So… your company (or client) finally entered the 21stcentury and got “on the Facebook” and “started Twittering.” Or maybe in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, reassessed its current goin’-nowhere social media campaign, and decided, “Yeeeah, time for a change.” Most community managers will tell you that the initial jump or reentry into social media on behalf of a brand is kind of like moving to a new town: Fresh start, exciting possibilities, pools of new people to meet, and a weird, driving desire to be accepted, liked, befriended. Most community managers (CMs) will also tell you that ain’t always easy. It’s one thing to be present on the social scene, whether your brand’s channel of choice is Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or a blended strategy spanning multiple platforms. It’s quite another to be accepted, liked, befriended… dare we say… evangelized.
Still, there are brands out there that do it, and they make it look effortless. What’s their secret? The short, Kindergarten Principles 101 answer is this: Sharing. But let’s unpack that. Sharing what? Content. Right. What kind of content? Kickbutt content. Not specific enough. Okay, how about kickbutt content that’s of significant value to the community. Content that accomplishes a task, whether that task is breaking industry news, answering a question, solving a problem, or making a user (nearly) pee his or her pants laughing. CMs who share kickbutt, high quality, super valuable content are embraced and beloved because they’re doing a laudable service for their communities. Let’s take a look at three different types of content you as a community manager can start creating, aggregating, and dishing out pronto. (Because your community is hungry!)
1. Third Party, Non-Competitive, Complimentary Content
Sharing is caring…
Surprise! You can’t just blare blatantly self-promotional content at your community and expect to be part of the in-crowd. Most fans are smart enough to know when they’re being tricked, manipulated, or spoon-fed steaming B.S. one 140-character bite at a time. Blaring blatantly self-promotional material at your community will get you nowhere. It might even cost you street cred. Companies that really rock don’t hock their product 24/7. If you want to rock, ditch the “Try my product!” shtick. Got it? Third-party, non-competitive, complimentary resources, in other words—rockstar content that’s relevant to your target audience. This might seem challenging to community managers working at an agency, who may not speak the language of their client’s niche, or know where to find a steady stream of titillating business buzz. To agency community managers: Content aggregators are your friends. Sites like Buzzfeed and Cracked are more or less Meccas of articles, images and videos pre-vetted for awesomeness, hilarity, and a general propensity to go viral. Alltop is your one-stop shop for pretty much any category of content you can imagine, from Romance Novels to Hip Hop, Data Visualization to Diabetes, Human Rights to Kiteboarding (…WTH is kiteboarding?). Looking for a more tailored pot of content? Create your own Google Dashboard stocked with feeds from your favorite topical sites. Think Reputation Monitoring Dashboard , just replace branded key terms with more general target KWs. Cruise through the dashboard each morning while you sip your latte and pick some choice stuff to share. Additional Perks: This practice will help establish you as an authority in your space (because you’re always sharing the latest & greatest resources! You’re a grade-A go-to!), not to mention keep you fabulously in-the-know on the inner-workings and goings-on in your industry.
2. Conference Coverage
You went to school, right? You know how to take notes. Check out the expos, conventions, and events in your area, then put those transcribing skills to work. Write articles based on the presentations and keynotes you see, the networking shindigs you attend. Share the goods with the community. (Or heck, live-tweet them as they happen!) Members will be grateful for the recap if they weren’t able to attend, and appreciative of your commitment to staying active and engaged to the field. Additional Perks: Think of the new contacts you’ll make! Think of the reputation as a valuable content contributor you’ll establish! Think of all the cool stuff you’ll learn! And the swag, the sweet, sweet swag you’ll acquire! Plus, we all know the real rockstar elbow-rubbin’ happens after work hours. Just sayin’.
3. Branded Content.
What the… how did this make the list?! Okay. We all know at the end of the day, social media efforts are about making money, or in the very least, achieving thoughtfully-established KPIs. Integrated in your sharing of relevant, fascinating third-party content and quality conversations with fans and customers, go ahead and sprinkle in a couple links to branded goods (product pages, press releases, new blog posts, etc.) when it feels natural. Additional Perks: Nods of approval from the boss, familiarizing community with company, and… branding! Important Words of Caution: Don’t overdo it! Think of your content as a nice heap of ground beef. Adopt the 80 / 20 rule: Share 80% non-branded content (that’s your lean, baby!) and 20% of that fatty, albeit necessary, branded stuff. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the best analogy. But you get the picture.