Higher Logic Blog

3 Easy Ways to Create Content for Your Online Community

Written by Katie Bapple | October 16, 2014 at 1:26 PM

Let's face it, sometimes brainstorming new content for your online community can feel like an absolute chore. Over time, not only is it easy to run dry on new, genius-invoking ideas, but finding the required time each day to produce both thoughtful and thought-provoking material  in mass can start to feel like your boss handed you a Sharpie and asked you to recreate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in their office. Impossible.

Content creation doesn't have to weigh down your day. In fact, once you measure the results of your efforts, it can't be quite rewarding. The solution is never to cut down on the volume of content you create to offset the agony, but rather to simplify the process. Yes, creating content can be simple!

Here are three easy ways to revive your content plan:

#1) Join Related Communities

Topically-related forums in other online communities provide a great option for scouting out new content.

Most online forums readily display total views and replies for each thread, making it extremely simple to target popular content. Just be sure to scan through responses to the original post before borrowing the idea, in order to validate that the content encourages both the quality and value you are aiming to provide.

Finally, always be sure to rewrite borrowed content in your own words – plagiarism won't reflect well on you or the community!

#2) Browse Editorial Sites

Relevant news and editorial sites are great for finding ideas for new content. While this content won't usually have the longevity or long-term value as more technical content, timely and controversial topics drive a great deal of conversation in online communities.

This type of content also provides an opportunity for community members to share opinions, not facts, making the barrier to participate low and the number of possible answers infinite.

A good example of how to position news or commentary-related content is, "I read an article on XYZ about ________. How do you feel about _________?" Easy, right? (You can also find another approach in this example I posted in June 2014 that received over 70 replies.)

#3) Leverage Events

Events are an amazingly easy way to generate a variety of content for your online community. Here are several ideas that should suit most communities:

  • Use questions asked in the Q&A potion of web events to post in the community's discussion forum(s)
  • Add the event transcript or recording to a resource library or blog
  • At the end of the event, automatically redirect members to a discussion forum where they can continue topically related Q&A with the presenter(s) (check to see if this is part of your vendor's functionality)
  • Write a blog post before the event with a description and link to where members can register
  • Write a blog post after the event to announce when the recording is available and where it can be found

To further simplify how you source content, make it come to you! Almost every content source has its own RSS feed or self-subscribe option these days, so sign up with your email address to get content inspiration delivered right to your inbox.

Content is the number one way to build value in your online community. If you're having a difficult time dedicating yourself to the content creation process due to writer's block or fatigue, don't give up.

Simply rethink the way you generate content, stay ahead of your content plan and track what type of topics and content drives the highest number of interactions. You'll feel like the Michelangelo of content in no time!

What are some easy ways you create content for your online community?

Katie Bapple is a senior online community strategist at Socious. She works with businesses and nonprofit membership organizations to develop effective customer community strategies and implement online community management and growth plans.