Community Narrative: How Content and Social Sharing Foster Engagement

Community Narrative: How Content and Social Sharing Foster Engagement

This post is the third in a five-part blog series centered on the digital marketing topics that we most frequently discuss with our brand customers. Read on!

I just read a Contently blog Q&A interview with Jessica Bennett, a former Newsweek reporter turned Tumblr executive editor and now the editorial director for Lean In, the non-profit organization that Sheryl Sandberg created in conjunction with the release of her best-selling book (also entitled Lean In). [Side note: Brightcove sponsored the live stream of Sheryl Sandberg's book tour stop at the Harvard Club in Boston this spring; photos can be found here.] I found this Q&A really fascinating given Bennett's extensive experience as a journalist in both the traditional and new media sphere and her efforts as the content and storytelling lead for the Lean In community. Bennett describes her hiring at Lean In as almost happenstance; in need of a job after being laid off from Tumblr in advance of its acquisition by Yahoo, Bennett pitched Sandberg on content as a way to continuously engage the vast community Sandberg had amassed through the popularity of Lean In. Bennett got the job of managing said content--and Lean In has become a wealth of video, multimedia and written assets as well as a prime example of a successful online community.

Within the interview, this quote from Bennett stood out specifically:

"It's fun to be part of a place where the goal is the mission, not simply clicks. It's really about sparking compelling, smart conversation around these issues more so than going over our traffic numbers with a fine-tooth comb."

This sentiment rings true for non-profit and for-profit brands alike; unlike media companies, brands have an opportunity to create content that focuses solely on the topics and issues that they know their core audiences care deeply about. Through content, brands can build wonderful relationships with their existing follower base and at the same time reach new audiences through the social/viral sharing of that content.

To embrace the full brand-building potential that social sharing offers, it's important to take note of the functional and technical components that matter, including:

  • Social Sharing Controls: To encourage your community to share your compelling, thought-provoking, wonderful (you know your videos are awesome) content assets with members of their broader network, you have to make things easy. For example, Brightcove Video Cloud customers have the option to allow viewers to immediately share video content to Facebook and Twitter with a single click.
  • Facebook Whitelisting: It's important that the online video platform technology that you choose is whitelisted by Facebook--meaning, it's an approved, trusted Facebook partner. This allows your branded video player to automatically appear on fan pages and in Facebook news feeds.
  • Social Content Extensions: Consider including ratings capabilities, chat functions and in-player comments to create further dialogue and excitement surrounding your video material. This is particularly powerful during live video events.

The point is: your video content is only truly valuable to the community in the long-term if it sparks conversation and motivates your audience to want others to embrace the entertainment or education material that they themselves have enjoyed. The content makeup and its production value matter, of course, but ease of distribution, sharing options and immediate gratification through chat are also relevant.

What brands--and their communities--do a stellar job of encouraging content sharing? We'd love to hear from you in the comments.