In March 2003, I was hired by the VGA (Virtual Gamers Association) to write content for their site.
The first month was dull. I researched gaming-related news from across the web and compiled it into one place for readers. It was arduous, dull and time-consuming. Few people ever read the content. Nobody replied.
One night, short on content, I reported on a small competition held in one of the gaming centres. The next day, we had 12 comments from the participants. A week later I arranged an event, reported both before and after it, the comments began to flood in.
This content expanded into profiles of the winners, predictions about the results, analysis of the games. We had stumbled upon the secret code of online community content.
The best content for an online community is content about the online community.
Stop copying content from bigger or smaller news sites. Instead, write about what your members are doing. Do round-ups of what they’re doing and refer to members by name.
Try a gossip column about the community. Report on the rivalries, the top debates and make predictions for the future. And if your members aren’t doing much, initiate things for them to do.
The purpose of content is not only to inform. Content about the community helps establish a social order and gives the community a narrative members can follow.
For more tips on engaging your community, read How to Increase Activity in Your Community.