The importance of online communities in a co-operative

Today is Community Manager Appreciation Day, a day for social media community managers across the world to share our experiences with our community of practice. Today seems like a good day to introduce ourselves and explain what community managers do at the Co-op. Here we are: Catherine Storey, Ian Ferguson, Jordan Mcdowell, Scott Bennett and Sophie Newton.

Head shots of our five community managers: Catherine Storey, Ian Ferguson, Jordan Mcdowell, Scott Bennett and Sophie Newton

Managing Co-op communities

Let’s start with the ‘community’ part. Community is at the heart of Co-op and we talk about it often. Co-op members choose a cause in their local community and we give that chosen cause 1% of whatever a member spends on our own-brand products. We often think of communities as groups of people doing a similar thing or sharing an interest around where we live, but many of us are part of online communities too. If you use Twitter, Instagram, write blog posts or join a Facebook group, you’re engaged in some way in an online community, formed around common interests.

The ‘manager’ part of the role title comes from how we work with online communities. Our communities are generally made up of 3 types of people: colleagues from across the business, members and customers. We’re responsible for finding, nurturing and listening to the online communities that are speaking about Co-op products, services and the ways we work. By asking the right questions, listening to and collating community feedback we inform business decisions.

Talk to us. We’re listening

Listening to online communities is an important thing for all businesses, but, as a co-operative it’s essential that we give our members a voice and they have a say in how we’re run.

Our hashtag #shapeourcoop has been a really useful way of talking and listening to members and customers before feeding back to decision makers. During the AGM in May we took questions from our Twitter community and Richard Pennycook our Chief Executive; Allan Leighton, Chair of the Group Board and Nick Crofts, President of the Members Council answered them in real time.

It’s noisy out there!

In 2016 over 280,500 tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram posts and other social media posts were sent direct to our social channels. There were over 2 million mentions of our Food business on social media overall. So, there’s a lot of chatter to listen to and engage with.

We’ve created new conversations across social platforms. Our #TwitterTeaParty inspired online communities with ideas for mother’s day celebrations. We trended internationally for 12 hours, had 2010 mentions directed at our channels and made 56 million impressions. We also had a lot of tea and cake.

More recently at Christmas time we were involved in #ReverseAdvent, an existing trend on social media. We provided ‘packs’ (goody bags) to hundreds of people, helping them give back to their local communities. The hashtag was seen on social media over 77 million times during advent.

What we’re working on now

At the moment we’re working out ways we can have meaningful conversations with members and non-members about things that really matter to them. Once we find out, we can figure out if there’s a way that Co-op can help champion them. In the past this has included conversations about Co-op’s Ethical Framework, tackling loneliness and social isolation with British Red Cross and we have lots more coming up.

Don’t just watch this space – get involved!

You can join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and follow The Co-op blogs.

Sophie Newton
Social Media Community Manager

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s