Creating a Successful Content Strategy for Your Community

Updated: Sep 2

There are a few things that are essential to create and run a successful community, one of these essentials is planning and executing a well thought through content strategy. Your content helps you drive conversation and create a buzzing community that can benefit your organization in various aspect, including marketing, sales and direct members (and the community as whole) towards reaching the community goals.

Creating and executing a content strategy can be laboursome and quite extensive, but it helps you create structure to a an otherwise quite chaotic process by organizing specific goals, success metrics and a process for continuous improvement. The following article is aimed at explaining the important aspect in enough detail to set you up for success. So, grab a “cuppa” and get stuck in. If you feel like you don’t need an explanation of every aspect you can jump to the part most relevant to you based on the topics:

  1. Creating a content strategy: Define your content objectives based on your community members (target audience).

  2. Content Calendar: Using content categories and calendar to plan and create content.

  3. Measure performance and adapt.

1 - Content strategy

A meaningful content strategy may vary across communities; however, it should always reach towards yielding an engaging and fun experience for all community members. But why meaningful? Simply put, if the content you create have little or no value to the members it won’t be used or read, this results in an idle community which is the opposite of what you want. It is therefore extremely important that all content you create and show in your community is relevant to the users, but also relevant to the organizations/community’s goals, it is in this intersection that value and meaningful engagement is fostered through valuable community content.

Knowing your audience

If you ever take a course on content creating (for any media form) or marketing you will more than likely encounter the essential of “Knowing your audience”. In order to manufacture content that is relevant for the organization as well as community members you need to understand what makes your members tick, what they like, who they are and why they are in your community in the first place. Hence your first step in creating a content strategy is to answer these questions: (1) Who is my target audience? (2) Why are they a member of this specific community? (3) What do they talk about? (4) To whom do they talk? (5) What are their interests? For some tools to aid you in figuring out your target audience look to for example Google Trends, Google Analytics, Competition analysis, Surveys and FAQs. One or a combination of these tools should give you enough information to infer what your target audience is and how you can best reach them with focused content.

Organizational/Community interest

Figuring out what kind of content do you, as an organization or community, want to promote is imperative to finding the intersection between what you want and what your audience wants. Lay out the topics that can be fruitful to you as an organization, determine which topics you can proudly stand behind and which topics you do not want to discuss in the company. Knowing both makes it easier for you to create content aligned to your values as well as get rid of content that do not fit your image. It can be helpful to write down 5 things for each category (to be included/not to be included) to have a clear view.

Aligning content with community objectives

Once you have defined what your target audience is and wants, as well as what content is relevant for the organization/community it is time to start thinking of content that encompass both of these aspects and align with the overall community goals and objectives. If you have not set clear community objectives yet then the OGSM approach can be a helpful tool to help you do so. Find a more detailed explanation of the OGSM approach here (and picture below) or other goalsetting frameworks here. Once the community objectives have been defined it’s time to move on to making content categories. These categories help you to stay focused and aligned towards the community objectives. One way of illustrating this to your team to make sure they stay on track is a content pyramid (picture below), with the main objectives/goals up top and then content categories aligning with these goals aa well as a narrative for each category. Forming a narrative or main story line to each of your categories will inform you about which approach to take towards each piece of content, but also keep you aligned with the main community objective.

While creating your categories there are a couple of things to keep in mind, (1) avoid overlapping categories, you need to be able to clearly differentiate which category a content piece belongs under to promote clarity. (2) Start small with 3-5 categories to begin with, this helps you maintain a consistent voice across categories. These categories can grow in number, size and even be broken down into more specific categories as your content library grows and your voice is crystal clear. (3) Do not confuse topics with categories, categories are broad and encompasses various topics within itself, while topics on the other hand are more specific and can be exhausted after 10-15 content pieces. That being said, make certain that you are aligning the topics within each category with the community goals and tone of voice of the organizations/community.

