Content is an essential ingredient for growing and maintaining a healthy online community.
If your community is going to be successful it needs a clear vision.
You need to define your community’s vision and build a robust content strategy to convey this vision to your members. And as your community grows, you must communicate its vision again and again.
The right type of content will also help you engage and grow your members, build trust, and strengthen relationships.
Creating a Content Strategy for Your Online Community
To ensure you provide the right type of content, to the right people, at the right time, you need to create a well thought out content strategy.
So, where should you start?
Who Exactly Are You Talking To?
To provide the most meaningful content to your members you need to understand them. What are their needs, their interests, their pain points?
Creating personas is a useful technique to better understand your audience. More info on that here. Once you have your personas, try to come up with three to four main content topics relevant to each.
Each content idea needs to be analyzed in terms of the relevance and value it will bring to your community members. Consider also content formats and how you will deliver content based on your personas’ preferences.
Brand Voice: How Are You Going to Talk to Your Audience?
So, now you know who you're talking to and the best way to reach them, how are you going to talk to them?
Using language and style your audience understands is key to building a connection.
There are several ways to define your brand voice. One of the most common methods is based on the following four dimensions:
Funny vs. serious: Do you want to be humorous? Or do you want to approach the subject seriously?
Innocent is a good example of a brand with a funny voice!
Formal vs Casual: Do you want the writing to be formal? Or would you prefer a more informal approach?
Mailchimp takes a more casual approach.
Do you want to approach the subject respectfully? Or do we want to take an irreverent approach?
Gillette tends to communicate respectfully with a caring voice.
Enthusiastic vs Matter of Fact: Do you want to be enthusiastic in your communication? Or do you prefer the content to be dry and matter-of-fact?
Brilliant Noise takes an enthusiastic approach.
Ask your stakeholders to vote on the above dimensions. This will give you the foundation for your brand's voice.
Whether it’s funny or serious, enthusiastic, or matter-of-fact, your brand’s voice needs to be decided from the very start, and it needs to be consistent across all channels.
Organizing Your Content Creation
An ad-lib approach to content creation won’t cut it in the long run. Producing quality well-researched content takes time.
A content calendar enables you to plan and organize future content (not to mention spares you the pressure of coming up with a topic right before a publication deadline).
A content calendar will ensure that your content publication stays consistent and on track.
Are there any special dates for your community? Earth Day, Giving Tuesday, Pride Day… Harness the buzz around dates that matter to your community and plan and create a dedicated content campaign!
A content calendar will also make it easy for you to spot gaps in your content creation. You will be able to more easily see if you’re focusing too much on one topic while neglecting another. Mapping out topics can also inspire other content ideas!
Your content calendar should include the following:
- Publication frequency (how many times a week, month, etc are you going to share content?)
- Content topics
- The assigned owner of each content piece
- Publishing dates
- Content distribution and promotion channels
You can also add in any processes for validating content, plus links to content drafts. Google Sheets is a great place to keep your calendar. It allows multiple people to access it and update it in real-time.
Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Content Creation
If you don’t evaluate your content’s effectiveness, you won’t know its value.
How you evaluate your content will depend on your community’s overall goals. Email open rates? Post engagement? Form completion? Social shares? Whatever your metrics, be sure to evaluate your content efforts at least once a quarter.
Create Content That Will Get Your Community Excited
Get creative. Create content that people will want to consume. Tell your community's story. Pack your communication with passion!
Experiment with different content formats and see what gets the best results from your audience: bite-sized videos, curated content, longer written content formats, punchy Q&As… your imagination is your only limit!
You can also leverage user-generated content. Are your members discussing your latest event, sharing photos, and feedback? Repurpose this content into a blog article.
All in all, the key to success lies in aligning your every piece of content with your overall community strategy as well as creating a well thought out content strategy and well-organized schedule.
Hivebrite is a leading provider of branded community management platforms and helps institutions of all sizes grow and engage their community - Feel free to visit us or request a demo if you would like to know more.