A secret to success in today’s communications arena is not just the actual production of content, but incorporating the voices of our social audiences into the content mix by building social collaboration into the strategy. In other words, it’s an exercise in agile engagement, in which the brand listens to what people are talking about in networks, and uses that information to shape and guide content development to serve audience need – and gain their interest. The efforts your brand commits to building social collaboration as part of its strategy will be repaid with an engaged audience that trusts your brand’s content, and is willing to share it with their own social graphs.
Here are some easy ways to start building social collaboration into your content strategy.
1. Train your social media teams to interact with your audiences, re-tweeting generously and responding to comments and wall posts. Interaction is the pathway to engagement.
2. Curation can lead to more than an interesting news channel. People are flattered when others tweet their blog posts and re-post links they’ve shared. And often, curation is a two-way street.
3. Find the online groups where enthusiasts live, and participate. These plugged-in groups are fantastic sources of intelligence, ideas and influence. Listen to the conversations. Which questions come up over and over? Which complaints never seem to go away? Within these conversations are opportunities for your brand. (Here are some ideas for developing traction within these types of groups: Virtual Focus Groups for Communicators.
4. Look to your own customer service teams and customer surveys. Mine customer questions and problems, and turn those into content in the form of blog posts about the solutions.
5. As you get to know members of your online audience, seek their opinions. Interview them for blog posts, invite them to preview content, solicit their opinions. In addition to generating good feedback, you’ll have solidified relationships. These folks are more likely to amplify your messages.
So what does the output of social collaboration look like? It can be as simple as incorporating relevant tweets or quotes from your audience into a piece of content. On a larger scale, collaboration can steer the direction a particular piece of content takes. And writ very large, social collaboration can lead to significant use of user generated content and crowd-sourced projects.
All of the resulting content has one important common factor: the voice of the audience comes through, loud and clear; signaling unequivocally that this brand is paying attention. And, as a bonus, using incorporating social collaboration into your strategy will virtually ensure that your audience will be interested in the content your organization publishes.
At the outset, collaboration with audiences can seem daunting. And there’s no doubt that on a larger scale, communities require resources. However, building social collaboration into your organization’s communications approach gets easier as your team gains experience – and as the audience’s respect is gained – triggering a loop of authentic interaction, and message amplification.