Content Strategy to Grow Your Online Community
When it comes to engaging online communities, it is essential to deeply understand the underlying reasons that your members congregate. Is your community made up of doctors that are looking for new tools for dentistry? Are they animal lovers and activists that enjoy reading stories about animal adoptions? Are your members realtors that engage with videos that aim to improve sales techniques?
By understanding an underlying goal of your members, you will be able to focus your content in a way that will truly engage your members. Honestly, some of your members may not like the content that you are providing, and that is fine, for there is another community out there that satisfies their interests. With a focused topic, your content can attract and engage your members.
So how do you develop a content strategy that can do just that?
We broke it down into 3 easy steps.
Step 1 Survey
Your online community is the mecca for your content. You can learn from your community and then act on it. You want to address their needs, wants, pain points and more, but how do you truly know what those are. To best figure out what your community will engage with, you should try surveying them instead of just guessing what you think they may be interested in.
Surveying in real life one-on-one is probably the most efficient if your goal is deep understanding. An online survey would be more efficient if your time is limited but are looking for large numbers for data. One-on-one interviewing in real life, or on the phone will allow you to ask follow up questions based on their answers. Being able to read a member's body language or to go deeper into their answers to find the underlying reasons are best attained through in real life interviews. The follow up questions you ask should aim at understanding why a certain type of content attracts a member over other kinds of content.
So take some time out today, or this week to make some phone calls, shoot out some emails, or build an online survey that you can send out to your members. Remember to focus your questions on value, perceived benefits, what they don’t like, and most importantly go deeper to find out the underlying reason why.
Step 2 Test
Once you have surveyed your audience, you are going to have a plethora of information that you can use. The problem here is that none of this information is developed. You have an idea of what some people like, and other idea of what others like, and that leaves you in a spot where you have to make a choice. This is where testing comes into play. Start by writing a few blog posts for each of the two main topics that you discovered. You promote those posts on your blog, and on social media, and see which ones get a better response. Even if one is performing better than another, you still want to create deeper content for both. This is going to test to see if people are just interested in the surface value of the content, or are willing to spend time engaging with the deeper content. This is where we move on to the next step.
Step 3 Dive Deep
Diving deep into processes, systems, tools, strategy are great ways to dig into your insights. Perhaps you can write an ebook on the two topics that you are testing, or record a video training series. By developing another layer of content you will see which topic brings in more engaged users. You must dive deep to test your topics. Just because one topics blog post got 100 likes, and the other got 50 does not mean the one with 100 likes will convert to more engaged users. You must create this deeper content. For all you know the post with 10 likes may drive only 10 people to the video content, while the post with 50 likes drives 25, simply because the content was more focused, and thus more engaging to the audience that it targeted.
Diving deeper into understanding why your audience needs this content will be your key to success when developing your content strategy. Remember to survey along the way , especially at the beginning. After you distribute your ‘deeper’ content, survey the people who engaged with it to get more information about underlying reasons. From surveying, to testing to diving deeper, you will be able to properly evaluate what content is best for your audience.
Learn more about guidelines for online communities and check out our worksheet below.
We created rasa.io because we fundamentally believe that up to now, the approach most associations take to online community building has been far too narrow. Networking, resource sharing, and Q/A are just a part of the online community experience, so we created a platform the puts member engagement where it should be - at the heart of your association’s community.