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  Getting Content?
Content for a community can be a problem. How can an internal marketing organization be pushed to produce it?

Thank you! This is an outstanding question. In any community, whether it is internal (Intranet) or external, the majority of the rich content is produced by the users who visit it. This starts within the discussion area by providing insightful and engaging conversations that a user will want to participate in.

There are several ways in which to do this, thus creating community content:

1) On a new message boards make sure that there are "starter" posts (posts that start off the thread) that not only introduce the topic, but also ask the users questions or start a debate to get the ball rolling.
2) In a chat room or on a message board, moderation is helpful in guiding conversation and engaging participants. Moderators spur conversation by asking questions and raising topics/ideas that will encourage others to become involved.
3) Place a user's post or comment from chat on the main pages of your site (ones that receive a fair amount of traffic). Not only will this encourage others to want to provide their insight, but this will also provide a nice piece of recognition for the member who shared their comments.
4) Invite users to write something about themselves or about their use of the community which you can then publish. Doing so will encourage others to do the same and will bind the community around its knowledge of and interest in its participants.
5) Keep things fresh. People do not tend to respond to outdated information or messages which even are ageing somewhat. Create the sense of dynamism by archiving old or irrelevant topics, and therefore highlighting the new and relevant.

If your users are not providing you with the content you need, then your internal sources should be primed and ready to supply. The questions to ask yourself are as follows:

What forms of content are held internally which could be used to generate community discussions or activity?
Do you have writers you could call upon who would be happy to spend a few minutes on a regular column or other content which has relevance to the community?
Are you making use of news items or inside-knowledges to spark exchanges?
Is the basic content reason enough for users to visit?
If not, what can be added to create that value?
Is the content we do have being presented in most effective and compelling way?
Does your community know when new content is published?

There are literally 100s of ways in which your own content can be used within and to "feed" your community. If you find that there is a reluctance from your own staff to help, perhaps they do not understand what the community is and does, or do not understand its value. Explaining this might be all it takes to ensure you have their support and contributions.

Thank you again for your question. We wish you the very best of luck with your community!

- Jon Nix and Pam Thomas
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