Here’s how content is produced these days: You identify your target audience, devise niche topics for your blog, do keyword research and write. Then you rely on the power of SEO to raise awareness around your content piece or you employ other push tactics to make content visible. This strategy worked well—until there appeared to be too much content. Now, a social community is the best way to raise awareness for your content and promote your business to an audience.
Content shock is a term defined by Mark Schoeffer in 2014 as: “The emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it.” It’s now clear that his projection turned out to be true.
Certainly, audiences of people still want to learn; they expect content that is educational, informative and knowledgeable, so the demand for content is still high. But this demand is for new knowledge and only a chosen few have the power to expand the boundaries of knowledge. We now all have to turn into researchers and academics to satisfy the need for novelty. The result is hungry-for-knowledge audiences and businesses struggling to quench the demand.
Occasionally, we see content creators take on the role of the researcher to challenge the status quo with innovative content, but for businesses that rely on content to increase awareness of their brand and drive traffic, spending time creating academic content isn’t a justifiable investment. This means that most businesses continue to keep publishing content that responds to their audience’s interests and needs, which creates a harsh competitive environment between businesses because everyone uses keyword research to identify what their audience wants. This creates identical content pieces, article spin-offs and similar content formats such as ubiquitous infographics which are the side effects of businesses using the same tools.
How does the audience decide which one of the two pieces of content to read or which blog to follow if every business is producing content on the same topic, even sometimes with the same article title?
Customers simply don’t decide – they scan several content pieces from Google search results. Sometimes new content formats and creatively designed content pieces perform well, but it’s not enough. Not only does such a method of content consumption diminish audience engagement and the number of subsequent email list sign-ups, but also this trend indicates that businesses that once competed only on products are now competing on content, too.
As a result of this trend, the content creation process in its usual “Strategize-Create-Push” sequence has become obsolete. There are simply too many brands trying to push their message these days.
In this content-overloaded environment, content is perceived as another commodity, however, there are new tactics that can help you get your content seen. One of these tactics is by creating a social community. If you put your social community at the heart of your marketing efforts, content becomes a pathway to more meaningful interactions with your audience.
Brands Which Have Successfully Created a Social Community
Virtual Summit Mastery
Virtual Summit Mastery is a community dedicated to virtual summits and everything related to Virtual Summit Mastery workshops conducted by Navid Moazzez. The community presents itself as a supportive space where everyone can share the strategies, tools, and tips they learn. The community owner posts quite a few promotional messages, but they don’t interfere with the overall sharing agenda of the group.
The Super Cool Dan Ray White Hat SEO and Link Building Group
The Super Cool Dan Ray White Hat SEO and Link Building Group is another fast-growing community launched by a personal brand. Connection to a real person makes the community more engaged, while the owner provides regular helpful tips and enjoys the respect based on the value of the product offered.
Truth About Cancer
Truth About Cancer is a community created around the social issue of cancer treatment. This community, in particular, is unique because while most communities are created around a product or business owner, this is a publishing business that derives profits from website ads.
These are small brands that created a community around a niche topic. They are not business pages, rather they are shared spaces for everyone to learn, contribute, and engage in meaningful conversations on the subject at hand.
4 Reasons Why You Need to Start a Social Community to Promote Your Business
Businesses that have communities dedicated to niche topics experience a plethora of competitive advantages, such as these 4 main reasons:
There’s Less Focus on Making a Sale & More Focus on Conversation
If you curb the desire to post promotional messages too often and instead focus on making the community a learning experience for everyone, you will likely experience increased attention to your content and potentially your product too.
Since communities are rarely used as business pages, visitors don’t fear being sold to and are more open to communication. A great social community strategy is to occasionally post promotional content but to mostly allow community members to start and lead conversations.
A Social Community Serves as an Added Bonus Point & Verifies Content Quality
As a community administrator, you get the indisputable advantage of your content being viewed as more authoritative. You reinforce your image as an opinion leader.
Additionally, people love to discuss complex ideas but the comments section of blog posts aren’t particularly conducive to long discussions. The format of a social community, on the other hand, encourages discussions and makes it easier for people to join the conversation.
A Social Community Treats Every Member Equally, Including the Business
Since the business is there to spur conversations on the social community, not to promote their products, community members are a lot more relaxed and easy to engage with. This gives businesses a great opportunity to personally connect with each member of their audience.
Even though there is a clear community owner, you will be perceived solely as another member who has the same passion and interests as all the other community members. This perception of you being an equal community member allows the other community members to let their guard down.
Social Communities Provide New Content Ideas
Lastly, your social community is the place where you can source content ideas from. Whether you use community polls to help you decide on the next topic to write about or whether you have reoccurring questions that pop up in discussions, you can find the most pressing as well as rare content ideas with the help of your social community.
Additionally, content marketing has many layers. It is not only about blog posts and white papers. There are videos, images, infographics, presentations, and ebooks. The great thing about having a social community is that it gives you the chance to distribute all types of content to your audience and even explore new content formats such as live stream videos and 360 pictures.
Businesses have long used social media to promote products, services or brands, but now they’re competing on content too. Content has truly evolved from being a supporting sub-product of a business’ efforts to promote products to a self-standing asset that carries value on its own.
Since competition amongst content creators is stifling, social communities are now the platform that provides businesses with a competitive advantage and aid in promoting a business’ image of being an opinion leader and niche topic expert.
Need more ideas to help improve your content strategy? Check out this article on How to Use Social Proof to Grow Your Ecommerce Business.