Content strategy for associations is different

Why? Because content is our business. We can’t give it all away.

Have you read the feature article in the August 2011 edition of Associations Now? It’s called “Map Out Your Content Strategy” and it’s a pretty good overview of the content challenges that every association faces.

For me, there is no cliche more cringe-inducing than “content is king.” Thankfully, the AN article does not include that phrase. If content were king, associations would all be royalty online. We have content. Tons of content. For us, the challenge is not finding new and interesting things to post, it’s posting it in a way that stops people in their tracks and compels them to dig deeper.

That’s an art.

Back to the article. It takes a pretty communications-centric approach to the question of content. Which is great when everything is open and free and you’re just trying to get people to pay attention. But that’s not the whole story, and if you approach content strategy purely from that angle, well…ruh roh.

Even in the information age, content has value. When we (the SocialFishes) approach content strategy, we think about optimizing the value of every piece of content, and then applying an appropriate delivery method. For example (just scratching the surface here):

  1. Public and open – typically a blog post, website update, or Twitter chat
  2. Public but requires form completion to access (email address or website sign-up) – typically a white paper, or webinars
  3. Member-only but free as a benefit – typically a magazine, or peer-to-peer discussion forums or member community.
  4. For sale, but free for members – typically a magazine, light research, or webinars
  5. For sale, but reduced price for members – typically a book, research report, and/or webinars
  6. For sale, but only to members – typically research or customized analysis

Huh…it looks a little like a sales funnel. Only tastier. And fried. Now, naturally, you want to lead people through a sales cycle from public and open to becoming a member and paying for premium content.

That’s an art, too.