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How To Start Using A Collaborative Content Platform For Your Business
How To Start Using A Collaborative Content Platform For Your Business

To effectively leverage your collaborative content platform, you'll need to be well prepared. Careful planning and correct allocation of resources is an important part of the early stages of collaborative content mining. Here are a few key things to consider before you start.

1. Address the big questions

What are your goals as a company? Think big. Think long-term. How can your audience, fans, customers, users, clients, help you get there? As a business owner, you should be intermittently asking yourself these questions already. They are especially pertinent when engaging a collaborative content platform where you are looking to build a long term relationship with your customer community.

On that topic, who are your audience, fans, customers, users, clients? Write up a persona of your typical collaborative content enabler and map out their behaviours. This will help you decide which social media platforms and collaborative content structures are right for your business. How are your media plans supporting the broader company goals? Make sure there is no conflict and that the message supports the broader mission statement.

Now you've figured out what you want to achieve and who you're targeting, you can do a cross check to make sure the aims of your social depth mining align with your business's broader goals. Make sure there is no conflict in message or tone.

How educated is your team about your collaborative content platform and its merits? Train them if need be. The notion of collaborative content and how best to leverage it is relatively novel. You mustn't assume your team has any idea about how to use it and why they should care.

How ambitious is your plan? Be realistic. Start with goals that are achievable. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is your thriving online community.

2. Have a timeframe

It’s important that any project, including integrating collaborative content in your website, has an implementation timeframe, a start date, a planning phase, a launch date, and a maturation/growth phase. So get some dates on paper and decide which social media platforms you will use. You should decide how it will be integrated into your business. Having a set date for launch will push you to get it set up and arrange for early testing and a soft launch.

Why a soft launch? Because observing a small number of interactions is typically easier than looking at huge amounts of data. In this day and age, a soft launch means you don't announce your plans on social or in an official transmission. This is a time for your team to work out any kinks in their processes and nail the tone. Be clear about how long you'll stay in a beta testing phase, before strategically investing marketing dollars in your collaborative content strategy.

3. Start small

We all want to launch a blog and become the next Huffington Post. Launched in 2005, it took Arianna 6 years to reach 37 million monthly views. That was right before she sold it for US$300 million to AOL. Still, the Huffington Post started as a blog that ran solely on user-generated content. While it's grown into something more structured, it still grew from a small, dedicated community.

Just don’t settle on staying small. Collaborative content elements must be active to work...there's nothing sadder than following a dead hashtag. There also nothing more suspicious than a product that hasn't been reviewed for years. The work you have to do to lay the foundations is to stoke the fire of your online community. Do the work to get people talking, interacting on Twitter and reviewing your products. Once your community has gained some momentum, you can aggregate their efforts for some serious digital presence and as a key element of your marketing strategy.

4. Take it seriously

Don't let your team buy into the pervading idea that social media is trivial. Social media might be loaded with trivial elements but it's the future of marketing. Make an exhaustive list of what needs to be done and share the responsibility. Design clearly designated roles for each micro-responsibility and impress upon your team the importance of their tasks, even down the responding to Zomato reviews and replying to Facebook comments. Clear responsibilities, deadlines, goals and a reward system will keep your team engaged and let them share in the excitement and success.

If you spread the responsibilities across a broad team, and we recommend you do, make sure you invest in training. Training across the team will ensure a clear message and unified tone. Clearly written processes for dealing with any situation will also help.

5. List what can go wrong

Ask yourself, what is the worst-case scenario? What is the best course of action if the worst happens? Being prepared will help you through the initial fear of leveraging user-generated content and help keep you calm. User-generated content can bring unique emergencies with it. For example, an angry customer might write an illogical, unreasonable tirade in a public place. How will you respond to their comments? One of your employees might become embroiled in an online scandal and the internet mob might demand you, as the employer, execute justice. What’s your policy on that? Your content might go viral for the wrong reasons. Do you make an official statement?

Actually writing out a risk management plan can shed light on some simple solutions to intimidating problems. Usually, taking the approach of transparency and friendliness will ensure you minimise any damage and keep customers on your side.

6. Just do it

As much as you should take your foray into collaborative content platforms seriously and plan accordingly, sometimes the best way to learn is just to get started. Forget waiting until everything is perfect and in place. Just do it. You may already have an online community you can work with, even if it's small, doing something is better than doing nothing.

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