When it comes to creating a presence online, content is king. While you can have a flashy website, fully branded with your logo and colours, it is the content you publish there that will drive people to visit your website and engage with you further.
Creating interesting, insightful, funny and informative content will help foster loyalty from your existing members and help nurture future prospects into exploring your offerings further. In this post we will look at why you need content, the types of content you should adopt and how to leverage it to help meet your membership management objectives.
Why Create Content?
Content is one of the most cost effective ways you can add value to your organisation offerings without the need to discount member fees. By creating regular blog posts, social media updates, photos and even videos, you will help build trust amongst your members who will perceive your content as being genuinely valuable to them. Furthermore, you will also find content can help to start, maintain and strengthen ongoing relationships with future members and others with whom you partner.
If that is not enough to convince you, then consider that a diverse content strategy can help attract new leads and members, help you make direct and relevant connections with others who could be beneficial to your organisation, and to sell your offerings to your audience.
Types of Content
Having decided to implement a content strategy you will need to consider which forms of content will best suit your needs and goals. Not every form of content will suit you, so it is important to identify those types which will best fit with your goals, your available resources and which will be easily viewed by your members and target audience.
Common types of content across the web include:
- Blog posts – informative articles published on your website which talk about topics relevant to your organisation and of interest to your audience. Often easy and cost effective to produce, blog posts are often the best choice for any content strategy.
- Social media – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn are where the world comes together to talk and engage. Sharing and creating posts across your social channels can elicit high levels of engagement. However, monitoring and populating social channels can be labour intensive and you will need to be able to identify the best performing post types and channels in order to achieve a good ROI.
- Video – these days creating good quality videos is easy and publishing them online cannot be easier thanks to the likes of sites like YouTube, Vimeo and Vine. From simple introductory videos into what your organisation offers members, to videos documenting activities, events and fundraisers, this form of content can be profitable and often tops the ‘most shared content type’ list.
- Images – photographs offer a great way to provide insight into what you offer. Social channels like Instagram make it easy to share your images with a wider audience.
- Downloadable media – this includes eBooks, whitepapers, case studies and articles. These are often long forms of content which seek to answer questions, provide solutions to problems and offer valuable information. In order to access such media an email address is required, which makes downloadable media perfect for lead generation. You could also consider making your organisation brochure/prospectus downloadable via your website – a cost effective alternative to the traditional print and post.
Creating a Content Strategy
1. What is the Purpose of your Content?
What do you want to achieve with your content? Defining a clear set of objectives and goals will help you determine which content types are best suited to you and the forms of content you will need to produce. Content strategies will usually seek to achieve three things:
By placing your goals and objectives within these three areas you will find it easier to identify the types of content you will adopt and the channels you will use to publish your content.
2. Content Channels
Where can your content be found? A good content strategy will use a range of channels in which to publish and spread their message. For example:
- Newsletters (via email)
- Blog posts (on the website)
- Video (YouTube/Vimeo)
- Direct email (Mailing list)
- Social Media (Facebook/Twitter)
The majority of channels are free to set up and publish on, whilst others such as creating a blog on your website will require a small investment to get it setup. Begin with just one or two channels, such as your blog and a Facebook page, then create other channels as your audience begins to grow and you identify other forms of content to pursue. You can then use your existing channels to promote the new ones.
The idea is to start small and build out your channels over time. Unless you have considerable resources and funds to invest, hitting a large number of channels from the outset can result in you struggling to maintain and populate them with any kind of content which will engage, attract and inform your audience.
3. Choosing your Content’s Content
What will you post? Keeping your audience interested will require a good mix of content. But don’t make it too complicated, and above all keep what you post in line with your organisation activities and brand. This includes anything you share from other members.
Examples of content include:
- Blog posts – informative, newsworthy, insightful
- Images – organisation images, images from other sources related to your organisation
- Funny – be careful with humourous posts, not everyone might find it funny. Poke fun at yourselves, but not your members.
- Share member stories – has a member achieved something great? Maybe they need help, or have reached a milestone or anniversary. Welcome new members, and thank the loyal ones.
- Curated content – find other peoples content which is related to your own and which you think would benefit your members. Use a excerpt in your social media updates and link back to the original source. This is a good way to find content to post while you generate your own.
- News and announcements – use social media and your blog to keep your members informed of important news and updates.
When and how often will you release content? It is important to post regularly across all your channels but make sure you can maintain the posting schedule you set out.
An example content schedule could look like this:
- Blog posts – 2 – 3 times week using a combination of own posts, curated content and news/announcements.
- Social media – Aim to post daily on Facebook or at least every other day. Twitter strategies are more involved, often requiring you to post 2-3 times a day.
- Newsletters – a monthly email is a good way to send your members a roundup of the past months news and happenings within your organisation. Your membership management software will be able to schedule your newsletter to go out automatically to your members via email.
The Opportunities for Growth
Once your content strategy is established and you are up and running, it is important to regularly take stock of how you are doing. After the first six months take a look at how your content has been performing – blog post views, comments, shares, social media shares, engagement etc. As you build your content channels you will discover various tools which will help you measure the results of your efforts. Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day and it can take a while for content to reach your target audience.
As your content grows and you begin to develop new strategies, you should be able to identify new opportunities for growth and increasing your reach. For example:
- Getting people to sign up to your social channels
- Creating opportunities to share your content
- Generating leads via downloadable media
- Newsletter sign-up forms for both members and non-members
- Using multi-channel promotions e.g. Facebook competitions promoted via Twitter; promote new blog posts on social channels.
A good content strategy can make a big difference to the ongoing success of your organisation. By giving people quality content they will want to read, share and talk about, you will place your name/brand in people’s minds. By using social networks you can leverage your members networks of friends to reach out to more people and help promote the original content you create. And as your strategy evolves, you will discover new and creative ways to reach more people and achieve your objectives.
Of course, to manage all the new members you’re content strategy will pull in, you’ll need a membership management system. To help guide you through the evaluation process, we’ve put together a Free Buyers Guide that details the features you’ll need to successfully manage your membership online. Download your free copy via the link below or take an interactive tour of PaySubsOnline.com to see how easy it is to manage your membership online.