I’m a Community & Content Manager for a content marketing software company. As you might imagine, I spend a lot of my time thinking about communities and well, content.
Content and community management are intrinsically related, and not just because there’s an ampersand between them in my title. In order for content to be truly effective at driving business, it must connect with and serve the community that consumes it.
Unfortunately, many marketers think “serving” the community is like David Byrne serving all these tacos:
As mesmerizing as that image is, we should desire our community’s relationship with our content to be more like David Byrne and this lamp:
The more content reflects or speaks to the needs and concerns of a community, the stronger both become. That’s easy enough to say, but what does it look like in practice? One idea is to actually include your community in your content.
Below I’ll outline a few examples of how to get your community and content in sync.
Members of a dedicated community can help solve some of the most pressing content research challenges organizations face. Ask smart, pointed questions of community members about a topic and use the answers to help guide content themes.
We did this recently at Kapost. Our management team had been fielding questions for a long time about how to hire quality content marketers. We decided to pair our own thoughts on the topic with original research. We emailed a survey to our database, asked questions of our LinkedIn group, and posted questions on social. The resulting answers, combined with interviews of industry experts became The Content Marketing Hiring Handbook.
The resulting campaign was not only a huge traffic and lead driver for us but also helped boost our reputation as the go-to source for content on hiring people who can well…create content. We’ve continued to create related content with similar results. This content was not just community inspired and community focused, but was full of community contributions as well.
The Shout Out
This one’s quite an easy one accomplish, and can be done in a variety of creative ways. Essentially you create a blog post, SlideShare, video or social campaign where you specifically call individuals or companies out, often featuring direct quotes or comments.
Mention just recently did this with their post 8 Ways Experienced Marketers & Entrepreneurs Leverage Social Listening and had tweetable quotes.
Uberflip called out some of their favorite community managers and created a custom graphic with characters to represent them.
SproutSocial also gave some love to community managers (who happen to also be their target market) by creating their #CMFieldGuide campaign, which profiles a variety of community managers, and lives on both their website and a Pinterest board.
Vidyard asked a bunch of marketers to share tips on Twitter using the hashtag #mktgstory and then turned responses into a creative SlideShare.
This works very well because it’s easy to produce and people love to share their expertise, and for some it’s even a Once In A Lifetime chance to feel like a celebrity. We’ve found these to be easy engagement-and-traffic driving posts.
Both of the examples above work as occasional pieces to mix in your overall content creation efforts. But how do you keep a community engaged with content on a regular basis? You can’t do a big research piece every day, and the shoutouts would lose their luster if you did them all the time. It is possible to create ongoing content that weaves into your community work, however.
The best way to do this is to develop a community forum – a dedicated place where customers, prospects and/or industry members can interact with you and each other frequently. Some great examples including Eloqua’s Topliners community where marketers (Eloqua clients or not) can talk about Eloqua specific topics, or wider marketing automation or general marketing issues. It’s become a great place for problem solving and give Eloqua a clear view into what their customers’ questions and needs are, and is frequently referenced throughout Eloqua’s various marketing efforts.
The Kapost team has seen success with the Content Marketing Academy group on LinkedIn. The group is highly curated to ensure group members are professionals, dedicated to discussing content marketing ideas and challenges with each other. The Kapost Content Team regularly participates in discussions in the group, commenting on pre-existing questions, and asking original ones.
These conversations regularly inform Kapost blog posts, as the Content Team either answers questions through those blog posts, or seeks to stir up wider attention to a topic. This kind of community-generated content is a top traffic-driver to Kapost’s blog and website, as well as a reliable source for lead generation.
These are just a few examples of how a community can help refine and in some cases, even drive content creation efforts. Sourcing ideas from others beyond the walls of your organization’s marketing department can help make the content much more relevant to the audience consuming it.
And hopefully help you avoid the Psycho Killers. Okay, that one was a reach.
What other examples have you seen of community inspiring content, or visa versa?
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