A thoughtful content strategy can mean the difference between a thriving community of engaged members versus crickets. Communities bring a wealth of benefits to our companies. Sales and marketing, customer service, product development and customer intelligence all benefit from customer communities. Your content strategy may vary depending on who owns your community however the goal of providing an incredibly awesome experience to your community members should not vary. Below in light of a podcast I recently did with Feverbee’s Caty Kobe I have six tips to create a compelling content strategy for your online community.
1. Outline Your Goals for the Community
Do you have a transactional community of one-off interactions or a meaningful community where you’re continually building relationships? Is this a support community where people go to get their problems solved? Is this a community where customers convene around a hobby? Asking what the purpose of the community is will help tell the story of the content. A big part of the content story is understanding the community members. What are they there for? What keeps them up at night? What do they need help with? Earning a following by providing useful content, not just continually selling what you do is a way to earn a growing community.
2. Community managers need to learn how to tell compelling stories.
Storytelling is a powerful way to make a point. Community managers are excellent storytellers because of the visibility they have with customers. Community managers have no shortage of content ideas to draw from considering their role. While topics matter, style and delivery are equally important. Good storytelling doesn’t always mean lengthy. Some of the best storytelling is very succinct. Look at Seth Godin’s blog. He keeps it very brief. A large part of this is how you say whatever it is you’re trying to convey. When you think of customer support messaging you don’t think of inspired and meaningful content. Now we’re seeing a resurgence of simple and image-based storytelling. Stick figures are back. Considering that humans actually learn best via storytelling and visual imagery, customers are flocking to companies that have learned how to trim the complication. There are a lot of ways to make the community members shine through impactful storytelling. Community managers can leverage their knowledge about specific super users in the community to educate others as well as reward and recognize a loyal superuser.
3. An example of a good support community content strategy.
The community’s content should be organized in a way that’s easy for the user to navigate. From a support perspective Apple does a beautiful job of organizing their communities content. The user experience is clean and easy to navigate. In the community at the top of each article Apple tells you exactly what you will learn after reading that article. At the end of the article the user can easily start a community thread about the article. This is a company that values its customers time.
As far as content curation in general less is more. Smaller amounts of purposeful content is preferable to mass amounts of uncategorized content. Everyone needs to slow down and think about what they’re doing for a minute. Many communities could use a lift from an infrastructure perspective. You can serve up the most compelling stories but if the user experience isn’t good, forget about it. Content strategy plays a role in the omni-channel experience. It all comes back to brand consistency in all your content, regardless of channel.
4. Understanding the right kind of content for your community members.
I would recommend a tool that provides key insights into trends in the community. For example at Intel we use Resonata and this way we can recognize themes in the communities, the most popular threads and what are known as initiatives that show how the themes connect to other relevant issues.
You can build a community around your customer’s passions, for example the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series group. They feature events, stories, videos and much more. It’s a very popular place for Red Bull’s adrenaline junkies. They have 170K Facebook fans and 10,000 instagram followers.
Another fun example is Oreo Cookie’s social marketing campaign for their 100th birthday. They created a campaign called the “Oreo daily twist” where 100 pieces of content were created in 100 days. The company would listen every day to what its community’s creative plays on the Oreo cookie. Every day at 6pm the company would choose one piece of content and archive it on the Oreo cookie “online hub.” They came up with some creative PR around it landing them press in essentially every major news outlet and talkshow including Real Time with Bill Maher, Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Colbert Report. It generated 230 million impressions and 430 million views on Facebook. This is a great example of how people want to contribute, have fun and get recognized for that.
You can also do surveys to find out what your customers care about. You might just want to get on the phone with your super users to find out what a sampling of your community values. You will get better information than through a survey and you’re also building relationships with your valuable superusers.
5. Re-imagining content vs. simply recycling it.
Creating new content is important. At the same time some content performs well no matter the season. Community managers can focus on creating evergreen content. They can also be aware of their inventory so they can easily incorporate pieces of older content into new ideas. There are a myriad of ways to repackage content with infographs, slideshare presentations, videos, photos and find ways to cross pollinate them. I would never automatically publish anything.
6. A support community content strategy is different than a marketing community content strategy.
I believe more and more we will see marketing taking cues from support. Marketing will create more how-to content that’s useful rather than traditional advertising. Some of the best content comes out of customer support communities–but it’s not packaged with a bow like it would be in marketing. Therefore marketing and support can work together to take the best of both worlds. It’s great content, wrapped in a bow.
This article was written by Blake Morgan from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.