Building a community for your online business is crucial. And if you’ve been around for a while, you probably have started building your audience. But, for your community to be engaged and effective, you have to know how to engage and run it. You also need a good content strategy for your online community.
There are many different parts to crafting an efficient content strategy that will help your community engage with you and your business.
We’re sharing six key component for creating an iron-clad content strategy for your online community. Trust us, these will save you time and make community management more manageable.
Key components of an online community content strategy
1. Set goals
You likely already know building a community is important. But, it’s especially valuable for online course creators and entrepreneurs. Students are looking to connect to the creators and brands they’re shopping. One of the easiest ways to stand out from your competition is by creating a strong community.
Online entrepreneur, podcaster, and marketing educator Pat Flynn has attributed a lot of his success to his ability to build relationships with his audience.
“The fact that I could (and often did) build a relationship with my customers was my unfair advantage over my biggest competitors,” Pat shares.
Identify your community
However, before you build relationships and foster sense of community, you have to evaluate your business and identify what your goals are for your community. What will be the purpose of your community? To sell more products or to raise brand awareness? How do you want your community to operate? What do you imagine your community will be like in two or three years?
Identifying the goal and purpose of your community will allow you to create a content strategy for your online community that will deliver better results.
Basically, when you know what you want and where you’re going, you’ll be able to better know what steps you need to take and what content to create for your audience.
2. Know your audience
One of the first things you do as an entrepreneur is to determine your target audience and your “ideal” customer. You’ll use that knowledge again (and deepen it) to determine what your community wants to see from your online community.
Study their behavior online, what they’re saying and what they’re asking on social media. Identify their issues, struggles, and needs and use this knowledge to form a content strategy that would bring value to them. Look at how they phrase their questions and what language they use.
In his book Superfans, Pat stresses the importance of understanding the language of your people.
“When you can learn the language of your audience, you can more easily make a connection with them, and ultimately they begin to trust you more,” he writes.
It’s a small detail, but it can make a significant difference in the way you connect with your audience and how they respond to you.
Appeal broadly, think locally
Another detail that can help you understand your audience is to identify a personal connection—even if it’s one not necessarily related to the subject of your product or course directly. The way you connect with friends and family in real life—by sharing favorite foods, books, or tastes in music—are the same ways you can connect with your audience.
Podcaster and marketing expert Jenna Kutcher believes in getting to know your audience by finding a thing they can connect with:
“If you’re looking for new ways to add value into your feed without seeming super off-brand or like you’re trying too hard, then I have a few simple tricks. Look at sharing value in terms of sharing things that are important or special to you, things that not everyone knows, or by sharing things that have been helpful or impactful for you.” —Goal Digger Podcast, Ep. 450
So, spend some time not only looking for value you can provide to your audience, but also paying attention to their “language” and find something personable you can share with your community.
3. Create a content calendar
A content calendar is a tool almost all creatives use. It helps to plan better, stay organized, and be consistent with your content efforts—whether they’re on social media, a blog, a podcast, etc.
Once you have set goals for your community and get to know your audience better, your next step should be to create a calendar with all the pieces of content you want to post. This will be instrumental for creating content for your online community.
Your content calendar doesn’t have to be complicated or very extravagant. A simple Google Sheet with a weekly or monthly overview works perfectly fine. The goal here is to have a place where you can plan and put all of your content ideas.
By having a content calendar, you can be more strategic about your approach to your community. You can create themes for certain days of the week that will make your content creation easier.
It will also allow you to prepare in advance. You can plan a month in advance and then dedicate one day a month to prepare and create content for your community. (In the creative field, this is called batching content. You can read more about the benefits of this strategy here.)
4. Repurpose old content
Unless you have a team behind you or a dedicated community manager, you may find managing a community full time is a challenge.
Creating content takes a lot of time. So, you want to be smart about your time and resources as an online entrepreneur. You may have social media channels to update, a newsletter to schedule, clients to meet with, and likely a course to run.
“So many content creators hold themselves to the impossible standard of creating brand new content each and every time,” explains Jenna. “But it just isn’t sustainable for the long run. Return to what’s worked before and reframe it in a fresh way. You’ll feel way less frazzled about content creation, and your audience will know what topics to turn to you for!”
Your content, new ways
Content repurposing is a great way to save time and mental energy. You won’t have to come up with new topics and content every single time you post. Consider revisiting old blog posts that perform well, social posts your audience loves, or course content that’s popular as a content source for your community.
The large majority of your audience won’t be following you on every platform. So, repurposing content will give more longevity to your content. And, for the small part of your community who follow you on all channels, repurposed content will be a great way to deepen their knowledge and make sure they retain your message.
You also have to keep in mind that different people consume content differently. So, let’s say someone skipped reading your blog post because they don’t like long-form content. If you repurpose that blog post into a Facebook Live discussion or a podcast episode that you share with your community, then people have more ways to consume the information. Remember: Learning styles are not the same for all students.
Ultimately, content repurposing is the best way to stay consistent while still providing value and engaging with your community.
5. Tap into user-generated content
User-generated content is also a great way to enhance your community strategy. It helps with content creation from your side, as you don’t have to create as much content on your own.
It also builds a relationship with your community and allows them to feel seen. What’s more, it allows you to show that you care about your community.
A beautiful example
Beauty brand Glossier is a great example of how a brand can use user-generated content efficiently.
Glossier love to include their online social community in as much content as possible. And, one of the ways they accomplish this is to prompt customers to share pictures with the products they use. Glossier then showcases those pictures on their Instagram page.
Essentially, they treat their customers like influencers. And, by sharing their customer’s posts, they let their community know that they see them and care about their experiences. It also creates a community full of brand ambassadors willing to promote and recommend their products.
And, according to CB Insights, this approach works: Over 70% of Glossier sales come in from referrals. It’s all thanks to their strong community bonds.
So, the takeaway here? Show your community members (who are presumably students and customers) that you “see” them. Find a way to incorporate your community members’ experiences and share their content as part of your content strategy. Invite members to engage while you’re on a Live, share a community member’s win, or send them a personal shoutout.
Alternatively, you can share testimonials, ideas, or “case studies” from your community members who are using your products and taking your course on your sales page. There are many different ways to incorporate your community within your content strategy.
6. Show up—every day
But, the most important component of any content or marketing strategy is consistency. Staying consistent with your marketing efforts, engaging with your community, and showing up daily to build relationships is the number one thing that determines your success. Your online community is showing up and giving you their time and energy.
Jenna believes that consistency is the thing that builds trust, sharing:
“This is one of the ways to be seen as reliable and build a relationship of trust. In staying consistent, you’re helping your followers create habits that include the consumption of your content, and you’re showing your audience that you are dependable and that they can trust you.”
People are looking for brands and businesses they can trust when they spend money. And for many creators, an online community is a way to foster that relationship with already paying students to convert them into lifetime buyers. So, the best way to do that? Be there and serve your community on a consistent basis.
Bottom line: Preparation is the key to staying consistent without burning out.