Every marketer has probably heard of the phrase “content is king” at least once in their life. It was in 1996 when Bill Gates said in an essay that content is where much of the real money will be made on the internet. He predicted everything from the death of print media to the rise in user-generated content sites like online communities.
And he was absolutely right!
Today, online communities are the go-to places for businesses to reach and engage their customers in a non-intrusive, transparent, and conversational way. By creating communities, brands are able to increase customer loyalty, lower support costs, drive engagement on social platforms, and get feedback around new products or strategies.
Central to the success of online communities is, of course, good content. Content marketing is an important part of every community’s engagement strategy. Being a leader in your community, you’re expected to set the tone for how users should interact within it. Members will see what you post and respond accordingly to the types of content you upload.
In order to improve member engagement in your community, you’ll need an organized plan for what types of content you post and how often you do it. This is where having a community content calendar will greatly benefit you.
A content calendar is a written plan of when and where you plan to publish any upcoming content. This allows you to organize your content marketing efforts in a visual manner, as well as schedule any communication campaigns you may have.
Typically, a content calendar includes upcoming posts, status updates, planned promotional activities, partnerships, and updates to existing content. It can be as simple as a grid with a few links, or a custom dashboard that can plan out dozens of feeds — depending on what your brand needs.
By developing a content calendar, you are forced to plan ahead, collaborate with your team, be deliberate, and form the long term content strategy that your brand needs to meet your business goals.
If you’re just blogging or making videos as a hobby, then you probably won’t need a content calendar. But if you’re using content marketing to grow your online community and your business, then staying organized is an important part of this.
Here are 3 big reasons why you should have a community content calendar:
Having a content calendar helps keep everything in order and make sure content-related tasks are actually happening. If you don’t take the time to plan your content in advance, there’s a chance something will fall through the cracks. You’ll publish posts less often. Your ideas will be all over the place. You’ll forget to update existing content.
Members will spot these inconsistencies and possibly even disengage with your community. In a perfect world, your members will create most of the discussions and your community will thrive with user-generated content. But reaching that point takes effort and nurturing on the part of the community managers. You need to start conversations and think of creative ways to empower your users to participate.
With a content calendar, you’ll be forced to collect insights and data, plan your content strategically, publish more often, and be more consistent with your timings.
One of the best things about having a community content calendar is how it lets you see the big picture. It lets you visualize how your content fits with other activities that your community or brand may have.
Are there any holidays that you can leverage on? Are there upcoming company events that you need to consider? How can you use content marketing to promote any projects? These are questions that you get to answer when you have a complete visual of your long-term content strategy for the next few months on a single screen.
This means you won’t miss out on opportunities to get in front of your potential customers with timely content. You’ll be able to produce relevant content that speaks to what’s happening in their world, and build your credibility as a result.
Having a content calendar can also help you moderate the content that you post and make sure they’re effective. By planning ahead, you get the opportunity to see what topics you’ve covered to avoid duplicate efforts, as well as be consistent with your themes. It’s also likely that you have multiple subforums under one community, so make sure you populate them evenly.
When you have a content calendar, you’re not picking topics at random anymore. This means you have more opportunities to to keep your audience engaged. Capitalize on this and take your audience on a journey.
Long before we could even read and write, people told stories. Unsurprisingly, most online users still gravitate towards good storytelling when seeking information. Narrative is a highly engaging, retentive, and meaningful. Using narrative elements in your content can transform a basic post into a captivating read, helping boost the immediate appeal and long-term value of your content.
With your community content calendar, build a plan and a schedule that builds the narrative that you want for your members. For example, if you’re regularly publishing blog articles on a specific subforum in your community, you can create a week-long series of articles to cover multiple areas of a single topic. Not only does this help you produce more content, it also gets your members invested in the story, and introduce the element of suspense in a positive way.
In summary, having a content calendar is critical to your community and your brand’s success. Nowadays, it’s not even optional anymore. It’s something businesses really need to invest time and resources in. At first it may sound like a big commitment, but you can rest assured it will pay back in the future.
For more tips on how to keep your users engaged, read our article on how to build community engagement.