Community sharing is community caring.
Take it from me: prominently curating your members’ content will profoundly accelerate growth. It’s also pretty darn fun.
I’ve run my company, BreatheHeavy, since 2004. While many online businesses shuttered because of social media’s looming presence, mine thrived because of the community. Full disclosure? I had no idea creating a community back in 2004 would become the not-so-secret ingredient to staying alive. Ahh, if only I knew then what I know now.
Hindsight is 20/20 (that number gives me anxiety, am I right?), but I never fully understood or appreciated how immensely game-changing community building is.
Related: The Importance of Moderation, err... Community Guidance (New Video!)
In the past, I focused my efforts on writing news articles (in Wordpress) while my Invision Community community ran rampant. I felt my presence needed to take center stage. That cast a shadow on my community and thus my members. I unintentionally muted their voices by exclusively promoting mine.
That was a colossal mistake, but the greatest learning lesson.
One year ago, I decided to pivot and shift all my energy towards fostering my community; the results were astounding! I saw more than a 100% increase in unique visits compared to the previous year.
The most powerful change I made was shining a light on the content my members created.
My website went from being a news site to a community.
I constructed a new homepage that featured topics created by myself AND my members. This not only manifested a dynamic, constantly varied homepage, but also incentivized members to post thought-provoking and engaging topics in the hopes their content gets featured.
In my community, topics that are featured on the homepage are considerably more viewed and commented on than topics that aren’t. I suspect you’d find similar results.
Here’s how I set up my new homepage:
I utilized Invision Community’s custom blocks feature. It’s available with the Pages application.
I created a new block plugin, selected “topic feed” from the list, then set the permissions in the Feed Configuration tab to only show “featured” topics from members. I also used @opentype's SuperTopics plugin to give a more-polished look. Might sound a bit complex, but it’s rather intuitive.
Community leaders can “feature” members’ content by selecting their topic and in the moderation panel, tap “Feature.”
“Featuring” content isn’t the only powerful tool Invision Community has baked into its software to highlight your members’ content. We’ve also carefully crafted a promotion option to manually select content that’s included on the “Our Picks” page and corresponding block. This is another powerful method to curate community content.
We created a guide on how to set up promotion/our picks.
With great power comes great responsibility
The ability to “feature” content is a privilege only moderators in your community should have access to – at least in the beginning. Avoid giving any member the ability to freely feature their own content onto the homepage - instead, focus on manually curating the content. Be selective and choose what topics you want to represent your community.
By creating a standard, your homepage won’t feature any and all content. Instead, it’ll display items you believe will pack the greatest punch.
Featuring your members' content visibly shows your desire to embrace your community. It’s one thing to comment on members’ topics, it’s another to feature and promote them for all to see. That’s the secret sauce of curation.
Do you agree? Disagree? Have any suggestions? Curate content in your own community? How many questions can I ask in a row? Drop us a line in the comments below!