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Content is community!

It's not new that the internet talks about communities. I even wrote a text in July 2020 that you can check by clicking here on the subject, with a real example of a project for the launch of an audiobook that I led.

So, I want to start this article with a brief paragraph from the conclusion of my 2020 text: "There is nothing more important than your audience. You can also call the audience a reader, consumer, fan, etc. It seems like that cliché of 'the customer is always right.' They are! The fan of an author, a title, or a universe of interest needs - always - to be the first group you think about when launching content and putting together a marketing plan. Fans love to be treated with the care they deserve as a reward for the loyalty they show."

That's it, this article could end here, as the other one did, but this time, this is our starting point 🙂

Before the arrival of the internet, the flow of content consumption was one-way: someone produced, and someone consumed. In other words, there was little (or no) interference from those who consumed content - in whatever format - on those who produced it. There were those news reports on Fantástico saying that Manoel Carlos (a famous Brazilian writer) heard "popular demand" and killed off character X from the nine o'clock soap opera. Much more as a way to broaden the conversation on the topic and increase the soap opera's ratings than any real interaction between creator and consumer.

But then came the internet, a place that radically changed two mechanics in the world of content: proximity and creation. To talk about the first, everyone today feels much closer and has - truly - many more points of contact with content creators than ever before. You can send a DM on Instagram, comment on a chapter released on a platform, like a story, ask a question on a podcast, and many other things. When we talk about the second point, it's even more obvious: the internet removed barriers to content creation and publication that flooded the world with stories, whether you find them good or not. Recording a video only requires a cell phone and an account on YouTube or some social network, publishing music only requires an instrument, a microphone - which can be the one on your phone - and an account with a distributor, and writing and publishing a book requires nothing more than internet access, a word processor (like the one on Google Drive I'm using now to write) and an account on one of the many self-publishing platforms. If you prefer, you can do this on your own free blog or in snippets on some social network.

But the fact is that there is a third element that has been transforming not only content consumption but also its creation and the influence that consumers have on creators: community.

This word is not unknown to anyone, but perhaps the way I'm using it here may not be so familiar to everyone. When we talk about a community here, we are talking about a group of users who use some tool to create, consume, and discuss certain content.

Let me start with an example from the podcasting world. Imagine you have your podcast with weekly episodes and you've found your audience, the people who are loyal and listen to your episodes every Tuesday. Then you start receiving messages from these people saying they want to talk more with you, discuss the weekly topics, learn more about the interviewees. So, you create a closed club, charging $10.00 per month to give your fans exclusive access to three things: a closed group to discuss episode topics, the uncut episode (more content, more discussion), and to add an air of exclusivity, next week's episode before it's released to everyone. You do this, and suddenly you have 1,000 subscribers paying $10.00 per month (1,000 loyal listeners for an established podcast is not bad), and there you go!

You've created a community around your universe (which, of course, needs to be nurtured and cared for) that generates an additional $10,000.00 per month in revenue, in addition to what you earn from advertising on your podcast, among other possible sources of income. I know at least a dozen podcasters who have this mechanism I described above.

Now let's go to the world of books: you are a hot romance author, you start publishing your books on a self-publishing platform, build a fan base of readers of your books, and start generating revenue. These fans ask for more content, and you also create a closed community, this time without charging, but people buy your books, discuss them, and you create a relationship where every new book, in addition to consulting them to choose character names, vote on covers, and other things, you know they will buy your new title as soon as it's released. This attracts the attention of a big publisher, which is looking for not only good content but also communities ready to buy what it publishes (and invest in it). You release this title, it's bought and shared by these fans, and you become a topic on the internet. Then a streaming platform sees you and buys the rights to make a movie from the book. Boom! Another hit. In this case, I also know people who have followed this formula and been successful, some even 🙂

Want another example? This one I'll name: Reese Witherspoon. Maybe you know her from Legally Blonde, Big Little Lies, or, like me, you're a passionate fan of The Morning Show (in which she acts and produces). Well, Reese understood the power of community in content a long time ago and created a book club that now has more than 2.5 million subscribers. What does she do? She suggests a title, gauges the club's interest, and when a title is widely read, discussed, and desired, she goes and buys the rights to produce the movie or series. Of course, it's not that simple, there's a lot of research, numbers, lawyers, and money involved, but it all fundamentally involves the community!

Another quick example: community and interactive content publishing platforms. The most well-known example is Wattpad. There's the power of the community, which not only consumes chapter by chapter what is created but also gives opinions, talks to the authors, and creates a conversation that generates engagement around the content.

And to do a quick plug, here at Skeelo, we launched gamification features in the app last month. In other words, the more you read, the more "nuts" (our squirrel's currency) you earn and exchange for other books without paying anything. All of this is based on the community of readers that we form and foster every day. The result? In the first month, we already increased reader retention in the app by 12% and had more than 13,000 books redeemed. Another example is our Halloween marathon, called Skeeloween, which brought together three creators from the book world for collective readings in the app. You can check all of this out on our social media and our app 🙂

I wanted to bring some examples here to say that nowadays, content is not just about what you create and publish, in whatever format. It's about creating a community that is engaged with your content, that starts a conversation on the topic, so that the content not only comes to life but also grows and strengthens, attracts attention, and reaches many more people.

It's always good to remember that our market is not just the market of pure and simple content; it's the attention market. It's about someone who, in a moment of availability, will choose to consume a certain content or any of the millions of others available out there. If you have a community to pull you back, that makes you feel like you belong (something so human and universal), and where you find more people who like the same things you do, you can be sure: your attention will be there most of the time!


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