When building an online community, one of the top recommendations is to seed the community with interesting content. But what if you already have a great content site and want to build a community around that? Well great news, you are already well on your way!
Seen another way though, creating a community around your content is a major imperative. With all the effort that goes in to creating great content it’s a shame that your audience really will just consume it on your site and then go elsewhere to discuss it (if there is anywhere). They may link to it from another site, such as FB, and while you appreciate the inbound link, you’d really like the discussions and thus the page views and time on site to be happening on your site. Wouldn’t it be better if people linked to your community because they wanted their friends to come over and start discussing your content there?
This strikes at the essence of the content builder’s dilemma. Entire business models are built around finding, bookmarking and linking to your content, but you are only getting a very small slice of the pie. Why? Because people come to your site, view the content, and then leave. If you had an active community where they could stay and discuss the issues surrounding the content; and branch off into different, related or unrelated discussion topics, then instead of 1-2 page views per visitor you end up with 15+ page views per visitor.
The funny thing about it is that your most loyal visitors are probably aching to connect with each other. Why? Because they have a common link (the interest in your content) that they can’t find through the general social networks such as Facebook where they connect with people they already know. The truth is they probably have more in common with someone who likes the same content than someone they went to grade school with.
So how do you give them what they need? Since they’ve already got something to talk about, they need somewhere to talk about it, they need the most intuitive tools to help them get started, and this should be happening on your site so they don’t have far to go. So what to do? Add a discussion forum that is tightly integrated with your content, that’s what!
It’s not like this is revolutionary either. Among the community tools used by Community Managers surveyed in the Online Community Report, discussion forums are the most prevalent. It’s just striking how many great content sites are not realizing the full value of their investment by building a discussion community.
With Vanilla, building an online community around your content has never been easier. With our advanced theming, you can style the community pages to look exactly like the rest of your site. Because it is hosted, you have none of the headache of setting it up and managing the infrastructure. Single-Sign-On is provided to your existing member database if you have one, and the forum system can act as your commenting system as well, directly connecting comments on content articles to on-going discussions in the forums. There are a suite of advanced plugins and add-ons to choose from, and because of its revolutionary modular architecture, the system can be further customized and added to in order to fit your vision of user experience in your content community.
If your site is running WordPress, you can access our WordPress Forum Plugin to do easy plug and play integration. If you are running a different CMS, it’s best to contact us so we can discuss the best way to do integration for you. Stop throwing money out the window by not building an online discussion community around your content!