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Curation Ideas and Community Strategy From About.com: A Bufferchat Recap

VP of Social and Community at About.com, Matthew Knell, joined us for #bufferchat to discuss content and community strategy.

Check out the full Storify recap here.

#bufferchat (1)

Why is strategy so important for community?

From Matthew:

  • “In general, strategy is a roadmap: should always follow in form “objectives -> tactics -> goals -> results” “
  • “It’s also important to make sure you are in sync w/your product team, vendors, providers and more. They all own key pieces.”
  • “It’s important to set the course of your community to allow people to express themselves in ways they feel comfortable.”
  • “The worst thing about a community is when engagement feels forced. Not all content / tools are created equal.”

Other great insights:

  • Community is what fuels your brand. Community creates fans, representatives, people who amplify your voice on the streets.” @Outsider_NYC
  • Begin with the (relative) end in mind. Establish the goal & tone.” @bldchris
  • A community is the backbone and mouthpiece of your brand! You want to take good care of it and be smart, active, and accessible.” @MadisonJonesHR
  • The conversations happen whether you develop a community or not. Developing a strategy puts you ahead of it” @ravendelana

What role does content curation play in building community?

From Matthew:

  • Good communities are about related topics, but they’re about people first. Content context is important but not everything.”
  • Topics can be fleeting, but good relationships and shared respect are why most people come back to communities for more.”
  • “For content focused communities, content gives fuel to the conversation fire. Gives people universal topics to discuss.”
  • It’s no different than a cocktail party at start. What are the things you ask strangers to get them talking?”

Other great insights:

  • Content has to be gathered from the community. If people don’t feel included/passionate, the strategy won’t work!” @Emilyacarlton
  • Careful curation shows that you really know your audience. Best curation starts with listening to your community.” @moormiston
  • Lots of great content out there. Pointing people to the best stuff puts you in the middle of those conversations.” @30lines

What tools do you use daily for curation?

From Matthew:

  • “Personally, I use Twitter, Feedly and Buffer to curate stuff. I love how Feedly + Buffer work together.”
  • For trending, we use Google Analytics real-time, and watch Twitter, Facebook, Google trends closely.”
  • For new stuff, we have system reports that tell us what’s newly created by our network of Expert writers.”
  • We also use Buffer’s Feeds tool to plug RSS feeds in our content.”
  • For seasonal content, we rely on an editorial calendar of key historical / pop culture events that we cull every few days.”
  • Since we have a lot of con tent to work with, we spend a lot of time finding the “right” content in our mix.”
  • (PLUG: Our Shareables email does this for you today for free – subscribe here: http://about.about.com/shareables ) 😉

Other great tools mentioned:

What is the biggest lesson you learned in community building?

From Matthew:

  • “Community is a hard process. To do it well, you need to be in it for the long haul. You need to iterate on the fly.”
  • “Repeatedly ask yourself: – “Why are we doing this?” – “Who are we doing this for?” – “How we can we make it better?” “
  • And always remember, these are real people. They aren’t always going to want to play by your rules. Or even be nice.”
  • Your community will tell you what it wants if you know how to listen to it. But core purpose should never be lost.”
  • The best scenarios are when “Everyone wins” – the community member, the community at large, and the org community is for.”

Other great tips:

  • It takes time. Be positive, be appreciative, and create/share good stuff.” @meghanmhall
  • You can’t force engagement and that really connecting with your audience takes effort, time, and attention to detail” @_danmessina
  • Take it slow. Know yourself. Choose where you want to be Create a niche. Give away valuable content. Test your results. SCALE!” @mynektur

How often do you re-evaluate your strategy?

From Matthew:

  • We try to look at our content strategies at least weekly – sometimes daily as things break.”
  • Here at About, we’ve just started to understand ways we want to foster our audiences to sharing with us. Stay tuned :)”
  • It’s important to note that our content strategy is shared between our homepage editor, content managers and social team.”
  • Building links between them through emails and physically sitting nearby has really helped.”

Other great tips:

  • Things can change VERY quickly on social, so it’s important to at least do it once a month IMO.” @CBarrows
  • I re-evaluate constantly and adjust small changes.Usually bigger ones come up in 6-12 months,but it is continuous process” @PetrPinkas

Any final advice for social media managers in curating content?

From Matthew:

  • “#1 – Friend test: Share content of social post you’re writing with a friend. If they don’t get the context, rewrite.”
  • #2 – Reuse your winners. It’s ok to reuse content if you know it works. Just give it time to breathe and change a bit.”
  • “#3 – Understand your place in the world. If you (as brand) don’t have a real perspective in an issue, it’s ok to be quiet.”
  • #4 – Embrace data: It’s not as scarily as you think. Using data to tell stories is how you will be more effective.”
  • “#5 (last one) – remember you’re talking to people. You can’t teach heart. But you can always listen more.”

Other great advice:

  • Sometimes you’ll have a lot to share, but don’t post it all at once. Use tools (like Buffer!) to spread them out.” @TheMikeyDunn
  • Monitor comments, replies, reactions for new content ideas that will add value!” @ShannnonB
  • Have a schedule, stick to it, and don’t settle for anything less than the best when it comes to your content” @richardhnewens

Thank you to Matthew for sharing such great expertise with #Bufferchat!

Catch #Bufferchat each week at 9 am Pacific/noon Eastern/4 pm GMT with different guests and topics. Join the Google+ community to keep up on the latest news.

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