Your online community is a reflection of your workspace’s physical community, so you should invest time time and effort into building and nurturing it.
But, how should you go about it? Is it as simple as setting up a few social media profiles?
Not really. Allwork spoke to Cat Johnson, content strategist and coworking enthusiast, to learn about what workspace operators can do to build and nurture their online communities.
This article is part of our “we’re all about community” series.
Here’s a quick giveaway: it’s all (mostly) about content.
“One thing people tend to overthink is that they can’t afford to make content. If you can give content an hour a week, you can get something good going.”
Be empowered by content. It’s a great way to reach people.
Cat recommends workspace operators blog at least once a month, although ideally you should put out something once a week.
“Not every post has to be perfect. Put it up and, if need be, adjust from there. See what works for you rather than spending too much time creating a massive post that you want to be perfect and then have people not respond to it as you expect.”
Word of the wise: it takes time to (really) figure out what works for you.
Regardless of what you’re writing about, Cat stresses the importance of making it something that people look forward to, or learning from. “You can write about upcoming events, give tips, put together a roundup of news and resources, share the key takeaways from a past event, or do a mix of all. Start writing and see what people respond to the most and let go of things that aren’t working for you.”
You won’t see a change from one day to another, so don’t be discouraged if at first things are slow-moving.
“Content marketing is slow-going; you have to be consistent and patient. You have to consistently publish high-quality posts, podcasts, videos, or any other type of content. And you have to be consistent with your voice.”
Once you’ve found your voice, find out what works on different online community platforms. “Twitter is different than Facebook and LinkedIn; what people expect to see on each platform varies greatly. Learn to listen to your audience.”
Although social media is important, you shouldn’t rely solely on these platforms. “I think it’s important workspace operators know the importance of a social presence, but also of starting something of their own. It can be a newsletter or a blog, but in either case, make sure you have a way to reach your audience directly.”
As with your physical workspace, the value isn’t on the space or location; the value is in the community. The same goes for your online community; whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn; or whether you’re sending out a newsletter, posting regularly on your blog, or hosting a discussion board, the value will be on how much people are engaging with each other and with your workspace brand.
“Online communities of coworking spaces should be an expansion of their physical community. If you have a really active Facebook page or Twitter, or if you have a high newsletter open rate, I think that definitely reflects back into an engaged community in the physical space.”
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There’s a reason Cat is a content strategist and not just a content creator.
“Oftentimes, people don’t have a clear focus on their strategy and individual posts.” You want to always think about who you are trying to reach, why what you’re sharing is valuable to them, and how you’re going to reach them.
Here are three tips from Cat to help you get started on the right track:
- If you’re writing blogs, put CTAs (call to action) on them. Doing so will help you measure your post’s engagement and it’ll provide you with valuable insights to better understand your audience.
- SEO is a wormhole of data-nerdery, but some basics include keeping tabs on your traffic, sharing posts on social media, and keeping an eye on your newsletter subscriptions. Additional SEO quick tips include: making sure your blog headline has SEO elements and that the first paragraph and sentence hit the SEO keyword you chose.
- Send out a newsletter, but do so strategically and with purpose. Don’t send out a newsletter just for the sake of it; if it’s not interesting and engaging, people will unsubscribe.
Closing off the conversation, Cat re-stressed the importance of patience and consistency and added that “if you build a platform that is rich, high-quality, and robust, you will stand out.”
For more amazing insights and tips on content marketing, check out Cat’s e-book “Coworking Outloud”.