2 – Content calendar

When you have decided on what type of content you want to make to bring value to your community’s members as well as for your organization/community itself it is time to start thinking about when and how often to post. To ensure the quality and continuous flow of content in your platform a content calendar is a great tool for creating an overview of the process. The plan also gives an overview to ensure variety in your content, it keeps track of what has been posted when and what is next, this ensures that you don’t repeat yourself. This can easily be done by using for example excel or another tool that allows you to filter based on the values for a variable. Filtering helps you see which topics are over or under represented and to help you guide you in having a good rhythm to your posting.

A good content calendar (often combined with a social media calendar) include the type of content that is to be posted. The deadline of the post, who is responsible/creating the content piece, category (helps you detect if some are more represented than others), the topic, the title, visual materials (if you have any), and a publication marker (for example: “work in progress”/ “Ready to publish”/ “Published”) for each channel you are planning on posting your content piece. See an example of a content plan below (bear in mind that the plan has been adapted based on a plan in coordination with a marketing campaign, hence you will see that most of the planned posts were marked as the same category, mentoring, and therefore little variety of categories is displayed).

When you plan out the content you want to make, be aware that some content types work better for a certain audience and certain stages in your journey. To manage this until you know what works best for your organization is to diversify your content formats to appeal to various members or your target audience in different ways. Diversifying your content types does not mean you have to implement every type of content out there, but choose some and focus on the types that resonate with your organization, your goals and audience. Additionally, being aware of and using various content types blazes the way to repurposing your content and appealing to new set of receivers in your audience, just because something is posted in different formats. You can for example turn an article into a podcast, video or infographic. Or maybe changing a long blog post into a mini series of shorter pieces, audio or maybe a bunch of informational pictures for social media, let your imagination run free and see what you can come up with.

Some examples of content types:

3 – Measure performance

Creating and posting content is only part of a content strategy. Analysing your content performance is the best way to ensure that you are staying on track, supporting the community goals and objectives, and to understand what connects with your audience and what makes them engage with your platform. Measuring content performance means different KPIs dependent on the type of content you are working with. For example, the effectiveness of a social media post or video could be assessed using shares, likes, comments, watch time and so on, while a blogpost might be more reliably measured using webpage visitors, referral(/shares) traffic and time spent on the piece and comments. Choosing what to measure is also dependent on the platforms you use to post your content and the types of measures these platforms affords.

In general, however, there are four aspect you definitely will want to measure (if applicable to your situation) to determine how your content is doing, although the measures and KPIs looks different for various types of content. These aspects are (1) user behaviour, (2) engagement (3) SEO outcomes, and (4) company revenue and allow you to track which channels are performing the best as well as which type of content and which content categories are the most beneficial and useful to the community/organization. What are people actually reading? What do they talk about? How often do they comment on or share something? All of this can help you see which aspects you need to highlight and which topics are not so relevant to your receiver as you thought they might be.

But how do you measure content you may ask? (1) Start with setting up your analytics, use tools like Google Analytics (or similar). (2) Always, and I mean always, refer back to your high-level goals. (3) Set specific KPIs for every content piece and measure them regularly.

When you have an overview of how your content is doing, take the opportunity to use the information to prune your content library, improve your SEO and content pieces based on what your consumers crave, and change your content plan accordingly. Maybe you figure out that one of your content categories needs to change or maybe the times you post have an impact on how many takes the time to read the content. Do not be afraid to change based on your numbers, it helps you drive progress.

Now that we have walked through the journey of making and exciting a content strategy for your community you hopefully feel more prepared to do I yourself. The core ideas boil down to making sure you know who you are talking to, what you want to say to these people, plan for timely delivery of the content pieces you make, and how to measure the effectiveness of them so that you can adapt based on what is working and what is not. Remember there is no shame in changing a strategy that does not work for you and your community. Let us know if this article was helpful for you and good luck with your own content strategy.

Author: Mathilde Bastiansen

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