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5 Things to Consider When Sharing Product Content to your Social Community

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Miryam Brand

Miryam Brand, Suite Solutions

As customer communities become increasingly central to your corporate communication, it has become imperative to give these social communities access to quality product content. But before you share your product content to your customer community, there are some important things to consider:

1)  How structured is your content?

Any content you share needs to be part of a customer conversation. That means that content must be shared in topic form – only the relevant topic should be shared in any given comment or thread. If your content is only accessible in static PDFs with little internal structure, this will be almost impossible. But if your content is already structured with meaningful classification and taxonomy, it will be much easier for you (and even your customers) to find and share the precise topic that answers customer questions and enriches their discussions.

2)  Where will your shared product content reside?

Essentially, you have two options for sharing your content with the community. You can:

a) Provide a link to content in your content portal within a post to your social community.

This is a way to share your content, but it presents several problems:
– It will take users out of your community site.
– When you provide an external link in a social post, especially to rapidly changing content, you risk the possibility of a broken link in the (near) future.
– If your content portal requires a login name and password, this will either block the user entirely or cause customer frustration. Customers frequently “give up” rather than re-entering authentication information.
– Finding the content in your portal, copying the link, and adding it to the correct post can take time. The amount of time and the “pain” a user needs to go through to add an external link means that even those employees who really want to share product content with customers will rarely do so.

b) Publish your content directly to your social community site.

This solution prevents the problems inherent to linking to an external portal. However, it requires that you have a mechanism in place to automatically update the content published to your community whenever it is updated in your content portal.

3) How public is your community site? How public is your content?

If your community is public while your content is not, you will need to create closed groups on your community site where you can share your content safely. If you have proprietary, customer-specific content, it should be tagged accordingly and only shared on a closed group that is specific to that customer.

4) Who is the moderator of your community? Is s/he familiar with your content?

Your community moderator (whether an employee or an enthusiastic customer) should be familiar enough with your content to share topics in customer discussions. One way to ensure content is shared is to make it both prominent and easily findable from within your social community. If your content has been published to your customer community, use your community’s built-in search tools to make it easier for your community moderator to share content.

5) How will customers know that your content is on your social site?

This may seem obvious, but remember that customers who are familiar with your community site are not expecting to see product content there — not yet. By anchoring your content in prominent places, and by making a point of linking to relevant topics in response to customer discussions, you can quickly let customers know that their community is also a great place to get relevant content and answers in your corporate content.

Would you like to share your own experiences with sharing content socially? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your feedback.

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