Your nonprofit has a blog. Awesome. You have a plan that outlines post content and frequency. Fantastic. You’re ready to roll up your sleeves and start creating content…wait…that’s a lot of content. How are you going to produce it all? You’re going to crowdsource your blog content.
Of course, your editorial planning should have factored in your ability to deliver; as in get it all written. But projects appear out of nowhere, priorities shift, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up. This is why crowdsourced content will save the day.
As a nonprofit communicator, you’re lucky. You have a crowd. A community. Here are just a few people you might turn to when you need community generated content:
Different individuals will have varying levels of interest and capacity to contribute. But keep an open mind and be creative; there is an opportunity for everyone. Following are some ways you can tap into your community for blog content.
1. Cultivate a team of guest contributors to write articles
If done well, this is the most obvious and effective way to lighten your content production load in the long term. Over time, cultivate a group of guest writers with a diverse set of perspectives, who will contribute articles on a regular basis. Be open to the idea that ‘regular’ can mean different things to different contributors (e.g. weekly, monthly, quarterly). It’s worth being flexible if it means getting awesome content.
2. Pose a question on social networks and use the answers to inform your content
Have you cultivated an active community or group of communities online? Does your organization have a lively LinkedIn group or company page? A vibrant Facebook page or group, strong Twitter following or even a Google+ community? (By the way, if you do, indeed, have a vibrant Google+ community, please do tell us more in the comments! J)
Turn to your most vibrant online communities for content! If you’re working on a blog post that could benefit from multiple perspectives, pose a question to the group. Use the responses to inform, inspire, and guide your writing; with permission of the commenter, include particularly insightful comments directly in your post. If you’ve been struggling, this approach will breathe new life into your work!
3. Turn to thought contributors for “round up” posts
I have found that some of the most popular and most widely-shared posts over at the Nonprofit MarCommunity are our “round up” posts. I turn to a group I’ve identified over time as willing thought contributors and ask them to answer a specific question, within a specific word count.
This approach works well for list-style posts that round up valuable advice or expertise in “best of” or “top tip” format; making it a great opportunity for board members and subject matter experts. Some of these contributors might also be willing bloggers. However, for some, this is the level of content contribution they can handle, so embrace the concise but valuable nuggets!
The bulk of the work for these posts is in identifying who to ask, reaching out, and compiling the answers; you’ll only have to write an introduction and possibly a conclusion.
4. Review inquiries to inspire new content ideas
This is about crowdsourcing ideas and tapping into content you already have. Find out what questions you’re getting at reception, your 1-800 phone line, and via your general inquiries email address. Also, find out what questions potential donors and volunteers ask when deciding whether or not to support your organization and what questions program participants are asking.
These questions will give you great topics; use blog posts to answer them. Better yet, invite the team members who normally field these inquiries, including reception, call centre, fund development, program, and volunteer development staff to write (or draft) the content for you, joining your group of contributors.
5. Create a blog carnival
Greg McFarlane does a nice job of summing up a blog carnival in his post on Problogger.
Host a blog carnival: a roundup of timely posts from other bloggers, concentrating on a particular area of interest. Your colleagues write the posts, then you assemble, fold, collate, and link to them for presentation to your regular audience.
To see an example, check out the nonprofit blog carnival, which has likely covered topics of interest to you.
Host your own blog carnival, connecting with other organizations who cover topics related to your cause on their own blogs. You’ll benefit by offering new content of interest to your audiences and by bringing new audiences to your blog. It’s also simply a nice way to collaborate with like-minded organizations.
6. Ask for stories
Through your blog, social networks, or email newsletter, ask for stories. Open this up to everyone and ask individuals to share their experiences as donors, volunteers, program participants, advocates… whatever their connection might be with your cause and organization.
Focus your request by making it specific; would you like the story as a written piece or told through photos, video, or audio content? Specify how long any of these should be in words, number of photos, minutes, etc. Indicate that you’ll be featuring the best stories on your blog, perhaps officially making it a contest or challenge.
Select the best stories for publication. Depending on the format, you might bring a collection together into one blog post or feature multiple stories as a series of posts. If the content needs a little help, finesse it into a case study.
Marlene Oliveira is a copywriter and communications consultant at moflow and founder of the Nonprofit MarCommunity. She specializes in helping nonprofits to produce better content and has worked in the sector since 1999. Marlene’s approach is to work with clients and community members, tapping into the knowledge and wisdom they already possess to help their communications “flow.” Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org and her web address is moflow.ca
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