Today’s guest blog post comes from Peter Staal, the online communications manager for LeasePlan in the Netherlands who was one of The Community Roundtable’s scholarship recipients for our most recent community manager training course. Here is some of what he learned:
Content is king. Basically for me this is why I like being in communications. I like tailoring messages to meet the needs or demands of a specified target group. Therefore I was very pleased there was a specific presentation during the 10-session community manager training course entirely devoted to content. I would like to explain how I see that community managers working in a busy corporation should approach a topic such as content.
I work in a busy corporation where most employees are stacked up with work. I myself am as well. For me this means when dealing with content you have to be creative. There is a limited amount of time available to address people and to produce new content. Now how does one deal with circumstances like these?
One of the ideas mentioned during the community manager course was to recycle your content. That one really struck me. Now recycling to me can mean various things. One of the themes that surfaced in the course is repackaging already existing content. If your company for instance has an eBook with company information, think about restyling this into a presentation or different info graphics. Not only does it turn one piece of content into multiple pieces, it also gives you different content to spread out over a longer period of time.
Another way of recycling is to create new combinations of all the numbers and figures. Think of yourself as a statistician. Your company is a source of all kind of numbers (product, financial, employees). These numbers can be combined in a lot of ways to produce significant results. Now try and use this information as much as you can to produce different output.
The third way of recycling is producing an ad, event, or campaign specifically so that it will create spinoff content. Check this Twitter campaign by Smart Car Argentina for example. It had its first life as the actual Twitter stream. It then received a second life on Youtube in the form of a video. Obviously the people who had created the campaign knew that it would even look better as a video. Another example: Organize an event for your community members. Most members are web savvy people, so there will naturally be a lot of Twitter, Youtube and Flickr output after their respective visits. There are interesting articles available on how to re-purpose that content.
And finally you can use one piece of content to cater all your social media tools. One text can generate five tweets, one video on Youtube, one link on Facebook, and perhaps multiple pictures on Pinterest or Flickr. All your accounts have different audiences and different tones of voices. Use this element to your benefit by leveraging all of your accounts with what is actually the same content.
Curate is currently the magic word everyone’s talking about. There are so many curation tools out there it is almost dazzling. I would like to discriminate between the very time consuming curation and the one time set up tools for curation.
To me the first category is actually combining existing content so that you create new meaning. Visit the Storify website to find many examples of that. The White House is doing a good job at it. Just like a curator in a museum, community managers are redefining already existing content. Although this does not necessarily fit in a post about time efficient content production, I did not want to exclude it.
The second category does indeed help the community manager in distress. Using tools like Google Reader to aggregate a lot of different RSS feeds, requires a single time investment. After that it automatically updates itself. Same goes for Paper.li. Set it up once and let the tool do the rest. Your community members will be thankful. A final idea is to use Google Docs to create the beginning of an extensive list and let your community members fill in some of the blank spots. A great example of this is the list of Tweetchats.
Humor works like a charm, no matter what company you are working in. How does humorous content relate to time efficient content? To me, humor is about giving a twist to existing content or existing topics people are talking about. When done right, it provides a new angle to a story that is so unexpected that people will generally love it.
When I engage on social media personally I like to share content that puts content or trending topics in perspective. Think about an iconic image everyone is talking about, redecorated in Photoshop with text balloons, an old movie clip that is redone in an animated GIF., or a mashup of an audio and video. An included bonus is that this content even has the potential to go viral.
Also think of ways to link your product or service to what is in the news or in the general topics of interest of that day. Because this is –most of the time- an unlikely combination it will generate the kind of unexpectedness people love. It will also stimulate your creativity into finding ways of looking at your content. And most importantly it is just great fun, trying to produce content this way.
I want to thank The Community Roundtable for the opportunity to take this course through their scholarship offer. I was impressed with the course and especially with the way they walk the talk, including with their content. There was a live webinar for each class that was recorded so you could re-visit it later, there was an active twitter conversation using the hashtag #CMTraining where those taking the class could chat with each other and ask questions during the live sessions or give feedback to the speakers and there was a private Facebook group where we all will be able to continue to connect with each other and share content long after this training is done. The Community Roundtable doesn’t just explain how to do things…they lead by example.