Coming up with a community content strategy can be a daunting task — which is why we like to inject a little fun into the mix.
Over at The Community Club, our community for Community Managers, we think of content created for your community as a snack table. Because, as Community Consultant and prolific snacker Noele Flowers once said, just like a great party, every community needs snacks.
Where do folks hang out at a party if they don't know anyone and aren't quite ready to start any conversations? They hover by the pretzel bowl. Snacking gives you something to do, a reason to hang out — just like great content within a community does.
The snack table at a party serves as a gathering point for people to break the ice, start conversations, and bond over a shared experience. Similarly, valuable content within a community brings people together, sparks discussions, and fosters a sense of belonging.
Don't let your community be that awkward gathering where the only chatter is stilted small talk — make it a place where members want to stay a little longer by keeping the snack table (a.k.a. community content) well-stocked.
Community content is any content created with and/or for community members to provide value for the, and encourage members to stay and participate long-term.
Sure, connecting community members through introductions and tags is great, but that's not what gets people involved. Instead, it's the ‘snack table’ of community resources, events, job postings, conversation starters, AMAs, and expert advice that makes people comfortable enough to start chatting.
‘Content’ isn't just long-form written content — although it is necessary and valuable. Short posts, discussion threads, polls, and Q&As can all be content that fuels your community engagement.
The three main benefits of creating community content include:
Every plan begins with setting some goals. Let's take a look at five steps you can take to build out your community content strategy.
What do you want to achieve through your community content, who is it for, and what do you want your community members and your business to get out of it? Setting out some KPIs is also a great way to measure your success (more on this later).
Your community content plan should answer the following questions:
Why: Why do you want to create for your community (is it to increase engagement or get more members involved?)
What: What kind of content do you want to create (text, videos, polls, audio, or all of the above)?
When: How often do you want to post content in your community? (We’ll dig into this more in step 2.)
Who: Who will be responsible for content creation, publication, and engagement with members when they respond?
Where: Where will this content live? Which channels will you post it too?
Let’s dig a little deeper into that ‘when’.
Simply put, a content cadence is the pattern of your posting. Most thriving communities will have several content cadences stacked on top of each other to cater to the needs of different personas within the community — this could be because they're posting different types of content to various channels.
A rule of thumb: as the cadence gets broader, the level of effort for the team increases. For more frequent cadences, your content will be more spontaneous or developed dynamically based on what's going on within the community.
High-frequency content is a thriving community's bread and butter. This content is relatively low-effort and the most frequently posted in your community. We call this segment ‘daily’ for ease of understanding, but this could also happen every other day, or three times a week.
More often than not, these are engagement prompts such as:
👉 Looking for ideas to level up your engagement? Check out our Community Engagement Playbook
This could take the shape of anything from little rituals (a Monday morning goal-setting thread, for example) to lower-effort events like Q&As or AMAs with experts within your community.
These events don't necessarily need to be live or in a workshop-style video chat. AMAs, in particular, lend themselves to asynchronous conversations.
These can be medium to high-effort events like partner workshops, product feedback groups, or even challenges.
They should provide tangible value to your members and offer an incentive for them to jump in and take part.
👉 Want to host engaging events your community members will love? Check out our 9-step guide to hosting spectacular community events.
These are your show-stoppers.
They can be annual events or content pieces that take serious planning and prep work — things that will likely be months in the making.
Some communities run annual summits, conferences, and in-person meet-ups or publish guides, reports, or eBooks.
The Community Club recently published The Community Engagement Playbook mentioned above with tried-and-tested engagement initiatives by our community members. This Community-Led piece of content was months in the making and became a high-value resource within the community and beyond.
While it may be tempting to wing it once you have your cadence figured out, it's always great to plan ahead.
A content calendar will help you stay on track and accountable — this will ultimately benefit your community, and members will start mirroring the habits you want them to follow when it comes to their involvement in the community. You can use various project management tools to build this, such as Asana, or use a template.
👉 Looking for more tips on building content calendars? Try our self-paced course on Building A Community Content Calendar
These include conversation starters, eBooks, events, AMAs, etc.
Define the ones relevant to your community based on your goals and the value you want to provide. These should be a mixture of low, medium, and high-effort content. For example, daily conversation starters, weekly AMAs, Monthly events, and an annual eBook are a great mix of content that will keep your community engaged and, with any luck, hungry for more.
Make sure you label or color code your content types so they're easy to spot on your calendar.
Start plugging in your annual content types as they take longer to put together. Follow up with your monthly events, then your weekly rituals, and finally, your daily conversation starters.
Actionable tip: Share your calendar with the rest of your team to encourage collaboration with the rest of the company.
Work smarter, not harder! If your company already has content like blogs, courses, or eBooks, you can work with your content team to repurpose this content for your community. Again, this will bring more value to your community members without the community team having to do double the work.
So you've built out your community content, and you think it's great. It probably is (well done you!), but don’t take our word for it. How do you measure if your efforts are actually working?
One of the surest ways to measure success of your community content is to track the engagement on each piece, both internally and externally (if you shared something publicly in the hope of drawing in more members). A simple strategy: at the end of your first month, look back at your calendar and see which daily and weekly content types you published. Then, check on the engagement on each one and mark the ones that had the most or least engagement. This will give you a clearer picture of what's working and what needs improvement.
👉 Check out our course on Building Content Calendars to learn more about how to measure your content’s impact
Checking in every month, quarter, or annually will give you an even better picture of how your community content is growing your community and if your content strategy is working or needs to be revised to better cater to the needs of your community and business.