Several years ago I wrote an article declaring that content is dead and community is king. What’s most interesting about the article is that it contains zero references to Facebook and Twitter, two of the largest online communities today.
While content certainly isn’t dead, the passing years have really proven the value of community engagement. This is no more obvious than the invention of Google+, Google’s latest attempt to get into the social community business.
I recently published an article about how you can win anything with engagement, which explores how search engines are now looking to community engagement as a metric in the algorithms. Essentially, what we are seeing is a merging of content and community into one, where social engagement is the content and the messenger all at the same time.
Both content and the message platform – which can include SEO and ads, as well as social media – are very important to the success of your online marketing efforts. But social media is more than just pushing content, it is actively creating content in small, digestible chunks. Or, as old people like to call it: communicating.
Being involved in a community online is just like being involved in a community or group offline. The only difference is, well, one is online and the other isn’t. And, like any group you belong to, communication is the key to being a healthy member of that community. It’s the sharing of thoughts and ideas and the ability to make connections with people through similar interests, histories, desires and plans.
Online communities are a way to build relationships with people you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. And while you can use social media to push your content to the masses, that should not be the bulk of your community communications.
Imagine being a part of a group and each time there is one person there who only talks about what’s important to them. They step up on their soapbox, declare their point of view and then sit down without ever really listening much to what anybody else had to say.
I belonged to a business networking group like this once. Everyone was there to promote themselves so nobody really cared about what everyone else was promoting. They wanted to get their spiel in and that was it. The group was a dud. If people only want to sell and never want to engage, nobody gets anything.
Building your online communities works the same way. You have to engage. You have to participate. And above all, you have to listen. There is nothing wrong with your content, but focus on becoming a part of the community so people actually care about your content.
If content is king, it can be a bully. It’s all about itself. However, when you let community be king of your content, you can then focus on building community engagement, which encourages people to read your content. When community comes first, it uses content as a tool rather than a weapon. Tools fix things. Weapons, not so much.
Focus on community. Make it king over your content and use both content and community to build your social presence that people engage with. Engagement in social eventually leads to engagement in sales – without having to do much selling.