Writing initial content

Table of contents

  1. Seed the initial content
  2. Write about the community itself

Seed the initial content

The ultimate goal of the initial stage of any community is to gather active, interesting people on the site who are enthusiastic about the topic and mission of a community. For many online communities, the “loop” of community formation looks like this: interesting content attracts people, they see an opportunity for self-fulfillment in the community and start creating new interesting content that attracts more people who create more interesting content and so forth.

Let me emphasize that we create content not for the sake of content itself, but to attract early users. The point where we have enough users that they are creating enough content to stay engaged is the end point of this stage of community development.

More precisely, there are two goals for seeding the initial content.

  1. Attract early users. Plan your content strategy carefully and beforehand. The way you write the content and the topics you write about will attract people who will write about the same thing in the same way.

  2. Create opportunities for action. Users will act on your platform only if two requirements are satisfied.

  • There is an opportunity for action, so users can show off their skills.
  • Users feel the urge to take action here and now.

It is typical for community managers to seed the very initial content from different accounts. Doing so we set the culture of interpersonal communication in the community. In the future users will understand the behavioral norms of the community by reading through existing posts.

The narrower the range of the topics and the fewer places where discussions take place at the beginning of the community, the faster users will start to find each other and help each other. Until users find each other naturally, you will need to organize connections manually and act as a regular user in some way every now and then.

Write about the community itself

There is one type of community building activities that one should start working on from the very first day of a community and never stop. It is creating content about the community itself. It allows us to keep users engaged without regard to anything else.

The task is to create such stories that excite users’ imagination, make them dream about some future, and sometimes suggest concrete steps to make dreams come true. Through telling the stories about the community, we form a shared identity among the users.

Some topics to cover when writing about the community itself.

  • The mission of the community and the problem being solved. The mission of a community is its core value propositions and a key pillar around which the community is built. Your job is to use stories to associate your community as the best solution to the problem at hand. The mission is not only a good topic in itself, but also a way to build all other communications Any change or initiative that is communicated from the perspective of the mission will be clear to users and do not require additional reasoning.

  • Software features and social norms. Software updates and constant evolution of the community rules are indicators that give users confidence in the success of the future of the community. To get your users excited and engaged you can share with them any interesting stories about your software platform, new features, design of the social structure, etc. If the users don’t know about what you are working on, it doesn’t exist for them.

  • Current community news. There are always short-term goals and ongoing small initiatives in the community. You can share some stories about everything that is happening in the community at the current moment. Users’ success stories, milestones passed, your plans for the future, etc. The goal is to make users feel that they are part of a bigger journey.

There are two types of communications.

  1. One-way communication, when you share information and the users have no opportunity to respond to it. A typical example is a blog post without the ability to comment.

  2. Two-way communication. The case when the users have the opportunity to respond to what you have shared with them. When users are able to discuss things with a community manager and can influence the fate of the community it creates a sense of ownership and drivers engagement.

There is one topic to avoid. Don’t write about the industry itself. Stories about the industry turn your blog into a news portal. News about the industry is not bad in itself and can be very interesting, but it will not help you to build a community. If your goal is to build a community, then any information a community manager posts should be solely about the people in the community or the community itself.