At Mediaholix, we get very excited when we have "Aha!" moments around Content Strategy, and we know you do too. Whilst participating in an excellent content strategy MOOC on Coursera, we learned some very helpful tips to improve the quality of your audience engagement that we'd like to pass on.
In a Passion Community, people join because it addresses things that speak to their deep needs and ideals. In seeking community, they look to engage and interact with like-minded individuals, as well as hearing new information around this topic.
Conversely, a Trigger Event community forms to support individuals during a life change (for example having children, going through divorce) or social events (such as #blacklivesmatter and #bringbackourgirls) that touch people while they are happening but are bound in a certain point in time.
We'll write more about best practices in Trigger Events in an upcoming blog, but for this article, we'd like to share a great example of a company successfully serving passion communities. The company is computer chip giant Intel, and they have a diverse set of communities employing some very good practices. Let's highlight 3 communities they engage with and then we'll share a "to-do" list that we think any organization could benefit from.
Almost everyone has a deep desire to make the world a better place, but many feel as though a single voice doesn't make a difference. Intel has great resources, a global reach, and a passionate group of employees working in interesting and innovating initiatives. Their blog, website, forum and social media cover many topics and have many passionate followers, putting Intel in a very different conversation than they would have if they only talked publicly about their core business.
In this network, Intel employees from a wide host of specialties bring their expertise and personalities to their posts (and rarely hawk Intel products or technologies... bravo.) They hold an interesting position as many of their technologies are de facto industry standards, where in other areas, they are trying to figure out the wild world of new tech. They share information and solicit input in equal parts. One thing I find interesting is how this forum allows senior managers and also people newer to the industry to have passionate differences of opinions in a respectful setting. (In a nutshell, engineers quite like telling executives that the emperor lacks clothes.)
This group gets to spend Intel's considerable monies investing in up and coming technology and companies. The diverse group of bloggers share the view from their F50 vantage point across a wide range of industries and topics. Again, this helps them show expertise and leadership to people who aren't necessarily interested in the semiconductor business.
Why this works for Intel
Intel, one of the world's top brands, competes with the likes of Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft for thought leadership and consumer affection. While in the past its brand has been built by "outbound" marketing (advertising campaigns and point of sale branding) it realizes that peer recommendation is the new currency in keeping a leadership position. Intel leverages best practices of letting the credibility of their employees (subject matter experts) plus guest bloggers talk directly to customers and other influencers to keep the conversation authentic and to foster lasting relationships.
6 Key Steps You Can Take
Members in a community want 2 main things - a place to keep up on the topic they care deeply about a way to feel like their voices are heard. If you are doing content marketing, you can and should be doing these things.
1. Solicit opinions. Your blogs will share what you believe to be valuable information. Ask your audience to validate that this is so and show them respect and inclusion by actively looking to get their input.
2. Provide a forum. Blog comments, social media conversations, AMAs... use as many forums as you can manage to have as much audience interactivity as you can.
3. Survey often. Challenge your own assumptions by proactively surveying your audience about topics important to you both. Survey Monkey and other tools make it easy to write, administer and analyze.
4. Keep your content fresh and your formats varied. These are table stakes if you want to keep your audience's interests, but worth mentioning. The Intel CSR team uses well produced, shareable videos to highlight the work they are doing in removing conflict minerals from the global supply chain.
5. Provide thought leadership. If you run a successful company - your opinions matter. And when you're at a loss for great insight, get a great guest blogger (the Intel NB team is not shy about this!)
6. Provide multi-screen multimedia. It is a well-proven fact that online audiences will visit your community from a variety of devices. The IT Peer Blog is rife with infographics, the Intel CSR and New Business feature many videos that play well on screens of all sizes.
As content strategists, being able to build and maintain a vibrant passion community should be a key indicator that we are doing our jobs well. If you've read to this point in the blog, we humbly and sincerely ask you to leave a comment below and share a best practice that you've put in place to engage your most passionate followers.
And if you'd enjoy bouncing ideas - one content strategist to another - set up time to chat about what you are considering, no strings attached!
(Enclosed image used with permission from Intel.com CSR blog.)