Today’s technology can help you piggyback on your network’s networks with community-driven content that amplifies the voices of your partners and customers.
Before Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, we largely took brand messaging as gospel or waited until we could get feedback from a trusted friend or family member. But today, whether you’re looking for a new pair of boots or a new piece of your tech stack…well, there’s an app or social network for that.
Even with B2B purchases, we now have one-click access to peer reviews and insights. And we’re hungry for them: When asked how their content consumption has changed over the past year, 39% of respondents to Demand Gen Report’s latest Content Preferences Survey said they get more content through social networks and peer recommendations.
The question for you is: Are you creating that seamless connection between your buyers and your community of partners, peers and customers? That’s where community-driven content comes in.
Community-driven content is defined by its name: content created by you but driven by the input of your community. You may be asking, “But Alicia, I thought customer success stories should only be used for bottom-of-the-funnel content?” Yes, you want to save the in-depth stories about why you’re so great for later in the buyer’s journey. But I’ve found that there are so many other ways you can tap your community to validate your messaging, educate your audience and inspire them to learn more about your company.
Here are three ways you can collect and use this invaluable input:
Peer Review Sites
G2 Crowd, Capterra and TrustRadius are peer-review sites for tech platforms and solutions—and they’re chock-full of fantastic insights. All three of these platforms feature some form of score as well as detailed commentary about their experiences. You can use this data in so many ways, like:
- Bottom-funnel nurture emails
- Callouts for middle-funnel and bottom-funnel content
- Fodder for display ads and social posts
- Context for podcast ads
These are immediate, quick-turn applications, but community input should be used to guide your broader content decision-making, too. Your marketing team can use feedback to uncover new messaging ideas, new content ideas and even campaign themes.
Social Media Comments
LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook and Instagram are all active watering holes for your prospects, customers and partners to connect and share stories. Are you using these platforms to collect intelligence? Are you using your branded platforms to ask questions and reshare their accounts? Are you engaging in conversations—or friendly debates—in relevant communities?
If you ask the right questions, your audience will be eager and willing to engage, especially if you note that their input will be used in community-driven content! Some ways to use this input include:
- Embed comments in relevant blogs
- Use feedback to find new, even controversial, content topics
- Tweak sales and product positioning (and even guide product development)
- Incorporate quotes into influencer–style E-books and white papers
- Find new executives and participants for virtual events, webinars and podcasts
One-to-One Calls & Virtual Roundtables
If the pandemic has taught me anything (and boy, has it taught me a lot), it’s that people are eager and willing to have conversations with peers. In the past, we’d sometimes struggle to find clients willing to engage in case studies and roundtables for fear of divulging competitive information. But it’s clear that we’re all hungry for knowledge and advice, and in turn, are more open to sharing our experiences—warts and all.
Virtual roundtables are great because you can get a group of like–minded individuals in the “same room.” Create an agenda with supporting questions to guide the conversation, but let participants drive the session. You’ll be surprised how many great content nuggets you’ll get from these conversations.
It’s also important to have one-on-one conversations whenever possible. You’ll be able to create more granular, specific questions, which will ultimately allow you to use input in more ways. For instance, you can interview several customers around their experiences before, during and after implementing your solutions. These conversations help spark relationships and these relationships can create a loyal, reciprocal relationships driven by content creation and thought leadership. Some applications include:
- Use high-level input to create or update personas and messaging.
- Transcribe interviews around hot trends and position your clients and partners as influencers.
- Reuse audio for a podcast series focused on “in the trenches” stories and lessons.
- Include clients as co-hosts for future roundtables and virtual events.
- Extract lessons and solution-oriented tips for tactical, best-practice-focused content.
A Community-Driven Campaign Framework
These ideas may seem extremely abstract right now, so let’s put some of these applications into action. Let’s say we’re all on the content team for a social media platform that’s targeting the retail industry. We want to engage and use input from social media leaders to create net-new content and experiences. Here are some content ideas rooted in community:
- Host a virtual roundtable from a targeted list of professionals to discuss trends, challenges and investment priorities.
- Feature a client on an educational webinar focused on new social media trends and imperatives for 2021.
- Ask social followers to share their challenges and encourage them to register.
- Reuse and embed social posts in a recap blog post to help drive on-demand views.
- Conduct granular interviews with current customers around how they’ve honed their social media strategies and their tips for the future.
- Reuse audio for a limited podcast series.
- Extract quotes and best practices for an influencer-style asset.
- Break down these quotes and design them as social posts and display ads.
- Break down these quotes and design them as social posts and display ads.
- Create a checklist on “social hacks” from top executives and practitioners.
- Release a case study portfolio around how these executives were able to drive tangible change using your solution.
This is only scratching the surface of all the great ideas at your disposal. One key best practice, however, is to think through your entire content framework before you start reaching out to your community. You don’t want to come off as needy or self-serving.
Your goal should be to build trust within your community and show that your primary objective is to position them as experts. Only then will they be willing to engage and share their candid feedback. You’ll also be able to go into conversations with the bigger picture in mind, so you can ask more thoughtful questions and get a wealth of feedback that you can reuse and repurpose.
Want to learn more about how to reuse and repurpose community-driven content? Check out this resource, which details how you can do more with less to maximize the ROI of your content.
Alicia Esposito is VP of Content for Retail TouchPoints. Formerly a Senior Content Strategist for Content4Demand, she oversaw the content and editorial strategy for B2B clients in a variety of industries. She also helped company partners and clients with their content strategy and creation efforts and has a passion for crafting immersive and relevant content experiences using new approaches to storytelling, interactive formats, influencers and more. When she’s not dwelling over all things branding, messaging and content strategy, she’s spending quality time with her family, binging on Netflix or eating guacamole.