In this week’s edition of Scoop.it’s lean content meetup, we were honored to welcome the the Content & Community Director of UserVoice, Evan Hamilton. A self-described “maker of stuff people like,” Evan makes the community management magic happen for the software-as-a-service provider of customer support tools.
During his talk, Evan answered five important questions that content and community managers often ask. He started off by clarifying that “content” is not just writing; it also includes tweets, photos, and even speaking engagements. From there, he moved into the aforementioned five sections of his talk, recapped here:
1. Why content?
Per Evan, the main purpose of creating and distributing content is to “build trust and loyalty by providing extra value to your consumers.” It’s one of the best ways to be more than just a service provider and to form real relationships with your customers. Further, it’s been scientifically proven that customers who interact with content are more likely to say that their experience with a company is “excellent” rather than “fair” or “good,” with nothing about the product experience changing.
2. What Type of Content Should I Create?
Unfortunately, there is no right answer to this question. No two brands are alike, and for that reason, no two content strategies are either. The best way to figure out what content works for your brand is trial and error. Evan’s best advice is to “move fast, and do things,” because you can never be sure what will stick and what won’t.
For example, a few weeks ago during the SuperBowl, Evan had a spur-of-the-moment content idea that took him approximately ten minutes to create, and it stuck and got a vastly larger number of clicks than he expected. Then, a few days later, he and his team worked on a social campaign including an image and a story that they were extremely proud of, and it hardly took off.
Thinking on your feet and being able to analyze results in real time are the best ways to figure out what type of content you should be creating.
3. How Should I Create and Distribute My Content?
The number one rule of content strategy is to create a content calendar. This involves laying out different categories of content, varying contributors to the content strategy, and most importantly, ensuring consistency in content creation. Evan’s best advice for content calendars? Be ahead, and don’t start until you’re ahead. Plan out your content for at least a few weeks, have it written or created, and then launch your strategy. This way, you will always be able to stay on top of it and ensure that you don’t fall behind or get overwhelmed.
As for distribution, the sad but accurate truth is that content doesn’t just explode on it’s own. A few tips to distribute and market your content:
- Don’t make it spammy. Include the name of your brand once or twice, but make sure it doesn’t sound like you’re trying to sell.
- Make it easy to share. This means including social media sharing widgets, quotable sentences, and - you guessed it - simply asking readers to share.
- Write about others and @mention them when sharing.
4. Getting the Benefits
In order to have successful content and reap the aforementioned benefits, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. First, make sure your readers know that your brand is creating the content, but in a way that isn’t openly promoting your brand. Shameless self promotion is one of the easiest ways to lose the trust of your readers.
Second - and on a related note - don’t try and directly convert the consumers of your content into business. Content is for providing value, and that value in turn should be enough to make your readers want to check out your brand.
Lastly, create a sub-brand if you can. Evan created UserCentered, a blog focused on “people dedicated to keeping their customers (happy).” Following on the previous two points, creating a new brand that isn’t directly related to your business can give you more legitimacy in the content space.
5. What Tips Can you Provide for Content Creation?
- People love stories. Find your current customers or users who are doing great things with your product and tell the tales of their success.
- People love numbers. Provide compelling data to back up your claims.
- Guest posts can be dangerous. Be careful who, if anyone, is going to be writing for you. To avoid a conflict, try interviewing others instead.
- Cheap tricks can work on occasion. Break out that “Top 5” list if you want, but, please, make sure it doesn’t suck.
- Here’s a no-brainer for you - write good content! Put 110% into it or nothing at all. Bad content is worse than no content at all.
- Write content you’d like to refer back to in the future.
Check out Evan’s blog or find him on Twitter if you’d like to ask him any other questions.
Posted by: Ally Greer