Community management is a multifaceted role that is becoming increasingly prevalent as brands strive to engage with consumers online in a personal and authentic way. Managing a community requires an understanding of the brand, the audience, and keen awareness of what people are talking about in the social space. In addition, sharing relevant content with these communities is key to fostering meaningful engagement.
Building a solid content strategy is imperative to creating a vibrant, active community online. The stronger the content you create, the higher levels of engagement a brand will see on its pages. To keep this kind of content and engagement effort organized, community managers develop content strategies and build content calendars. Of course, like online communities, no two content strategies are the same. When working on your next (or perhaps first) content strategy plans, keep these five ideas in mind to develop the most relevant and engaging content.
- Know Your Online Audience
- Establish Your Tone
- Create Content Categories
- Consumers are Key Members of the Community
- Pay Attention
Sure, this seems like a no-brainer, but in order to create relevant messaging to share with your audience, you need to know what matters to them. Community managers spend a great deal of time reading and responding to posts, but going beyond monitoring status threads or tweets to see what the community is discussing is key to understanding the pulse of the audience. If you haven’t tested your current content, I recommend creating a tracker that compiles interactions (reblogs, likes, comments, retweets) to analyze content performance. This will help to identify the topics, trends, or themes that resonate with the community. Take note of recurring questions, topics, or relevant news stories – not just about the brand – and let those cues drive the direction of your content.
Is your brand’s voice friendly and conversational, or does the brand require a more rigid tone? Clearly define the tone of the brand while also considering the tone of the brand’s online audience. This will help craft copy that is aligned with the brand while also driving the overall trust of the brand on the social platform. It’s just as easy to go overboard with cutesy jargon as it is to write in a dry, impersonal tone. Maintaining a consistent voice is critical in establishing a familiar tone among consumers.
Breaking down posts into “content buckets,” – such as promotional, seasonal, advice and questions – helps maintain a consistent and natural flow of content without feeling contrived. Many brands prefer to follow a 70/30 ratio for content; 70% lifestyle content and 30% branded messaging. By breaking content into categories, you can more accurately gauge the balance of content, analyze what performs the best and make changes as needed. This is further enhanced by a calendar with weekly content designations to manage content scheduling, particularly when seasonal or holiday messaging is in the calendar. Keep in mind – communities shift with conversational trends, so make sure the content calendar is flexible.
Creating content that encourages consumers to share photos, videos, or anecdotes not only bolsters engagement, it also gives community managers a wealth of user-generated content to cull through for future content calendars. If you go this route, be sure you have appropriate permissions from the user before using their content. Repurposing user-generated content into a post on Facebook or Twitter is a quick, easy way to make consumers feel special while also giving consumers a more personal connection to the page or Twitter account, which will make them more likely to interact. Incorporating user-generated content into branded messaging is also a savvy tactic if promotional posts don’t typically stir up much interaction in your community.
Don’t fall back on tired clichés, overly cheeky statements, or needlessly wordy statuses. This aligns with identifying a brand voice, but the key to creating a strong content calendar is to think about what experience the community wants or expects. Did your fans coin a fun name for themselves? Has there been a pop culture reference you can appropriately use in content that would be unique? Also, do your homework! Don’t recycle content as communities will notice. (This is where that aforementioned tracker comes in handy. You can easily cross-reference it to ensure fresh content is being served up.)
These are just a few jumping off points to keep in mind when crafting content calendars. Every community has different needs and it’s up to you, the community manager, to act as the content strategist and crank out interesting, appropriate content on a regular basis. What insights or tips would you suggest to others looking to up the ante on content calendars?
Oh… Being in the trenches on a daily basis, and at times around the clock, is no small task, so don’t forget to give the community managers in your life a high five on January 23 for Community Manager Appreciation Day!
Image credit: BobLoco
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