Content marketing has become a key component for business growth in recent years, and top marketers believe that it will become increasingly more important as businesses aim to build strong brands. Creating content with your unique community is a fantastic way to produce original work with the bonus of a natural channel for distribution. Not sure where to begin? Read along for some ideas, inspiration and pointers. You’ll be sharing stories, building morale, and motivating readers and site visitors in no time.
What Kind of Content Should I Use my Community For?
If you haven’t tapped your community for content before, you may feel unsure about how you might actually use members to highlight your brand or business. The good news is, the options for sharing their stories are so plentiful that you may find yourself overwhelmed with possibility as you dig in! Consider some of these actionable ideas as a starting place:
Ask members to share their favorites: An easy go-to, sourcing favorites or curated picks is a great way to create a unique and compelling roundup that represents the folks who love your business or brand. Get creative with your ask and have fun with it!
Highlight their stories: Featuring people’s stories can take shape in fun ways! You might highlight personal backgrounds, experiences with your product or service, or even anecdotes or micro-interviews about them as individuals. CloudPeeps does a particularly great job with this, regularly sourcing stories (like this post about working remotely during the Holidays) from their quickly growing community of top-notch freelancers.
Demonstrate community expertise: Chances are, you have a handful of community members who consistently go above and beyond; either as a power user or loyal customer. Demonstrating members’ expertise (how they use your product or service) is a great way to give potential community members something to aspire to while reinforcing the awesomeness that you’ve already seen.
Feature thoughts and opinions: Featuring thoughts and opinions, even if they’re not always glowing reviews, is a great way to frame content about product growth and company goals. This authentic angle also offers you an opportunity to show how much you value your customers or users.
How to Collect Stories, Submissions, and More
Collecting insights, stories and submissions from your community needn’t be an art form. In fact, sometimes all it takes is a simple ask. Reach out to your community wherever they are:
- Forums or discussion boards: If your community actively engages in a forum or message board, a new thread can serve as a great place for your request.
- Facebook groups: Similarly, a Facebook group works well for seeking submissions. A simple post with a direct request is often all it takes!
- Email or direct messages: Particularly useful for highly social or distributed communities, direct messages or personal emails can be an easy (and highly personal) way to ask for something specific.
- Social media: A broad or targeted call to action on Twitter or Instagram is a popular and public way to request what you’re seeking.
Compelling Content Comes in Many Forms (and Can Live in Many Places)
Once you’ve compiled and filed all of your great anecdotes, notes, and stories, you’ll be well-equipped to put them together in a beautiful, effective way. With the many forms of media available to you, you’re sure to have fun deciding which format/s to use as the content takes shape:
Visual: If community members shared quality media or imagery of themselves, their lives, or how they use your product or service, share it! Think about a slideshow, a series of social media posts, clever graphics, a photo album, or captioned blog gallery.
Video: Were you able to capture video snippets or speaking testimonials? Consider piecing together a video that captures the spirit of your community and brand. While working at Pearl.com, we commissioned and featured our top professionals in videos -- showing them helping customers with everything from car troubles to computer crashes.
Marketing collateral: Use your community to make your advertisements, brochures, and other collateral feel more real, human, and alive! Incorporate testimonials, thoughts, opinions and notes.
On site: Sprinkle your site and social presence with your community. Share their faces, stories, opinions and more. Let them be the face of your brand -- because truly, they are.
Mix and match formats to create a dynamic, engaging and personal piece of content that really resonates!
Last but Not Least: be Sure to Amplify Content Sharing
Once you’ve put everything together, loop back to let your community members know that they’ve been featured. If you’re sharing your content socially, mention each person who has contributed their time, story, thoughts, or expertise. If you’re featuring customers and users in an email, on site, and in collateral, send them a note with a sneak peek and a thank you. Highlight these people for the rest of the community to see, giving them star status while motivating others to share their opinions, feedback, and ideas next time.
Remember that people are inclined to share pieces of content that showcase something they’ve done or are proud of, and you’ll likely find that the natural distribution from those you’ve opted to feature helps your piece earn additional eyeballs.
Working closely with your community is a special experience -- enjoy it!