A member of the Chamber of Commerce Professionals Group on Facebook asked:
QUESTION: Do you offer your members to provide content for your blog or website? Are there any specific policies you have staff follow for the contribution? – please share. THANK YOU!
Chamber members are a great source of content and if they’re willing to provide you with some, jump on the opportunity here’s why:
Why You Should Use Member Content
Directing your spotlight onto them gives them an opportunity to shine. It’s free exposure for them to be included as a content contributor in your newsletter, blog or on your website. It allows them to share their knowledge with the community and they may gain new customers this way.
You get content
It’s a fair trade. You need content. They have a fresh for voice. Win. Win.
They bring a new voice
We all have a writing style and tone. A new voice adds additional interest to your blog, website or newsletter. They will also invite their friends and family to check it out. They might not share your content but they will definitely share their own.
They dig deeper
If they are, for instance a tax expert, they may be better suited to write a column about the new tax laws affecting small business than you are. Find your community specialists and see if they’re willing to provide content.
They can get away with writing something you can’t
If there’s an interesting conversation going on in your community, invite opposing sides to square off on the chamber blog. This can be a great way to get the community talking. Ask people to weigh in on social media about the posts. You could even make it a contest asking people to support a side.
NOTE: if you decide to do this make sure everyone knows this is a forum for debate not a place for personal attacks. This sort of dialogue is risky but often pays big dividends when it’s done respectfully.
Guidelines for Member-Generated Content
You should give your members some direction when providing content. It is much better to do so ahead of time so that they can draft something that benefits the chamber and places them in a good light, than it is to over edit the content once it is submitted. After all, no one likes a red pen.
Make sure they understand:
- This content is not an ad. While they should show off their industry knowledge. They should not wheel and deal on behalf of their business.
- The audience reading your blog, newsletter or website. Let them know you’re interested in content that will appeal to business owners or people in your community. You want content that’s meaningful to your audience. This is not a rant or an editorial. . . unless it is.
- The length of the piece you’re looking for (word count) and who is responsible for the image. Generally you should be in charge of images unless the image they’re planning on using is their own. You could also use a picture of the member.
A member who’s willing to help you with content is a valued one. Make sure you express your appreciation for all contributions. Do so publicly and often and you just might be surprised how many people want to help in the future.