma, click here.

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