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No short cuts

James Evelegh looks at some of the main takeaways from the recent ‘How publishers can generate ROI from community’ webinar.

By James Evelegh

No short cuts

A successful community is a hugely valuable asset to a publisher, but building one takes time, patience, hard work and resource. There are no short cuts.

In our latest webinar (a recording of which you can catch here), Guild’s Gregor Young looked at how publishers can generate ROI from community.

Strategically, he said, it’s all about creating “year-long engagement to drive the shift to recurring revenues”.

He quoted FT CMO Finola McDonnell who said, “community is the next phase of media” and “engagement is our north star metric for predicting lifetime value”.

Gregor left us with lots of takeaways on the value of a vibrant community and how to build one; here are five that stood out for me:

  1. Your community needs a clear sense of purpose. Members need a reason to show up and get involved.
  2. Resource it properly. Resourcing is an issue often addressed late in the set-up cycle. In Gregor’s experience, editorial teams are not the best community managers; they like posting content, but are less keen on hanging around to discuss it…
  3. Play the long game. Building a community takes time and hard work. You shouldn’t expect instant results.
  4. You need an excellent host (resourcing again): you can’t expect people to just start chatting amongst themselves, certainly not in the early days. You need to be making connections, facilitating, posting, replying and drawing people in.
  5. Beware low quality engagement. Early on, you might be tempted to welcome any sign of life within your nascent community but resist the temptation. Not all engagement is equal. Set expectations and maintain high standards. The tone of a community needs careful tending.

The reward for getting it right? Gregor had a quote from Joe Pulizzi, author, podcaster, marketing speaker and entrepreneur: “If you build a community that leans on you, you can generate the largest, most influential business in your industry.”

Worth the effort then.

You can catch James Evelegh’s regular column in the InPubWeekly newsletter, which you can register to receive here.