Crowdfunding Crowd building and Crowd strategy

posted Dec 31, 2012, 11:14 AM by David Khorram   [ updated Jan 1, 2013, 10:03 AM ]


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1. People 

Even if you lack the internal staff to ramp up your content plans, the key is to commit resources for the long haul. Too often, the person spearheading the content plan already has a full-time job doing something else. Planning, producing and maintaining your content isn’t a part-time endeavor; it needs to live in real time, right beside your evolving business.

If you can source a person internally, that’s usually the best scenario, as it’s one less thing you’ll have to manage outside the business. Your content lead should be in a position to feed ideas back to you or the team, so there’s always a fresh set of stories that can be added to the editorial queue.

Your content strategist should be savvy enough to look inward and confident enough to communicate outward. She doesn’t have to have technical skills or be a super blogger — what you want is a business person first, a technologist second. That ensures the content needs of the organization aren’t constantly being twisted to support a certain technology or toolset.

Familiarity with standards will be a key skill set. Part of her responsibility should be researching and monitoring the vendor space and industry groups to stay current with developing standards and best practices. It’s good to have quarterly checkpoints with your content lead to get a sense of what she’s tracking.

The big takeaway for the “people” element is simple. Don’t underestimate or under-commit when it comes to the person who’ll lead your content strategy. All roads stem from them, and all roads should lead back.

2. Process

In the context of your content strategy, establishing a process is a sanity check in a sometimes insane environment.

Let’s look at a scenario in which a simple, well-defined process can help. Creating content is often labor intensive, and even the best writers can struggle to find things to write about when they don’t have structure. That’s where process comes in.

Whether at a weekly or a monthly meeting, content goals should be put in place that align with your business objectives. Talk through marketing programs, sales strategies and customer service issues to uncover what needs to be amplified. Once there’s alignment, create a simple calendar that shows when the content or post should be done and where it should live. In other words, decide whether it’s a Facebook response, blog post, or forum contribution.

As your calendar and content workflow develop, make sure you’re mapping the communications and feedback back to your business objectives. A big part of sticking to a process is being able to track results. Don’t do it if you’re not planning to measure it.

3. Technology

Your technology is the infrastructure that makes your content strategy hum. Once you’re comfortable with your personnel and process, lay out some simple requirements that support the way you intend to create and maintain your content.

The Website

Start with your Web presence and then move on to email marketing. For your Web presence, the big thing to build around is mobility. Your customers are increasingly detached from the desktop environment, so make sure your content goes along for the ride.

As you get a handle on how Web standards impact your content development, you’ll be in a  better position to look at broader capabilities for managing your content. For larger organizations, a content management system is typically the toolset of choice. In the past, CMS systems were often too expensive for smaller organizations. But as cloud computing has progressed, web-based  offerings have proliferated. Web content management vendors  now mix and match offerings and can customize features based on usage models and actual need. Just be sure to stick to your requirements as you approach  vendors to avoid paying for things you don’t actually need.

Most Web hosting providers now include the major software tools aimed at content management. WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and more obscure blogging and community-building packages can now be installed in a few clicks. But again, don’t get too consumed with all the features, as they shouldn’t ever drive your content strategy. Address the things you’ll do the most and work back to the technology.

Keep in mind that the   WordPress blogging platform is a great tool to get you publishing quickly, but for anything more complex than a blog, it can be a cumbersome infrastructure to maintain as your Web presence grows. In fact, your website is more of a hub these days anyway. With social networks and other curation platforms like Tumblr, your Web presence is essentially the site that aggregates or surfaces what’s relevant.

Email Marketing

Much of your content will also be channeled through email marketing. You can wade through your options pretty quickly, as most of the mid-market choices have moved upstream through acquisition or consolidation. What’s left are solid choices that still provide some level of free service, depending on the number of contacts you’re trying to reach.

Offerings from iContact, MailChimp, Constant Contact and Emma all have rich sets of features and are easy to use. And their capabilities are socially aware, providing basic connectivity with major social networks and platforms.

Just make sure you have some flexibility when it comes to creating your templates. Besides managing your contacts database, design is where most of your heavy lifting will be.

The nice thing about today’s content tools is the amount of technology available to power your efforts. But don’t get wide-eyed about what you can do and jump around from project to project. Break things down to people, process and technology, and watch your objectives turn into results.

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