How to Make Your Community the Heart of Your Content Strategy

Slide1If it's your job to create and share content on behalf of a brand, then you know the feeling of shooting in the dark. You're constantly asking yourself if an article or blog post idea will resonate with your target audience, or if content shared on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram (or Snapchat, if you don't mind the meager metrics) is going to cause a ripple. Even if the metrics in Google Analytics and native analytics platforms are high for a particular piece of content, you have to ask yourself, high in relation to what?

In the search for great content that inspires engagement, we so often forget to look in the most obvious place. Karen Do, senior manager, brand social media, for Adobe, knows where to go for the best content for her audience—her audience. At PR News' Big 4 Social Media Summit in San Francisco on Aug. 10, Do talked about how she and her team make the Adobe community the hero in their campaigns and how they find ways to spotlight their creative media. Adobe showcases a blend of influencer work and user-generated content on Instagram, in particular.

In one Photoshop campaign, for instance, Adobe launched an Instagram contest using hashtags that referenced one particular Photoshop influencer's artwork. For its #CreativeImpact Series, Adobe engaged influencers to post photos to Instagram of either someone they believe is making art that has a social impact or of street art that has social impact. The Adobe team also curates and regrams creative use of Photoshop, and gives proper attribution and shows appreciation of the work.

What can you do to bring your community into your content strategy? Here are some starting points.

• Ask your community specific questions about their daily professional challenges. Post questions to Twitter, send emails, schedule calls. The responses can be repackaged as content, which then inspires new questions, new answers, new content.

• Launch contests, but don't make them about your brand. Most of the Adobe contests Do discussed in San Francisco concerned art generally, not Adobe's products specifically. Your community's responses to such contests are content gold. Most of us love recognition, and are pretty likely to share anything that we created and that somebody else posted.

• Show appreciation. Thank people for participating in contests, for sharing visual content and for answering questions—for simply saying kind words about your brand and about you. It's polite, human and smart.

This is not a Tom Sawyer solution to the problem of whitewashing your fence. You'll still have to spend a fair amount of time creating your own original content and shooting in the dark. But that's a problem for another day.

—Steve Goldstein, Editorial Director, PR News @SGoldsteinAI