Community Management Can Help Community Media Survive, Thrive
National and state budget cuts present a two-front war for community media.
On one front, community media proponents can engage in political processes that shape policies affecting community broadcasting. The second front poses a more strategic approach that encourages an understanding of all the challenges and opportunities facing community media.
Addressing The Community Outreach Challenge
Money might solve a media station’s outreach problem, but putting whatever money is available to its most effective use can be a greater challenge. Instead of drowning in concerns about the lack of financial resources, community media organizers can use current opportunities to form a strategy that creates community support.
Here are three quick tips to get you started:
- Build strategic partnerships. Focus on negotiating, building and maintaining partnerships with community organizations that are most effective and meaningful for your organization. Identify key allies and maintain mutually beneficial relationships.
- Use effective outreach strategies. Enhancing your relationships with community members provides a framework for developing strategies that engage the broader community in supporting your organization’s mission.
- Craft clear communication. Establish the steps necessary to develop and disperse messaging that will help your audience clearly understand your mission, goals and strategy. Keep messages relevant, simple, clear and concise.
Utilizing Tech Tools For Community Media Outreach
Many of the tech tools available to community media can be used for free or at a very low cost. These tools help facilitate the engagement within a community that is crucial for effective community media outreach.
- Community Remarks: A map-based and crowdsourced commenting tool that encourages community dialogue and collects feedback
- Neighborland: An online forum that encourages civic leaders to participate in community discussions
- All Our Ideas: Crowdsourced research collected through surveys
- PublicStuff: A communication system that allows city residents to report community concerns
Regardless of the outreach tool you use, remember to establish goals for each tool. Measure the effectiveness of each tool in relation to reaching each goal, and measure how effective the tool is in targeting a specific group in your community.
Using Social Media And Community Management
Community management utilizes social media as a give-and-take platform to engage users with each other and with community media itself.
In a Forbes article, author Jayson DeMers defines community management as the process of “making a community stronger by attracting new people to a community, reaching out to older or inactive community participants to bring them back into the fold, or giving more opportunities for current community participants to engage with one another.”
Successful community management includes three key elements:
- Defining your community’s shared values
- Empowering community members
- Measuring community members’ behavior and actions
Community management’s main goal is to grow an overall brand in the community by creating real value with community members. Social media is a useful and necessary tool that allows community media, through its members, to strategically create and disperse station content across a variety of marketing channels.
Leveraging Community And Social Influence Marketing
Social influence marketing is a growing field in which participants listen, create, share and influence each other’s thoughts and preferences. Here’s how community media can best use social influence marketing:
- Work with local social media influencers to create or publish your social media content.
- Use tools like followerwonk, Traackr and Klout to recruit the right influencers.
- Create mutual value. (Remember, you’re establishing a mutually beneficial relationship.)
- Measure what you see, not what you think is happening.
Social influence marketing works best when community media directors recruit influencers who have quality content, engaged followers and whose values align with your community.
Community media can use the same social media tools and emerging technologies that commercial television uses to get messages out to potential community members and to develop a strong and sustainable following.
Social media and citizen journalism tools allow community media the opportunity to reach new community members and older or inactive community participants:
- Twitter Live: a live streaming feature available through the Twitter platform
- Facebook Live: a live streaming feature available through the Facebook platform
- oTranscribe: a free web app that allows journalists to transcribe recorded interviews
These are just a few of the many tools available to help community media compete with commercial television in the digital space.
Turning Community Members Into Engaged Crowdfunding Advocates
Crowdfunding is highly effective fundraising arranged around engaged and enthusiastic community members.
Crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo allow community media centers to post their projects so they can attract donations. An article on GlobalGiving.org points out that the most successful fundraiser campaigns have a clear objective and a deadline with specific donation requests.
In addition, a 2016 Pew Research Center study reports that, from April 2009 to September 2015, Kickstarter was a major hub for crowdfunding journalism, with more than 650 journalism-related projects fully funded, receiving a total of nearly $6.3 million.
A basic crowdfunding project includes four key elements:
- Planning: Develop content, choose crowdfunding platforms, choose partner organizations, and set your budget.
- Promoting: Solicit gifts and pledges to use as marketing leverage, establish a social media strategy, and select rewards to give to donors.
- Implementing: Establish a content schedule and implement your social media and marketing strategy.
- Following up: Send out rewards, update donors and community members of production schedule, and maintain the buzz related to your programming.
With proper planning, crowdfunding can grow a center’s donor base and increase membership. Successful crowdfunding requires community media directors to think of participants as members joining a funding community.
With more than 3,000 community media stations across the U.S., these channels provide important information like community events, community-generated content, and local government.
These channels offer a vital service to under-served urban, suburban, and rural communities. It’s important that community media directors address their outreach and funding challenges by leveraging tools like social media marketing, social influence and crowdfunding.
Original publication May 9, 2017 on Forbes.com – Community Media Can Thrive Using Strategic Community Management
Genia Stevens is a digital marketer and Forbes columnist. She is owner and managing partner of Belwah Media, an award-winning integrated digital marketing agency with offices in Madison, WI and Chicago, IL. Genia Stevens is passionate about community media, tech tools, podcasting, and everything digital. Connect with Genia on LinkedIn and Twitter.