Building a community begins with telling your story. This can be done across a variety of platforms, from your blog to your Facebook page to Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and LinkedIn. It's easy to get caught up in understanding how to use each of these tools and to lose focus on what you're trying to accomplish.
Creating a story about the world, and how your organization is the solution to a problem, is a core tenet of community organizing. Developing this narrative is now being embraced by more people under the name content strategy.
The resources I cover here can help you understand what a content strategy is and how to develop one for your organization. If this term is new to you, the graphic below from Brain Traffic illustrates the concept. Kristina Halverson defines content strategy in A List Apart:
Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.
Kristina is the CEO and founder of Brain Traffic, as well as the co-author of the book Content Strategy for the Web.
In the Forbes Brands Voice blog, Michael Brenner of SAP further defines content strategy:
For me, content strategy is all about the why and how and content marketing is what you actually deliver – the tools, techniques, channels and content types.
Michael's language and examples are firmly rooted in the world of selling a product or service. This is especially useful for people using the business edition of NationBuilder, though the advice can be used by anyone.
For example, the "hard sell" for a nonprofit could be pitching membership or volunteer shifts. Alternatively, your executive director could become a thought leader on an issue related to your organization's mission (e.g. municipal homeless policies for a soup kitchen), and your goal could be to create relevant content for your blog and getting editorials published in local and national media outlets.
You want to think through who your audience is in each channel and remember that distributing content across multiple platforms allows you to be your own media outlet.
Echo & Co. makes some great points about Twitter strategy in "Best Practices for Nonprofits on Twitter." I particularly enjoyed the "What's your plan?" section of the article. EchoDitto founder Nicco Mele wrote the book "The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath" which was recently reviewed by David Meerman Scott. David is a strong proponent of being your own media outlet and says that Mele's book offers some cautionary examples of problems created by the dispersement of power. His blog, Web Ink Now, is a great resource for thinking on how to communicate about your product or service using the newest technology.
Several years ago, I became aware of the Department of Defense embracing social media through David's blog. Defense has an impressive number of communication channels which can be found on their Social Media Sites page. It's also worth checking out the DoD Social Media Hub to see how they're approaching their social media communications.
While you can reach more people by spending time sharing content on multiple platforms, I think it's important to place the tactical process of content distribution within a larger strategic context. Having an editorial plan will help you ignite conversation around your organization. You can implement it across a variety of channels using the new NationBuilder scheduling feature. I'll be discussing "Planning your communication strategy with flexibility" on NationBuilder Live this Thursday at 11a.m. Pacific, 2 p.m. Eastern.