Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Now, forager: Who brings you quality content and how do you reward them?

I just listened to an interview in which Chef Alice Waters explained the concept of employing a forager for her Chez Panisse restaurant. Instead of chanterelles, I was thinking of content and how many of my clients quest to sustain their blogs and Twitter feeds with quality content, but feel they're falling short. Here's what Waters has to say about doing the same in terms of the restaurant's core content, its ingredients:
...we had to come up with these ideas...we had to go out and look for those ingredients...it probably took us 10 years of foraging to come to that realization [that the restaurant was about its ingredients]. And we hired a forager, in fact, who became part of the staff of the restaurant, whose job it was to go out and to find the people who were growing or raising animals, everything from fish to eggs to fruit to vegetables. We were looking for people that really cared about what they were doing and could provide us with the ingredients for the restaurant. 
In fact, we did write-ups on the different farms. We'd invite them to come to the restaurant for dinner, and we'd make this arrangement with them to be a reliable buyer so that they could sort of grow for us and be assured of an income.
I've begun thinking of my best sources of information as foragers for my blogs. Who's foraging for you? You can start by making sure your team, donors, customers and supporters think of themselves as your foragers, but dig deeper. Who retweets you or otherwise shares your content? How do you let them know what you need? One of the best Google+ ideas I've seen so far involves making a circle just for people who share your content--they're your known foragers.

You can create foragers by asking your followers for content, too: questions, fill-in-the-blanks, polls, or good old direct requests. Once you start letting people know what you're looking for, they'll get better at bringing it to you, either in the form of requests or leads you should know about. Do as Waters did, and keep profiles of your most prolific finders. What are they good at finding for you?

Finally, reward your foragers. That means give them credit, inside information, or something they'll value--which means you need to ask them about that, too. Start a deeper dialogue with your good sources. You won't regret having foragers for your blog, website or social posts.

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