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Publish content that your community will love and you may never be a victim of writer's block again. This sounds like a paradox, but it is the reality of creating a terrific content strategy.
With media consumption on the rise, it's increasingly important to publish stories that are hyper-relevant to your audience. For a community manager, this effectively means creating content about your community. "The best content for an online community is content about the community," Richard Millington explained in his recent Community Management Talk. Your community wants to know about its most popular discussions, trending topics, and influential members. Watch the full presentation on Content and Community below, and read on to discover the key concepts this recording contains.
A community manager is like a brand journalist. She must tell the story of her community, and do it in an organized, consistent manner.
What does terrific content do?
Terrific content increases participation, establishes a social order, fosters sense of community, and creates a narrative for members to follow. Before you dive right in and begin to create an arsenal of content, you must define your writing style. Take on a tone that is compatible with your community's demographic. For example, if you're writing for scientists, you can incorporate a scholarly vernacular. Conversely, if you are managing a community geared to teens, you will want to adopt more laid back lingo. Whichever slant you take, make it dependable.
Soliciting guest contributions
Guess what? All that terrific content doesn't have to be created by the community team. Encouraging contributions from your members will provide them with a sense of influence and remove much of the burden. To facilitate member contributions, set up an email address for members to submit news and opinions. Call them out when their story is published and link back or refer to it when the opportunity arises.
You can generate additional outside interest in your community by inviting more established professionals to contribute their thoughts on a topic, as well. While it stands to reason that members of your community are invested and motivated to share knowledge, subject matter experts can be swayed by the same tenets of social psychology -- the desire for recognition and the opportunity to improve their personal brand. For ideas on how to solicit expert contributions, Richard recommends reading Tim Ferriss' lengthy article How to Hack Kickstarter -- it's full of useful tips that will help you build relationships with influential people.
The end goal
The line between editorial, advertorial and commercial content is thinly drawn, but the end goal of any content strategy remains the same. The posts you write for your community should inform, inspire, delight, entertain, and add value. Keep this top of mind, and your community will show its thanks through higher engagement and increased activity.
For more community management best practices, download half of Buzzing Communities: How to Build Bigger, Better, and More Active Online Communities for free, then thank @RichMillington!
Content and Community is the sixth in a series of Community Management Talks with FeverBee founder Richard Millington, who has spent the last 10 years mastering a range of social sciences, refining key community management skills, learning how to use and apply data, and amassing a collection of case studies to tackle every situation. Richard's previous webinars with Ning cover topics including strategies for generating activity, managing growth, facilitating member engagement, converting newcomers into active members, and the science behind it all. To be alerted of upcoming Community Management Talks, email Allison with the subject line "Add me."