The growth of digital in the past several years has seen businesses strive to foster more authentic connections in the ways they communicate with and respond to customers.
In an age where information is abundant and instantly accessible, it is imperative that companies establish trust and transparency as it relates to their business practices, positions on different areas of corporate social responsibility (CSR), and the contributions they make in their respective communities.
This is borne out in the findings from Salesforce's 2021 edition of the State of the Connected Customer. "Eighty-nine percent of customers expect companies to clearly state their values, and 90% expect them to clearly demonstrate those values," the report reads.
Beyond the importance of brand storytelling to establish the company's voice and style, businesses can demonstrate deeper purpose and authenticity by focusing on community-level content that can be tailored to more local, personalized needs.
Whether it's how companies move to respond in the face of crises or communicating their role in delivering better economic or environmental outcomes in their local communities, the trend toward community-focused content accompanies the push for companies to state and speak their values truthfully and clearly.
If you haven't already incorporated it into your content-marketing strategies, here are some examples of how it works and how it can help your organization thrive.
Defining community-focused content
At its core, community-focused content is the practice of creating content focused on and for a specific community, whether that community is based on geography, background, interest areas or other demographics.
Key features that define community-focused content:
- The content shows how the company and its offerings apply to or are relevant for various communities. For instance, instead of only having a product page explaining the clinical benefits of a new medication, a company could roll out a series of blog posts that show how different groups are seeing improved quality of life from access to the medication.
- The content incorporates personal stories as a way to dive deeper into a topic and bring it to life for readers. For instance, a blog might focus on the daily experiences of a person in a specific community or might even be a guest post by that person.
- The content makes an effort to be more inclusive in words and tone to show sensitivity to various communities. If a brand is creating content focused on a part of the United States where Spanish is often spoken, for example, they should provide the content in both languages.
Why is community-focused content important?
There are many reasons for the rise of community-focused content. For one, as the pandemic continues and remote work remains common, people feel isolated. More authentic, personable content can help re-establish a measure of connectedness.
People are also becoming more focused on issues like the environment and social justice, and they want to support companies who are aligned with these efforts. According to a Cone Communications report, 71% of U.S. millennials hope companies will take the lead on the social issues they find important. Such concerns have led to increased content about corporate social responsibility, which aligns alongside community-focused content and has become increasingly important for brands today. What’s key is that the storytelling helps illustrate what companies are doing for good and for others.
A content strategy that includes community aspects can also have positive implications for hiring. According to Deloitte, 50% of millennials say they would take a pay cut to find work that matches their values. To attract the best talent, brands must show that they are doing their part for their communities.
How to deliver community-focused content
Once an organization decides to implement community-focused content into the strategy, it should pursue and execute it in an organized and thoughtful way to have an impact. Having the right content management tools is the best first step, as there are many ways that these tools can streamline the process:
- An organization could create microsites for different locations to appeal to different communities. It’s key to have the ability to publish to multiple channels from one system, however, so you can reach multiple sites and platforms that different groups might use.
- Another good option is localizing content through translation. This makes people in other countries or those who speak different languages feel included, and it's easily done through a CMS like Brightspot that supports localization.
- It can also be valuable to allow different people to create content in their own voice. For instance, an intern could write an article to appeal to the youth perspective. To do this, an organization must have content creation tools that can be easily used by multiple people. It’s also helpful to have a system that lets you review user-generated content in the same editorial interface as expert content.
- Assets such as photos and videos can enhance a story. These tools make it easier to tell great stories, and there’s a comfort when you can literally put a face to the name and the storyteller. The right CMS can make it easy to organize photo and video assets and integrate them into content.
Community-focused content in action: Walmart
Let’s take a look at community-focused content in action.
Major retailer Walmart worked with Brightspot to realize their goal of creating community-focused content as part of transforming its corporate communications. The company realized they needed to not only share content, but to engage stakeholders with brand stories.
Walmart wanted to share their rich history and convey their care for their communities, associates and environment, but in order to improve their storytelling, the company needed a CMS that could streamline the entire content-publishing process. With Brightspot, Walmart’s corporate communications team owns each website’s content calendar and can make changes quickly and easily as they work to attach human stories and faces to Walmart’s corporate news. With the right tools, even one of the world’s biggest companies made a successful pivot to community-focused content.