A good content strategy can give your online community forum a huge boost and help turn it from an inactive, unengaged community to a thriving and vibrant one. A good content strategy will be carefully planned, well researched and implemented immaculately.
But what exactly is it that makes content good? What does great content really look like?
This blog will provide you with 5 valuable tips to use when crafting your own content strategy, so that your content is engaging and can generate conversation.
1. It Reflects Your Community
How well do you know your community, and the various personas within it?
Good content will provide value to the community; it's therefore important that you know the people in your community so that you can shape your content in a way that that'll resonate with them. Good content will speak volumes to your customers because it'll be written with them in mind.
When writing content for your community, you should always work to ensure that it:
Reflects and embodies your brand personality
Showcases the behaviour and thought leadership that you want your community to be led by
Speaks to the types of people within your community and what drives them to participate
To write content that speaks to your community, you'll have to do some research. Research the kinds of discussions and personalities that exist in your community to determine which angle you should take when looking to create new content and update existing content.
Examine what your community is most passionate about. Identify trends, topics and themes within your community to see what is the most popular type of content. This will certainly require some data collection and analysis. Simply take a look at the numbers—what existing content is doing well, and why?
Another way to learn what's important to your community is connecting with your Super Fans. Super fans are passionate, engaged leaders of your community, online or offline—they might actually know your community better than you do. That's why this is a good place to start; they'll provide you with some valuable community insights and give you some pointers on what type of content is best. Further, if you decided to embark on some community research, such as a survey, your super fans will likely have some ideas for the best types of questions to get the information that you're looking for.
Remember that your community content is not about promoting your company. You’re not selling anything. Rather, you’re creating content that demonstrates your knowledge and expertise. If you do your research properly and produce content that resonates with your customers, your customer experience is likely to improve and your community will be more engaged.
2. It Tells a Story
One of the best ways to write content is by telling a story. People love stories! The key to telling a good story is to connect emotionally with your customers and touch on points that they care about. It's therefore important that you successful embrace Tip #1 above since effective storytelling has to do with knowing what makes your community tick.
Effective storytelling in content involves knowing what customers care about, what their pain points are, and having the ability to transform these ideas into interesting and emotional stories. Of course, interesting doesn’t mean lengthy. You can tell a very compelling story that’s also quite brief.
How you tell the story is key. Visuals are an important part of that. Simple illustrated stories that are targeted can be surprisingly effective. Simplicity can be beautiful, and it’s also a very effective way to interact with your customers.
A good user experience is one that's clean and easy to navigate. Apple, for example, has this down to a science. Every article starts by telling the reader what they'll learn from that article, and it's very easy for the reader to start or join the discussion. Small amounts of simple but targeted and purposeful content is far more useful than churning out content for the sake of content. That, my friends, is something you need to avoid.
3. It Has No Errors
Alright, this one seems like a pretty obvious tip, but it might surprise you at how much content actually contains errors. These errors range from spelling and grammar, to incomplete thoughts or ideas, to information that is blatantly incorrect.
Ultimately, this tip is focused on improving your writing skills in general since effective and valuable content can't be created if you don't know how to write effectively. Some things to keep in mind when you're writing include:
Use the proper pronouns
Use correlative conjunctions correctly
Subjects and verbs must agree
Ensure that all your verbs have the same tense
Use the right prepositions
Avoid illogical comparisons
Make your writing as clear as possible
Make sure you have no double negatives
If you want to learn more about how to improve your writing, check out our blog on 8 Real Tips to Become a Better Writer to learn how you can improve today. These tips are real and practical, none of the "practice makes perfect" nonsense—this blog will give you tips that you can incorporate in your writing to see immediate improvements.
4. It's SEO Friendly
One of the main component of creating effective and valuable content is ensuring that it's SEO friendly. This means that you need to ensure that your content is optimized so that it will be seen favourably by search engines. When your content is seen favourably by search engines (such as Google) your content is more likely to appear higher in the search engine results page (SERP), which means increased visibility.
Unfortunately, you could write the best content in the world, but if no one sees it, then it's virtually useless. When your content is SEO friendly and is more visible, you'll get more traffic.
On-page SEO refers to the practice of optimizing both the content on a web page and the HTML code behind the web page. This is done in order to rank higher on the SERP and therefore generate more traffic to the web page.
There are essentially 9 factors that play a role in on-page SEO, and learning how to optimize these factors can greatly increase the rank of your web page. These 9 factors are:
SEO friendly URL
Keyword choices and placement
Internal/ external links
Image alt text
Off-page SEO refers to the practice of optimizing activities associated with advertising a web page or web site and generating more traffic, mostly done through social media and link building. This is done to rank higher on the SERP.
There are three major factors of off page SEO:
Article Mentions and Guest Blogging
To make your content impactful and valuable, SEO practices are a must. To learn more about these SEO factors, check out our free eBook, The Big Book of SEO.
5. It Encourage Feedback
Last, but certainly not least, creating effective and valuable content doesn't mean pumping out content and never checking to see how it's performing—it means constantly examining the analytics behind your content to assess whether it's performing well or not.
Encouraging and collecting community feedback is therefore key. In fact, 64% of companies state that community feedback has improved their decision making. Gathering feedback can also be done through incorporating a reactions function, or a "thumbs up, thumbs down" function.
Further, feedback can also be unspoken in that numbers speak louder than words. What this means is that you can collect and analyze the data behind your content to get feedback without even having to consult your members. It's likely that your community platform will have an analytics function, where you can measure things such as the page views for your content and the time spent on the page. These metrics, quantitative in nature, will speak volumes about the effectiveness of your content and whether people are finding it valuable.