Building communities through content

At the most recent American Marketing Association Speaker Series luncheon, we had the privilege of learning a thing or two about content marketing the open source way from Jason Hibbets, senior community evangelist in corporate marketing at Red Hat.

Creating content this open source way is a strategy that focuses on collaboration and community building: a concept that helped opensource.com surpass 1 million views in March 2016 alone. Readers find the site primarily though organic search and although it’s sponsored by Red Hat, there are no ads – not even Red Hat ads – on the site.

How do they do it? They’ve built a community – a strong network of expert writers and contributors to write content with them.

Building your community

As Hibbets explained, the open source way is about creating an environment where experts and influencers in your field can contribute content and learn from each other. It’s where communities are formed around a common purpose. Here, participation is critical and more activity means more information and collaboration to solve problems together. But, flooding your platform with content from like-minded, smart contributors is not enough to get your content plan up and running. It’s the first step to building your community.

Results-only work environment

Before you start generating new content on your site, whether it’s original or contributed, be sure to get something in front of your audiences and measure their reaction. Testing is the only way to find out what works and what doesn’t. And, while more trials can result in more error, it leads you to a better strategy and better content.

Even after you’ve launched your content strategy, continue to measure data. It will allow you to continuously improve your content’s performance and generate more readership and engagement.

Leverage variety

Offering different types of content will engage a larger range of readers and provide something for everyone. For example, if you have a blog post on your site, add a weekly news round-up of curated content or a weekly column.

Not only should the type of content you produce vary, but so should the distribution. Not every member of your email newsletter clicks open. Whether it’s social media, email or even print, do your best to meet each member of your audience where they already are.

Whether the content on your platform is a collaborative effort from a community, like opensource.com, or a product from your employees, ensure it’s engaging, relevant and helpful to your audience. Remember to test and test again for optimization and offer variety to keep your audience engaged and entertained.

Amanda Colocho

Amanda joined Hodges in 2015 after earning her undergraduate degree in mass communications and public relations from VCU. Since then, she’s been flexing her media relations, content strategy and social media muscles on accounts like Virginia Distillery Company, Motorcycle Law Group, Hilldrup, Kroger, Virginia Outdoors Foundation and Swedish Match’s Umgås Magazine.

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