What does community management look like?
Colorado State University’s Instagram account holds a very large audience. It currently has more than 76,000 followers and is growing by 150-250 new followers each week. CSU is followed by prospective students, current students and alumni, which is important to recognize because the diverse audience allows for a wide range of engagement from followers on posts and stories. People who follow an account with many followers, like CSU, sometimes engage with content for the chance to get a response from the branded account. When managing a social media account that gets a lot of engagement, it is difficult to be persistent with responding to comments, direct messages, and tagged photos, simply because the notifications are constantly coming in.
For some branded accounts, community management might not be much of a priority. However, many accounts do value engaging with their followers and do it really well. For example, Major League Baseball’s Instagram account has prioritized responding to a large number of comments on their posts, even though their engagement is exponentially larger than CSU’s account. Something that I have noticed is how much their followers enjoy getting a response from MLB, and since followers have noticed that they will get a response if they comment, it increases their likeliness of posting a comment. Engaging with fans is a great way to boost followers and engagement numbers, but beyond that it helps to create a well rounded account that people want to follow and get excited about.
Followers want to be seen
Since I began taking on more responsibility with community management on CSU’s Instagram account, I have tried to learn the best ways to engage with followers. Taking inspiration from MLB’s account, I have started responding to comments on CSU’s posts and commenting on the posts the account is tagged in. Since many of CSU’s followers are students, being able to have a personal interaction with them allows them to feel welcomed by the University and more included in it. I am a student myself and I want to feel welcomed, appreciated, and noticed by the University, and that can be difficult on a campus with 30,000 people all seeking the same thing. Community management on social media goes beyond the increased engagement, it allows followers to feel noticed, which ultimately creates a welcoming environment at CSU.
Sometimes interacting with followers can be difficult, but a great way to start is to observe what other accounts are doing to engage with their followers. Many universities will repost tagged photos on their accounts and also share photo submissions, which is a great way to help a follower feel included and recognized. There are many ways to engage with followers and there are many ways to learn how to engage. Some good accounts to look at are MLB on Instagram and universities such as, Ohio State, The University of Kansas, The University of Utah, and The University of Oregon.