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Know Your Audience: Create a Community Editorial Calendar

Written by Molly Talbert | on December 21, 2016 at 8:30 AM

Know your audience: create an online community editorial calendar

Content creation - and managing user generated content creation - is a big part of being a community builder. But how do you manage your content in an organized way that increases engagement?

The key is creating a community editorial calendar, which is what Georgina Cannie of The Community Roundtable talked about at Super Forum 2016.

Bring Consistency and Increase Engagement

As a leader in your community, you set the example for how to interact within it. Whether consciously or not, members see how you respond to comments and what types of content you upload and will follow suit. So how is your content strategy telling members how to behave?

When your content strategy is ad hoc - adding documents, webinars, blog posts, etc., as they happen rather than on a regular schedule - you actually might be dampening your community’s engagement. Without consistency, members never learn what to do and get stage fright because there aren’t set standards - no one wants to accidentally make a mistake and embarrass themselves in front of everyone.

"When we fall into scattered and scrambling content creation or engagement post distribution, not only does it eat up community manager time, it also inhibits the flow of a uniform and cohesive content stream,” said Georgina. “This lack of consistency is felt by members. The absence of a stable engagement framework makes it unclear to them how to appropriately engage."

That’s why it’s so important for the community manager to create standards through their own engagement in the community. And a community editorial calendar can help you bring the content consistency that your community needs.

What Does a Community Editorial Calendar Look Like?

Although the concept is similar, a community editorial calendar looks different than a blogging editorial calendar. Rather than only focusing on blog posts, a community editorial calendar can run the gamut when it comes to content types. Since your community houses so much diverse content, from webinars and online courses to AMAs and post-event discussions, your community editorial calendar should include variety.

Out of all the content that your community churns out, you need to set the standard for how to organize and present it. And by organizing content correctly, you’ll funnel individual members into the content that they need or want to see.

"There is a lot going on in a successful community.” said Georgina. “It can be tough for members to find their way. So let’s do the hard work for them shall we? We can funnel them into a pathway we intend them to follow. An editorial calendar will allow you to channel fresh streams of content into regularly recurring programmatic anchors that your members know how to navigate."

Here’s a list of potential content types that Georgina recommends:

  • Blog posts - these can be authored by guests, members or your organization
  • Subject matter expert contributions - like an Ask Me Anything, blog post, webinar or ebook
  • Executive engagement - such as a blog post, an Ask Me Anything or a webinar
  • Member photos - such as event photos
  • Video media - like a webinar or an informational video

This list could vary depending on what your community is like and what resonates with members. While it can be very valuable to have many different content types in your community, without a calendar for guidance, juggling so many items can exacerbate the inconsistency and burden the community manager.

Make Your Own Community Editorial Calendar

Rather than delighting your members through surprise, the aim of a community editorial calendar is to delight through stability.

At Super Forum, Georgina shared her formula for creating a community editorial calendar that will ease the community manager’s job, create stability, and spur engagement amongst members. Here are her tips:

  • Time frame - First, instead of looking at your entire calendar (like the entire year or quarter), you need to break it into smaller chunks of time. Georgina suggested looking at the calendar in two-week segments.
  • Topic - Now, assign a topic for each two week segment. For example, one segment can be ‘collaboration’ and the next can be ‘live events.’
  • Plug in programs - Once you have a topic, plug in regular programs. For example, the first Monday of every two-week segment you’ll have an AMA. The first Thursday of each two-week segment you’ll engage an executive and the following week you’ll have a member spotlight.
  • Shift topic, keep the framework - After two weeks, you’ll keep the same format (AMA on Monday, executive engagement on Thursday, member spotlight following week) but you adopt a new topic.

By creating a cyclical calendar, you’ll always have both consistency and fresh content. Watch how the community reacts and listen to what topics interest them the most. Since your editorial calendar is in such short segments, you can quickly adapt the next segment to have content pertinent to current trends.

Topics: Online Community Management, Member Engagement

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