For most associations, one of the primary goals of a comprehensive content strategy is to engage your target audience. That audience is likely varied—ranging from existing members to prospects to the overall industry or sector in which the organization operates—so their needs and preferences are also varied.
Basing your organization’s content approach around an online content hub makes regular engagement more likely. Creating a centralized online home for all of your content allows you to push content out through newsletters, social media and other digital channels, and makes it easier to track engagement and make adjustments if needed.
But an online repository and digital channels alone won’t guarantee a following for your content. Here are some steps your organization should consider to help maximize the reach and impact of your content:
- Ask the audience. Whether you are developing or refreshing your content strategy, use the opportunity to survey your target constituencies about their preferences. This might take the form of a member or community survey, or even just a simple online poll (assuming you already have an established tool of engagement, like a newsletter). Ask questions about preferred content type, subjects they would like to see your group cover, what other content outlets they rely on, how frequently they would like to hear from you—anything that will provide more insight into how to better engage with them.
- Be consistent. Once you have a sense of the preferred frequency of your audiences, establish a regular schedule and stick to it as best you can. To stay top-of-mind with your members and pique the interest of other people in your community, it’s necessary to offer up new and compelling content fairly regularly—especially at first. That might be an interesting and engaging video that you distribute at the beginning of every month, a weekly newsletter or podcast, or a series of related feature articles that build on one another as you add them to your content cache. Give your audience something to look forward to. Any steps you take to create consistency boost the trust of your audience and the likelihood that they’ll subscribe to or bookmark your content.
- Curate. While one of the unique values of your organization is the knowledge and expertise of its members—a veritable content mine—your association also is itself an industry authority. One way to convey that authority is to curate relevant content from other sources and put your association “wrapper” on it. That might be news analysis that links to news items in media outlets, links to applicable journal articles that provide a recommendation from one of your members about its value, or just links to interesting content packaged with a few sentences about why it’s relevant to your intended audience segments. Your visitors are likely to appreciate that your organization is helping them keep on top of trends and developments in their profession, and they’ll keep coming back for more.
- Be different. Even if curated content is part of your mix, it’s still critical that your content strategy is sufficiently differentiated by topic and type. Start with exploring the subjects that your organization can “own” because of your advocacy initiatives or the specific expertise of your members, and focus on those first. Also know your competition: Are there associations or media organizations publishing content that’s similar? If so, how can you differentiate to tailor your content to your audience segments and define your specific value? And while you’re at it, mix it up. Posting one short written piece per week and sending out a newsletter with a link to it is going to get old after a while. Consider the wide variety of different content types you can apply beyond writing—audio podcasts, webinars, videos, infographics—that will make your content initiative even more interesting and engaging to your targets.
Building, maintaining and engaging an audience with your content is a constant work in progress. By always asking for feedback, creating habit-forming content and always looking for new ways to stay relevant and interesting, you will build a reputation over time as a reliable and relevant content resource.