In the second part of our series “Four Steps to Creating Content for your Digital Community,” we’ll be discussing moving past plain, boring text based content, and walking you through the ways you can make your content more engaging. Let’s dive in! [Missed part one? check it out here: Four Steps to Creating Content for your Digital Community – Step 1: Building Your Content Strategy]
Creating content for your digital community requires going beyond text. So, it makes sense that the second step in creating and developing engaging content is going beyond text and kicking your content up a notch by considering podcasts, photographs, videos, webinars and infographics. After all, content isn’t just straight up text on paper or on your computer screen.
Podcasts are digital audio, video files, or recordings, usually part of a themed series which can be downloaded from a website to a media player (like an iPod) or computer. Although video is important, with a podcast you must consider all the places the audience might be accessing the content. For example, the morning commute, work, while working out at the gym etc. Sometimes, video can’t be consumed as easily as audio. Having a podcast is like having your very own radio show. It’s a fantastic opportunity to share audio content with your community.
You may feel that video would be much more appealing. However, consider all the places your community might enjoying accessing your content, like at the office, during their morning commute or while working out at the gym. As wonderful as video content is, there are times that it may not be as easily consumed as audio. Including a podcast as a part of your content is like having your very own radio show. It is a fantastic opportunity to share audio content with your community.
The topics you cover in your podcasts can be as specific as you like or as wide ranging, and there are podcasts for just about every subject under the sun. Therefore, it is important to look for ways to make your podcast unique so it stands out from the rest.
For a few ideas on how wide ranging or niche podcasts can be, check out Chris Penn and John J. Wall’s podcast, “Marketing Over Coffee”, which covers both new and classic marketing, and National Public Radio (NPR) which hosts a variety of podcasts on topics from “Story of the Day” to “How to Do Everything.” There’s also The Moth podcast which features people telling true, engaging, funny, touching and eye-opening stories from their lives. Don’t forget business podcasts as well, such as the BMC podcasts.
Incorporate podcasts into your content by publishing them on your blog or website. You will want to check your blog publishing platform for specific details. You can also check out the Podcasting for Dummies podcast, book or a number of other resource to help get you up and running..
Finally, you can submit your podcasts to a number of podcast directories for wider consumption, but iTunes is the preferred choice for showcasing podcasts.
Photos can be a nice addition and add a little variety and freshness to your content. One great reason to begin using photos as a part of your content is that sharing your photos can help personalize and humanize your business. Photos can help show your community that you are more than just a logo or a product. They can help you express your company’s tone and personality.
Photos with appropriate keywords in the filename (social-media-listening.jpg) can also help your content appear more prominently in search results. And the Facebook algorithm that determines what content shows to your company’s fans has been shown to be very friendly to photos.
If you’re looking for another reason to start adding photos as part of your content mix, consider this, research has found that business-oriented web pages with images performed 91% better than those pages without images.
Your photos don’t have to solely show your product line or be limited to a corporate photo of your team. You can take and share photos from life in the office, volunteer events, holidays, corporate events, trade shows and even the company canoe outing last summer.
If you are concerned about cost, keep in mind your photos do not always have to be professionally taken, which can be helpful in keeping costs down. You may also wish to consider taking photos of people in action, interacting with your brand. Another possibility is having the members of your community do the same by submitting photos with your product. Get creative!
Naturally, you can post your photos to your Facebook page and share them on Twitter – and you should. Attending an industry conference? Post and tag your photos to a photo sharing site like Flickr at the end of each day. But don’t stop there, use fun, photo sharing social networks like Instagram to share your photos as they happen.
Burberry did just that, in real time with the premiere of their Spring/Summer 2012 collection. Calling it “Tweetwalk”, Burberry partnered with Instagram, Twitter and British photographer Mike Kus to share his exclusive images live from the show space. (Additionally, they leveraged Facebook, Chinese social networks, Sina and Yoku, YouTube, and an on demand live stream to distribute their content across the web simultaneously.
Why write a story, when you can show and tell a story? Because 71% of online Americans use video sharing sites (Source: Pew Internet) and according to a 2009 Forester report, your video content is 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of search than text based content.
Focus on the stories you want to share with your community and your consumers and create your own videos. You can use video as a way to spotlight a product, or people in your organization. You can also use video as a way to be more in control of your brand. For example, rather than waiting for the media to interview your company spokesperson, why not create your own video interviews and upload them to video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo? In the process, you will have videos that you can embed in your blog posts, making them easier to share, and save visitors a trip away from your blog to view your content.
Don’t be limited to just spotlighting products or services, though. Use videos to inform and educate as well – perhaps a video tutorial series sharing your industry expertise with your community. Consider a video case study, or sharing a challenge your company faced, how you handled it and what the outcome was can be very powerful.
Webinars are live, online educational presentations during which participating viewers/listeners, typically, can submit questions and comments. Think web-based seminars. Hosting your own is something you should consider as another layer of content. Webinars, unlike many conferences and events, can be both convenient and affordable.
They’re a great way to draw in and connect with your community. Webinars are interactive, unlike an eBook, white paper or even a video. Participants have the ability to ask specific questions, chat with the guests and moderator, and there are no geographical hindrances. There’s certainly no jet lag for traveling to and from a webinar, either. Plus, participants who might feel awkward in a face-to-face setting may feel more comfortable participating from their private location.
Webinars may even snag you some new clients as well. According to a 2009 study by Business.com, 67% of small business decision-makers who use social media for business information seek out relevant webinars or podcasts. With stats like that, why not give webinars a try?
Extending social media reach and thus potentially extending the conversation is a great reason to add them to your content. During a webinar, participants can discuss and share information on other social media platforms like Twitter, using hashtags. This can increase the conversation around your brand and spread key points or take-aways. Plus, after the webinar, upload the information to your SlideShare account, repurpose it as a podcast and write a blog post recap about it. They’re like a gift that keeps on giving.
Infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics present complex information quickly and clearly. When you think infographics, think visual communication. Therefore, if you want to convey information that contains numbers dates, locations, measurements or comparisons, you could probably move away from putting it in writing and format it as an infographic instead.
While this form of visual communication existed before the Internet (when cave walls were the popular medium), they are back in popular demand due to the massive amounts of data circling the web and the shareable nature of social media.
The most successful infographics convey a story with a quick glance or read. Reagan’s PR Daily offers these five tips to help you when creating an infographic:
- Find the most interesting data
- Add scale to your data
- Create Tweetable statements (Highlight this and see what we mean!)
- Find a professional designer
- Make it shareable
Now that we have all these great content options to try out, let’s organize our thoughts a bit. We need to look at what type of content to use and when, both from a high level view at 30,000 feet and a more granular look on the ground. In the next part of our “Four Steps to Creating Content for your Digital Community,” series, we’ll explore ways to create both your content topics, organize them, share them and get people reading and consuming them!
What type of content would you add this this article? Are you using any of these alternative types of content? If so, which ones? Let us know in the comments below and stay tuned for part three “Sharing Content With Your Digital Community.”