Starting an online community is an ambitious task. Not only does it require a community manager to wear many hats to ensure a strong foundation is being laid, but it also calls for a great deal of enthusiasm. It can be challenging and overwhelming to know what to focus on, what to prioritize, and how to fuel the community so that it takes hold and grows.
Feverbee calls this stage in an online community’s lifecycle the Inception stage. During Inception, it’s critical that a community manager initiate discussions with invited members to encourage participation and build relationships. These discussions should lay the groundwork for what the online community does and who it is for.
This involves a lot of managing of moving parts and, quite frankly, can often cause a heavy workload and a big headache for community managers. The solution? Curated content.
Using curated content to fuel an emerging community helps to reduce the constant hardship of creating brand new content and gives the new content that is created an even longer shelf-life.
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During this delicate “startup” phase, audience members need information to help them better understand what this new online community is all about and what role they want to take in it and why.
Here are three ways curated content helps to establish this strong foundation for online communities:
There are a variety of ways you can use third-party content to engage your community. In the Inception stage, it’s best to focus on the ways that will help get that buy-in, educate on relevant topics, and encourage participation.
Showcasing content from a credible influencer in your space will help encourage buy-in. To illustrate, let’s look at Wearwell, an ethical subscription box brand. They’re in the early stages of building a community that deeply cares about sustainable, eco-friendly, fair trade fashion accessible for all. In Spring 2017, they launched their Indiegogo campaign, raising 173% of their target goal.
On their Instagram account, they curate quotes and third-party content from other brands and individuals who are already doing great things in the ethical shopping space. They discuss related topics, such as consciousness, to build awareness, form connections with those who already support those brands and educate newcomers on why their mission is important and what they hope to accomplish together.
A key goal during the Inception stage is to capture interest and be seen as the hub for knowledge on the topics that really matter to your community. A great way to accomplish this in the Inception stage is by sharing relevant news. Ask yourself:
This doesn’t always have to look like news articles, either. A unique example is the company, Oculus, a brand that creates premium virtual reality gaming gear. Oculus’ success depends on highly anticipated and well reviewed games, so they’ve built an online forum that caters to both developers that build games for their platform and players who use their virtual reality headsets.
Oculus makes use of news by posting release notes, formatted and repositioned based on which audience they are speaking to. Remember, these audiences care deeply about new updates to products, so this is both timely and highly relevant.
Done daily, weekly or monthly, the recap brings together relevant discussions in your space. Use content created and curated by your own members and add in third-party sourced information.
By building value consistently, your members will view your community and its recap as an important, timely and reliable source of relevant information for them. It will have a strong pull effect over time.
A great example of this is the Breast Cancer Network of Australia. Through their groups, they offer content specifically niched to the audience, like Young Women, fighting breast cancer. On the other end, they do a weekly Friday update, where they round up and highlight all community discussions, upcoming local events and relevant news.
By utilizing curated content effectively, your new online community is sure to gain traction and lay the foundation for growth. To learn the ways to use curated content in the other stages of the online community lifecycle, download our free eBook: 9 Secrets to Keeping Your Community Content Fresh, co-authored by our friends at Vanilla.