Show and Tell

Share your case study of an online community as tribe from last week’s assignment.

Creating Content

The Role of Social Order in a Community

  • One of the realities of a sizable community is a sort of pecking order.
  • People who contribute more, or undertake noteworthy activities, receive more attention (both positive and negative, perhaps).
  • Others who wish to gain this level of attention–to feel important–are motivated to contribute more.
  • Think about a local newspaper or newscast. Have you ever been mentioned? How did it make you feel? How did others acknowledge this event?
  • Have you not been in the paper/newscast? How could you do something noteworthy enough to get mentioned there?

Content Goals

  • Create a tone and narrative for the community as a whole. A reason for being.
  • Provide a reason for members to visit daily or frequently.
  • Develop a sense of community among members.
  • Establish a social order by highlighting top members.
  • Subtly influence individuals by emphasizing the activities you wish to encourage.
  • Strike the right balance between content and conversation.

Principles of Great Community Content

  • Don’t make the mistake of always looking outside the community to find news and information. Your community members already have access to that.
  • Look instead for stories that they are unlikely to come across. Perhaps you have special access.
  • Look instead for–and create–stories that include members from the community. Mention community members by name.
  • Members will check in every day to see if they or their friends have been mentioned.
  • Or they won’t want to miss out on some tidbit they cannot find elsewhere.
  • All stories inside and outside will be judged by community members according to their impact upon the group.
  • Initiate discussions and activities that forward a community narrative.
  • Use a consistent tone of voice (caring, sardonic, sarcastic, casual, laid back, formal, or a blend of several of these).
  • Use a consistent frequency.
  • Identity specific members and personally ask them to contribute.
  • Encourage people to ask for help. Helpers feel important.

Develop Recognition Criteria

Opportunities to bring attention to individual community members by name. Some communities go so far as to create an award system represented by special titles and graphic images. This is a type of gamification.

  • Excellent contribution
  • Quantity of contributions
  • Veteran members
  • Expertise or contributions in a specific area
  • Newcomers
  • Ad-hoc/compelling circumstances

Content Categories

If you’re every scratching your head for what content to post, you can keep a cheatsheet of content categories. These content pieces can be a mix of moderator-driven or user-generated. Here are some ideas:

  • Community news
  • News round-up of the community’s broader ecosystem
  • Recent events
  • Upcoming events
  • Webinars
  • New member spotlight
  • Highlights of most popular discussions
  • Highlights of member contributions/in-community awards
  • Personal news about individual members: getting married, getting a job, having a baby, etc.
  • Company announcements
  • Highlight industry practices
  • Interviews/ask an expert
  • In-depth analysis on relevant issues
  • Stories about members of the community
  • Surveys/polls
  • Reviews and previews
  • Opinion pieces
  • Gossip (be careful with this)
  • Stunning photos or videos
  • Predictions
  • Competitions with the group
  • Job listings
  • Buying and selling opportunities
  • Statements from within the community out to its larger ecosystem/media

The graph below from Leader Networks show the level of analysis and size of experience for a variety of content types.


Category Repetition

  • To maintain a nice consistent feel to the community, develop repetition in your content. Humans love patterns.
  • You might develop a rotation of content types once a week or once a month, depending upon the size of your community and what kinds of content you’ve chosen to include.
  • When you establish a pattern to your content, members feel a sense of stability. They know how often to check in.
  • And when a special event or exclusive pops up, it stand out because of its difference. Pattern disruption.
  • Content rotation should constantly be measured in terms of member response. Tinker with it to find the right balance, and to respond as the community changes. More about metrics and measurements in a future class.

Creating a Content Calendar

  • Often in large communities, managers will establish a formal content calendar.
  • The calendar may go out as far as several months or a year.
  • The calendar identifies what type of content will be posted on each day of the week, or throughout a month.
  • Sometimes special and specific content types will also be identified on the calendar, such as interviews with industry guests.
  • Content calendars can ramp up to big events by building excitement with related content pieces.

Videos: Coca-Cola Evolves Its Media Content Strategy

How do these concepts affect how Coca-Cola and other run their online communities?

Coca-Cola Content 2020 Part One [7:27]

Coca-Cola Content 2020 Part Two [10:17]

How has Coca-Cola responded to this content directive on their Facebook page?