Content Creation vs. Community Curation
We’ve all heard the phrase, “If you build it, they will come.” I think that’s supposed to refer to a baseball field—why? I’m not totally sure – but I do know that many people tend to think about developing their online presence that way.
The thought is that if you build an impressive online presence, your audience will eventually just show up. Sorry to burst your bubble (and a dream in a movie I don’t think I’ve actually seen), but I’m here to tell you that just isn’t true.
You see, though similar in alliteration, content creation and community curation are two entirely different things. The first refers to the things you make. The second refers to the people you gather.
Recently, I’ve had a lot of people ask me about “how to market yourself.” There are many amazing books on marketing that will teach you how to craft the perfect story that resonates with your audience, compelling them to engage with your services or product. That’s both helpful and necessary if you want your marketing to succeed, but it will only take you halfway. The trouble is, after you’ve crafted that perfect content, you need to get it in front of people.
That’s where people get stuck.
When it comes to marketing, content creation is only one side of the coin. The other side is community. Think of community as the pied piper to your campaign, the call-out to the masses, the invitation that gathers people to your doorstep ready to consume your content. Without community, content, pretty as it may be, sits lifeless in a lonely corner. You must do more than build it for the people to come. You have to engage with them individually and reach out to them personally to curate a community of consumers of your content. After all, what is a photograph, but to be viewed? A piece of music, but to be heard? Or a poem, but to be understood? Without an active community of viewers and listeners, your content is dead.
So, if the key to getting your community to show up isn’t through content creation, how do we get them to come? The secret is interaction. I know you’ve heard it said before – it’s all about engagement.
Do you think you would ever make friends with people if you didn’t talk to them? Where else, in the history of relationship, has a one-sided conversation ever worked to foster community?
True community is two-sided. It’s as much about listening as it is about speaking. And when we say speaking, what we really mean is responding. Your content is your voice, but how are you inviting others to respond and most importantly, what are you doing to listen?
It may be beautiful pictures that first catch your audience’s eye and draw them to your brand (and don’t get me wrong, this is a very important first step—kind of the whole reason Worthwhile Media exists), but it is your engagement with them that will keep them there. If you still need help with content creation, be sure to check out our Content Creation Guide here, but if your content is already on point and you’re ready to start building that community, check out the helpful tips below.
Ok, I know I said this wasn’t about content, but I can’t start a list like this without pointing out the obvious. If your content isn’t any good, then no one is going to stick around to see what you have to say next. Assuming everyone already has great content, let’s move on.
Search far and wide for community members. Be proactive about finding people in their own space. Practically speaking, this may be searching specific hashtags to find others interested in your content. Figure out where they hang out and the conversations they’re already engaged in. When you add to those conversations, others will be more interested in what you have to say on your own platform.
Once you find people, be quiet and listen. Take time to view and read their content. Don’t interrupt, pay attention, and then add value to the conversation when it’s your turn. Don’t talk over others and don’t change the subject abruptly. Nobody likes that guy at the party. Instead, provide insight and value to the conversation already at hand.
To begin, start by liking and commenting on their stories, bringing value to the conversation. If your comments provide value to others on their platform, chances are they’ll be interested in what you have to say on yours. Let them know who you are by engaging with them in their space first.
Once you’ve done the work and met some people, invite them over to your space. Give them a reason to come. Sponsor a giveaway or hold a special event, the possibilities are endless, just make it unique to you. When they do pop over, remember that people don’t feel comfortable in a stranger’s house, so make sure your audience knows who you are the moment they land in your online space. Use the energy and momentum from the party to keep the conversation going.
If you can help your community reach their goals, overcome their obstacles, and solve their problems, I can almost guarantee they’ll stick around. Every great leader is a problem solver, and people follow leaders with solutions. Take the time to understand the struggles your community faces (go back to number 3 and do some more listening) and then work hard to figure out how you can help.
Always be on the giving side of things. Let’s be honest here. If you are reading this post, chances are you have something to sell, but if it’s community you want, that selling needs to take a back seat to your gifting. Eventually, your supporters will want to give back for all that you’ve given them, and they’ll become natural brand ambassadors for your products or services. But to create that loyalty, you need to adopt a stance of giving. Give freely of your expertise, offer your resources and advice. Make it a goal to give more to your community than you receive.
Don’t speak at people, speak with them. Consider every post you make a two-way conversation. Leave room for response in the form of open-ended questions or call-outs for other’s thoughts. Your community is a great place to get feedback on your products and services. As much as possible, include your community in the conversation.
These are the natural social butterflies that draw others to them wherever they go. These are the people you want to be sure to keep on your team as they have the potential to help you grow your community in significant ways. Invite them to collaborate with you on special projects. Ask them to help you moderate your community. Give them space on your platform where they will be sure to provide value and attract others to your community. They are your future brand ambassadors.
And this is where it comes full circle, back to content. Give them a reason to stay with consistent, compelling content. If the community part feels easy, but you struggle to produce content on a regular basis, be sure to check out our Content Creation Guide or comment below with what has you stuck. We’d love to help where we can!