Higher Logic Blog

5 Key Elements of a Great Online Community Content Plan

Written by Joshua Paul | July 22, 2011 at 5:35 PM

I firmly believe that online communities are all about people. However, people are busy and they care more about your own families, organization, and job than they do about your company, associations, or cause. This is where content enters the picture. Creating helpful, original content that your audience can't get anywhere else gives your customers or members a reason to visit your online community.

As a result, your online community content plan plays a vital role in your community's success. It is important to know your audience and thoughtfully lay out your editorial calendar to develop a sustainable and engaging content strategy.

Here are 5 key elements that your online community content strategy should include:

Key Element #1) Real Dates.

Create an online community content plan that covers at least 3 months. Many of the daily activities may be repetitious, but planning this far gives you some wiggle room if your community management team gets busy with other projects. Your content plan is a living document and can be modified.

Key Element #2) Prioritization.

Sometimes, you'll have several pieces of content scheduled to be posted on the same day. Often one is dependent on another. For instance, an email to a certain customer segment may be dependent on an article. In order for the customer experience that you are trying to provide to work, your blog article has to be live before your email goes out. Creating an order column in your online community content plan allows even new employees to know which content need to be published first, second, and third on a given day.

Key Element #3) Type of Content.

Adding a column for the type of content (e.g. blog post, email, video) helps you make sure that the most appropriate content format is being distributed to the audience that will be most likely to respond to it. It also ensures that you are not oversaturating your any one audience with one type of content.

Key Element #4) Categories.

Labeling each item of content with a category or department helps community managers create a content plan that spreads the creation of content across the organization as evenly as possible. Burdening one group too heavily with the responsibility to create content will create unbalance in both your online community management strategy and the content that your customers or community members are receiving. 

Key Element #5) Content Owner.

This does not refer to who is going to create the content. The content owner column in your online community content plan refers to the person who is accountable for submitting the content to the community manage for review and publishing. For example, if your plan calls for a blog on upcoming improvements to customer service, the content owner may be the VP of Customer Support, though a Customer Care Manager may be the one who actually write the post.

Which element of an online community content plan do you find most important? Add you thoughts in the comments below.