Community Building February 20, 2020

How I Gather News to Help Build Communities

Rosie Sherry @rosiesherry

Gathering and sharing news and updates is a bit of an art and it's a time consuming one too.

I actually think that this is where many communities end up failing. When there isn't someone or some kind of process that brings relevant information to the community then everything else starts to wither.

Why gather news?

  • people need or want to be kept up to date
  • it's a time consuming task that people appreciate, though they usually don't * recognise how important it really is
  • the act of gathering news is a natural way for you to learn and understand your community better
  • if you understand your people you can serve them better
    often community is about amplifying other people's voices and giving them an opportunity to be heard, this is a great way to do it

What kind of news can you gather?

Of course it depends on the community and why it exists, here are some examples:

  • discussions posts
  • blog posts, podcasts, (YouTube) videos
  • newsletters
  • news and press publications
  • books
  • events (yours or others)
  • tutorials and courses
  • comment snippets from people and social media
  • jobs
  • images, Instagram, Pinterest, Tweets

How to gather news?

I find there needs to be a real focus in on developing a process and habit to gathering information.

Here are some examples:

  • follow hashtags on Twitter/LinkedIn/[a social platform] - create a process of doing quick searches once or twice a week to find interesting things.
  • follow blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels - this can take time to get going, but once you have a list it becomes a super power
  • RSS is very much underrated - it can be used to keep on top of news sources and you have them brought to you rather than manually checking websites.
  • Automate what you can - RSS can be used for automation of newsletters, for example. Or you can opt in on some platforms to get regular updates on new content. If you have access to developers and they have time to support you, ask them if there is anything fancy that can glue together.
  • Look for tools - the web is an awesome place. There are new tools being created all the time, try to find ones that may integrate well with what you are already doing. For example, if you use Slack, then Lowdown may be a great tool to keep your community in the loop.
  • Bookmark things on the go - it could be liking something on Twitter. Or I've used Flipboard in the past. Currently I also use the old school Pinboard to bookmark things too. The key point is to not rely on your memory.
  • Be consistent - people like to know what to expect. If you aren't consistent you will lose trust as a reliable source.

How to Publish News

Once you get into a flow and habit of collecting news then you need to figure out what to do with it all.

With a bit of focus you can actually make this a never ending source of content and ideas.

Also crucial to publishing news, it's important to think about how you can reuse what you create. From a business, budgeting and perhaps even a sanity perspective this is crucial.

Some ideas to get you going:

  • send out to your email list
  • publish a web version on your website
  • tweet it, as a whole, or find individual snippets to tweet
  • find something or a few things to share from it on Instagram
  • take some of the information and cross post them to your Slack
  • give credit and tag people where relevant
  • see where you can share the bits of information in the newsletter to other websites or communities...yes, even if it is not directly relevant to your community website
  • read what you are sharing, keep notes of ideas, themes and trends: use them to start conversations within your community platform or on social media.
  • we all source our info from somewhere, try to stand out with what you produce.

Track and be mindful

I'm not one for getting too engrossed in stats, of course I don't ignore them either. My general mindset is that getting overly concerned with data can distract you from the more human side of building community. Finding the balance between data and human psychology is key.

Communities need to survive and the people who lead and work within them need to be mindful about where they spend their time. Everything they work on should be making an impact.

Even if a community isn't set up as a money making thing, there are people behind it that still need to make things happen without burning themselves out. It's important that sustainability of the community is kept in mind.

  • look to see what people are actually doing with what you share
    ask for feedback
  • look for unrequested feedback (compliments, whining, etc)
  • does the gathering of news support the overall mission of the community
  • does it help people keep engaged and remind them that you still exists
  • are you changing with the times?
  • are people reading or sharing what you make?

Thanks for getting this far! I'm in the early days of trying to form a writing habit for my website over at rosie.land, I would love to hear if you find this helpful.

I also, how meta (!), gather news for a community building weekly newsletter, using the above guidelines to do it. You can subscribe here: http://community.rosie.land/

  1. 2

    Brilliant stuff Rosie cheers for writing this and the shout out for Lowdown 😊

  2. 2

    +100 for an rss reader

  3. 2

    this is gold, often goes unsaid

  4. 2

    This is such a valuable resource. Thank you!

  5. 1

    This is great Rossie. Quite inspiring. Am going to implement this on my community.

  6. 1

    I love the idea of curation.

    And that's something I do when I first started hacking LinkedIn.

    1. List a bunch of keywords that are relevant or related to my work
    2. Search for them on LinkedIn, see what are the more engaging content
    3. Engage with the content, leave comments, value add, answer questions
    4. Then share other's posts

    Eventually, you have a great number of folks who would then self-select to be part of your community.

  7. 1

    Community is the best source of content for community! :D I suppose it's a little different when the community is centered on news but... even then there's bound to be newshounds in the community that sniff things out and will gladly share it.

    I'm forever asking people what kind of content they'd like from me. Once the community is large enough there's an endless supply of content ideas and news coming in. Then a new problem appears... what to do with it all! lol

  8. 1

    Thanks Rosie, great advice. I have been overthinking the whole process.

  9. 1

    Thank you so much for sharing Rosie!

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