In a perfect world, your community will be constantly active. You'll have several user-generated content every minute, and all of your community members participate in discussions. But we all know this isn't always the case.
Like with anything else, communities need a lot of nurturing and tending. Sometimes, you will need to come up with creative ways to engage those members who don't naturally fit in or feel confident starting conversations. It definitely takes time and hard work, but the rewards of connecting with your members and enabling better experiences are worth it!
As a leader in your community, you're expected to set the tone for everyone. Your members will see what kind of content you post and respond to these accordingly. Therefore, it's your job to have a system in place to make sure you're giving your members something to work with. It's your responsibility to continuously show your members how to interact within the community, and give them a reason to keep coming back.
This is where your content calendar comes in.
In our last article, we talked about the benefits of having a community content calendar. Now it's time to learn how exactly to create one.
One of the biggest roadblocks to creating a community content calendar is knowing what to post. Naturally, it can be very overwhelming to come up with enough ideas to fill an entire calendar. On top of that, you actually need to have it ready months ahead of time.
Here are a few strategies you can use to make sure you don't run out of things to talk about:
While you can and should leverage on this, don’t completely rely on exciting things happening around you to dictate when and what you post. Instead, focus on planning content more strategically. There will be some lull moments, but it’s important not to let this keep you from staying active.
Most importantly, you have to always ask yourself: What do my community members want? It's important to create content that's tailor-fit for your audience so you don't miss on engaging the right people. Here are some content types you may want to consider:
Once you have an idea of the content that you want, it’s now time to create a posting schedule. The goal of having a community content calendar is to keep everything in order and make sure content-related tasks are actually happening.
If you're smart, you'll want to take a look at your previous posts and take note of what works for your audience. Which posts performed well? What days and times did you get the most interaction from? What topics do your audience engage with the most? These are just some of the questions you should consider when taking a look at your data. Developing a clear picture of your current efforts will help you fine-tune your content strategy and determine the best way to increase levels of engagement with your audience.
Apart from that, it's also important to do research on best practices. There’s a lot of competing information on when and how often you should post. Some professionals recommend posting as regularly as possible to stay top of mind. Others suggest only posting if you have high quality and valuable information to add to the conversation.
For online communities specifically, this will depend on your content strategy and the development stage of your community. New and small communities suffer from lack of content. Established communities, on the other hand, suffer from lack of engagement. Users sign-up expecting to join meaningful discussions, but that's hard to create in low populated and disengaged groups.
For small communities that are just starting out, content seeding should be high. Your members are still testing out the ropes and are not entirely sure what to do in your platform yet. Help ease them into the community by setting the tone and making sure there's enough content to interact with.
For more established communities, you'll likely have more user-generated content, especially from loyal brand ambassadors, so you can have a more relaxed posting schedule. This doesn't mean you should stop posting altogether though. Posting frequently is a great way to try to stay in front of your audience and create meaningful relationships with your customers.
Here are some elements that should be present in your content calendar:
Your community content calendar is more than just a planning tool. It's a way to track and measure different campaigns. When your content is performing well, don't be afraid to save it or even reintroduce it again in the future.
But beyond that, make sure you analyze information from these campaigns, and continue to optimize your future content and schedule. The best way to arrive at the most optimal publishing frequency for your community is by reviewing your audience insights. You need to continuously gather data around the types of content that you're producing, and see how each one helps you achieve your community goals. The metrics for your online community will help you filter out non-performing content formats.
As a marketer, your time is very valuable. Spend it wisely with a well-planned community content calendar that lets you focus on other aspects of your overall marketing strategy, as well as engage your community better.
Of course, generating content is one thing, but managing it is another. It's good to have a lot of user-generated content, but it's also important to recognize the risks that can come with that. Protect your members from any abuse that may happen online by reading our tips on how to keep your community safe.