What’s the top challenge for community managers?
According to the CMX Hub Community Industry Trends report, The biggest challenge for community managers is the ability to keep the members engaged.
The good news is that creating high-quality content with consistency is one of the key factors behind an engaging community. Hence, community managers looking to increase engagement must have a clear and well-defined content calendar to ensure that quality content is getting generated and shared in the community frequently. The calendar keeps your content schedule organized and allows you to brainstorm as well as easily track what type of content produces the best result.
A content calendar is one of the essential tools for community managers to keep the members and internal staff engaged. The larger objective here is to create a plan for a month or a quarter in advance for different segments of the members and how the content would be created in the community.
Benefits of online community content calendar
We explored the overview of the content calendar and the primary goal. In this section, we’ll learn why exactly a community manager must consider a content calendar.
As a community owner, your interaction and contribution to the community will set the stage for the future course of action. You would inspire the members with your content and drive engagement. So, the point to ponder here is largely how you can build a content plan that motivates, inspires, and delivers value to the members.
When you randomly post resources on your community (from blog posts and AMA sessions to webinars and guides) your community members might not actually consume them. When there is no regularity in terms of the content schedule, members spot the inconsistency and slowly tend to disengage.
This is where a content calendar plays a key role – it allows you to look at your community content strategically, adds consistency, forces your team to brainstorm, collect data, and improve efficiency. Without a structured plan, as a community manager, you would be wasting time on random content and over time the narrative that you are trying to build will get weakened. Without a content blueprint, the engagement would gradually decrease
Given below is the list of benefits you get from a content calendar:
- Systematically create high-quality content
- Get internal support, instill accountability in your team
- Align the content goal with the community
- Come up with fresh ideas for your content
- Cultivate a culture of regularity and give a reason for the members to return
- Collect data and track metrics to optimize the process
- Enforce content guidelines and maintain a quality standard
- Create your unique community rituals and strengthen the culture
- Plan for the changing trends, upcoming events, and account for the seasonality
- Improve engagement with consistency
You might be thinking that your community should be largely driven by user-generated content. While that is definitely true, the content plan allows you to create a framework with which you can facilitate the discussion, initiate a conversation around an idea, create avenues for the members to build networks. Finally, you would be able to craft novel ideas for engaging the members.
Using a content calendar, you will be able to create a robust process for continuously and systematically creating high-quality content. The regularity in producing new content gives a major reason for the members to return to the community and engage. This is similar to how popular social media networks operate — whenever you sign in, you’d see trending and fresh content to engage with.
Time allocation for a content calendar
Whenever we are handling any project — irrespective of whether it is personal or professional, meticulous planning and execution will be the deciding factors for success. Hence, creating a content calendar for your community to finetune your process is valuable. Although it can be time-intensive in the beginning, it will save you a lot of resources in the due course of community operations.
Depending on your community strategy and the stage of the community, you will have to balance the amount of work that the internal team puts in and the members invest. For example, in the initial phases, content seeding would be high, but as you progress and mature your contribution would be lesser (although it should not stop). When you have ambassadors and volunteers you can designate some responsibilities as well.
Components of the content calendar
Since online communities and the types of content they support are quite versatile, your content calendar should be highly flexible. When designing the calendar, your goal should be to ensure that you are able to float fresh and engaging content at regular intervals.
Given below are examples of some of the content:
- Webinars – Could be around common issues or most discussed subjects
- AMAs – Inviting influencers in your domain to give them a place in your community to engage and improve the knowledge of the members
- Ice-breaker sessions – These could be video-driven online sessions to help new members assimilate
- Blogs – Long-form content authored by experts (members, industry veterans, your company)
- Show and tell – Inviting a successful member to showcase how exactly the community or your product helped
- Insider peek – Give an inside look into your community culture with pictures of the internal team making it work
- GIFs – You would post a statement and ask your members to react to the idea with a GIF
You can pick and choose the type of content you would like to include in your calendar based on your specific goals and requirements. Depending on the resources you have to manage the content and facilitate the discussions, select the content wisely. In the end, you’d be amazed by the level of engagement you are able to garner simply by building a streamlined process via a content calendar.
Duplicate the following content calendar created on Notion to get started quickly
Implementing the content calendar
We covered why and how a content calendar for an online community should be created. Now, let’s explore how a community manager can actually implement the plan.
1. Plan early
When you are starting out, create a content calendar for a month and then plan for a quarter. Based on the traction you receive, the engagement you get, the success metrics, and goals you will be changing the plan.
2. Get internal help
Assign the specific tasks to your internal team and get the help you need. Make sure that there is accountability and you can rely on the team to take care of the content delivery as well as distribution. This allows you to ensure that everyone is clear about the things they need to complete and churn content consistently.
3. Test and optimize
You need to continuously gather data around the type of content you are producing and how different content helps you achieve your community goals. The metrics for your online community will help you weed out non-performing content formats. Based on the data you collect, you should continuously optimize and change the content calendar.
Craft a content calendar based on the member segment
Your community content plan must be designed to cater to various member segments. Your goal is to deliver the best possible content for each segment without directly aiming for moving members from one segment to another. That would be a by-product of your content engagement. Remember, the community is not about you, it’s about your members.
According to Richard Millington, founder of FeverBee (a community consulting and course development company), community members can be segmented into the following segments.
- Long-term inactives
- First-time contributors
- Top contributors
Long-term inactives need to consume the very best of your community. So think of creating a monthly and quarterly round-up of your most engaging posts and bring them back to the community via various notification tools (email, browser, native mobile notifications, etc.). They are the ones who stand to gain the most by getting up to speed with the community. Plan re-engagement campaigns as these are the effective solutions to bring back the inactive members.
Learns are the members who come back to your community regularly to consumer content and learn. Show content calendar should have space to surface the popular posts of the week or day and help the learners with their quest for knowledge. Another key element is the ability to identify related topics that a community member might be missing based on the interest and improve their knowledge.
New contributors are looking to engage with the community and gain a foothold. Hence, at this stage, your content calendar should have plans to introduce members to others so they can connect and network. Encourage them to help others and actively share their queries, suggestions, and feedback. Also, it is a good time to understand the problems that they are trying to solve or goals they are looking to achieve by contributing to the community.
Irregulars users are at a high risk of becoming inactive members. Hence, you should have content plans to keep them engaged. Showcase trending discussions, contextual, and personalized threads in your community. Actively seek feedback and learn where they are struggling. Figure out what can be done to ensure that they have a better experience so the members become regular in your community.
Top contributors are essentially your superusers. Your content calendar should have avenues where the most-engaged members share their stories and inspire other members. Consider giving them a dedicated space to contribute content (e.g., weekly or monthly columns). Involve them in structuring your community, leading certain groups, and in some cases provide the opportunity to become the face of your community (e.g., local chapters).
Boost community engagement with a content calendar
We discussed in length various benefits of a community calendar and how you can create one as well as implement successfully. A calendar is an essential tool for any community manager to consistently create high-quality content and keep the members engaged.
Now it’s time for you to create a content calendar for your community. Looking for additional techniques to keep your members engaged? Check out our really long list of community engagement techniques.