By Joshua Paul
One of the central characteristics of thriving online member or customer communities is that the organizations behind these communities position the communities at the center of an industry or business ecosystem. They find a niche and people who care about those values or market, then create a community around it.
While it is critical to create exclusive content available only to the members of your community, you can’t place your community at the center of your industry or company without pulling in the content of others in your space.
In the first half of this series, we discussed the importance of curated content in your online community and formats that make it easier to get started. The next part of this guide takes you through key steps to create a sustainable content curation program for your private online community.
In order to effectively curate content consistently in your online customer or member community, it’s important to define a few ground rules first.
#1) Make Peace With Going Off The Page
When you compile a list of articles or link to an article in a blog post, you’re inviting your reader to leave your private community. Traditionally, it’s been the accepted practice to keep visitors in your community for as long as possible.
However, content curation is all about sharing. It’s important that your community management team is okay with sharing others’ content and encouraging readers to click through to a website that isn’t yours.
Of course, not all types of media should take your visitors off-page. Embed media like presentations, photos, and videos as appropriate.
#2) What Goes Around Comes Around
If you’re sharing information that’s relevant to your community members, it won’t take long for content producers outside of your community to notice that your community is driving traffic to their websites. As a courtesy, they may start sharing articles and information that link back to your online community.
Content curation provides the opportunity to build relationships with others in your market. This can lead to a strong community and better relationships with all-important influencers.
#3) Identify Trusted Sources of Information
Before you start building lists and gathering articles to post, companies should define parameters for the sources of the information they will curate. Not all sources are created equally, so it’s best to consider credible and unbiased sources.
Additionally, before you share any article in your online customer community, ensure that you’ve read it entirely. While posting a link to an article is hardly an endorsement of its content, it’s important that organizations are able to vouch for its integrity.
#4) Identify Topics and Themes
Limit the information you share to a specific theme or list of topics, so that you don’t get too off-base. To make it easier to identify relevant articles and media that your customers or members would take time out of their busy days to consumer, consider things that will be most useful to your target audience.
#5) Give Credit Where It’s Due
Make it a habit to identify the original source of the content you’re curating. When sharing information in your private online community, reference the account or attribute the author or publication as the source, as well as any community members who may have brought the content to your attention.
#6) Measure Clicks And Monitor Trends
To hone your online community in a way that increasingly provides value to your customers or members, it is important to determine what types of curated content is resonating your target audiences.
Track click-throughs from links shared in your private online community. You can do this using a combination of your online community software and web analytics tools.
Testing, measuring, and adjusting will help you understand what types of content are most relevant and what isn’t, so that you can ensure that the information you’re curating is meeting the needs of your audience.
Bonus Tip: Crowdsourcing Curated Content
Depending on where your customer community is in its lifecycle, your community management team may be able to enlist community members to help them curate content. Start a discussion or idea center where customers or members can add, discuss, and vote on that week’s most helpful content. The winners will be promoted to the entire community or sub-community with attribution to the member who found the piece.
Online Community Content Takeaway
Curated content can plays an important role in helping your create a sustainable online customer or member community. It not only provides clear value to your members, saves them time, and reinforces the habit of visiting your online community frequently, but it also helps your organization mitigate the cost of solely producing original content exclusively for your private online community.