Daily Archives: March 4, 2013

The Importance of Creating a Content Calendar

I will admit, I have not been proactive in creating a content calendar. The community I have been managing has been fairly small. They were very much consumers of the information I was spewing out at them, not conversationalists. But as we have started to grow, there is more and more interaction and more of a structure to our community of people. Which means I need to be more organized.

Google Calendars

With growth, I have noticed that I need to spend my time focusing on a lot of things, not just content; Analytics, reports, meetings, etc. Having a content calendar will not only help me keep organized for myself and for my community, but it would also help my coworkers have a better understanding of what my goals are and what I post about on a day to day basis.

But starting to create this calendar hasn’t been easy! The article Content Calendar 101: Tips and Tools, by Shai Coggins of Vervely suggests finding an approach in between being too organized and planning every single Tweet and Facebook post versus flying by the seat of your pants. How can I find that balance between scheduled tweets and making sure my community knows there is someone who is actually monitoring and is there when they need them?

buzzing communitiesRichard Millington, of the book Buzzing Communities, has a helpful chapter about ‘Content’ and how to develop a content calendar. He writes:

“Many community managers fall victim to reactivity. As the community grows, urgent issues increasingly take priority over the community manager’s work. Time spent on initiating activities, building relationships, recruiting members and creating content gradually diminishes in favor of responding to the urgent issues of the day.”

And this is true– it is what I feel like I am experiencing now. I need to develop a content calendar to be of benefit to both me, my community, and my organization.

Here are some of the tips for creating a content calendar I have come across:

  • Choose the categories that you will talk aboutcontent types

By monitoring your community, you will know what kind of content they respond the most to. Is is news? Interviews? Images? User-generated content? Job Postings? You might think your community wants a certain thing, but they will show and tell you by the way they react to what you post.

  • Establish  Intervals (Millington, 103) 

Millington says that your content calendar will repeat its categories at a consistent interval. This can be daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc. Intervals will be entirely based around your organization, there really aren’t any rules on what types of intervals you should establish. However, they should be consistent, otherwise it is confusing for your community. If your audience expects you to post job opportunities once a week on Fridays, keep it that way; your community will then know what to expect.

  • Get Help

It’s okay to ask for help from your coworkers. Maybe other departments in your company keep monthly calendars of events (or for other things such as meetings or interviews) that are going on. Ask if you could be on their distribution list. That way you can pull from what they are already doing so you are in the loop.

Do you keep a content calendar for your community? How did you get it started? What tools do you use? Please share your suggestions on the best ways to start a content calendar and how to keep it updated.

 

“What Is In It For Me?” – Creating An Online Community

community manager orange

We as humans have an age old question – What is in it for me? Let’s face it, we all like to feel part of something. We all like to feel that we are reaching out to others of like mind or interest. Think about the show “CHEERS, where you want to go because everybody knows your name.”  We are motivated by “self interest”, even if all we get out of it is “satisfaction” or a “sense of community”. Other ideas to contemplate while building a community are:

  • ROI – return on investment. How will you know when your time has been well spent?
  • KPI – key performance indicators. Decide what is worth measuring (just because you can measure something doesn’t mean you should).
  • Creating a respectful atmosphere where everyone is treated fairly (inside and outside the community).
  • Choose topics that encourage conversations. You want to get people engaged so they want to return.
  • Take a position on the topics so your community has a base line to start discussions. Make it easy for them to comment.

These are ideas to keep in mind as you start to build an online community. The foundation of your community will be a deciding factor on your success or failure of community development.

community talk

So, let’s take a look at some basics of community building. One of the first things you need to do is to determine what your goals and objectives will be so can create a system to measure your progress. It is imperative to do this early so you can measure every step of the way. Measuring your progress is important for many reasons, but primarily helps you to identify areas of success and opportunity. These goals and objectives should be in line with existing business goals. (Olivier Blanchard gives advice in his book – SOCIAL MEDIA ROI) Check out his infographic here. KPI will help you to track what topics get the most “action”.  See what is shared internally and externally to help choose future content. Rotate these topics in a content calendar with established intervals to keep people interested and talking.

If you plan to work for a company, Blanchard suggests that you create a “Social Media Policy” and a  “Bill of Rights” for employees and external partners that will define the framework of  responsible use of social media. This is an excellent idea! Clear guidelines and transparency will help the community to begin and remain on track. It also helps to protect members of the community by setting guidelines of conduct and creating a respectful atmosphere.

respect-promo-material3

 

One last thing to think about is how you view negative events that will happen. Even the best of community managers will encounter an occasional negative comment. I found an interesting article by Debroah Ng, author of Online Community Management for Dummies, on how to handle negative comments or reviews. She shares 3 main ideas:

  1. Every complaint is an opportunity to improve
  2. Even the most disgruntled person can become an advocate
  3. You can become a case study of how to do things right

You can read the full article here. This is all good news!

 

I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite examples, CHOBANI. They have fun with their community and products, but this site shows that there is something even more important … BENEFITS! The community actually “feeds the needs” of its members! One of the things that Chobani does well is make it clear that there are a whole range of EXPERIENTIAL benefits that come along with membership of their community. How do you see your community growing?

Until next time, “Happy Trails!”