How to Create a Social Media Content Calendar

It sounds a lot more complicated than it really is.  You can create one on Google, Outlook, or (what I do) through Publisher.

The trick is figuring out WHAT your audience wants to hear about and WHEN. That’s not easy to figure out necessarily either, unless if you have kept track of your analytics using something like Hootsuite or Bit.ly.  If you’ve been shortening your links using Hootsuite or bit.ly and identifying popular topics, all you have to do is lay it out on the calendar.

Here’s a basic outline of what I plan on posting for my audiences this Fall.  Note that’s it’s not complete, and I did that intentionally.  You can’t give away all your trade secrets, right??

If you haven’t been keeping track of how your audience is engaging with you, I recommend that if you go ahead and create a content calendar that you also create a plan of how you are going to measure whether or not your calendar was effective.  Facebook insights and Hootsuite can tell you a lot of information as to whether or not your followers/fans are paying attention to what you’re posting.

Note that with many things in life, sometimes it’s trial and error.  You may think you’ve got the perfect plan in place, but it’s important to monitor your progress to see if you need to adjust in the future.

Do you have any other tips on how to create a content calendar?

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Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans

As I began composing an application for a Marketing and Branding award based on the Career Center’s social media strategy, I began to get frustrated.  It’s difficult to explain what you do day in day out.  Sitting down and trying to convey into words the communication strategy was more difficult than I imagined and it got me wondering…why?

Sometimes when we focus so much on measurement (clicked links, total student attendance, reach, etc.), it becomes easy to lose sight of the goal.  I knew I had a plan in place.  I would post tweets and Facebook posts on specific career topics timed when students would likely read them. Sounds simple right?? That’s because it is.

The more complicated your plan is the more difficult it may be to measure.  More complicated does NOT equal more successful. Set a goal before you begin and post it in a place where you can’t overlook it.  This way you remain focused and ever reminded that all you do should contribute to the goal set before you.

My goal for the week: post on Facebook & Twitter about networking & the job search.  Why? Because this is the time of the year we get a lot of questions about those topics. Simple, right?

Timing is Everything Especially in Social Media

The title says it all.  A common worry I hear expressed by people looking to use social media professionally is that they don’t have enough time in the day to manage it.  I agree that it’s tough, but as I explained in my previous post about Hootsuite, you can easily schedule future posts and monitor your presence on multiple sites through one source.

One thing that I did not touch on in my last blog was WHEN to post.  Think about when your audience would be likely to see your Tweets, Facebook posts or LinkedIn updates.  Even though you may have time to tweet at 8am in the morning, ask yourself if your audience is going to be up at 8am diligently looking for your post.  They just might be…or they might not.

This is partially why I use bit.ly in conjunction with Hootsuite.  It’s easy for me to quickly scan down my shortened link list to see if my audience is clicking on my links.  I also monitor Facebook Insights to see how far my post was able to reach.

The only way to figure out if your timing is good or bad is to monitor your clicked links (can be done through bit.ly or Hootsuite) or to check your Facebook insights.  Don’t be afraid to experiment with the timing of your posts.  One of my most viewed links came from the day after Christmas!  Check your statistics often and you may begin to see some trends of when your audience engages with your social media sites.

Hootsuite Analytics

As promised, I’m going to go through why Hootsuite analytics have been so useful in helping me to measure the effectiveness of the UGA Career Center Twitter Account.

Let’s go through the quick steps of how you can get the exact report that’s show above:

  1. Select the 3rd icon from the top in the left vertical tool bar that looks like 3 bars.
  2. Click on “Quick Analytics” then “Ow.ly Summary Stats.”
  3. This automatically creates the graphs that you see in the center of the above screen.

If you scroll down the page, you can see it starts to identify the top posts with most clicks.  You may be surprised to find (as I was), that the content students click on the most may not be the career articles you are posting.  A little variety and sharing of useful information outside of career may increase the engagement with your audience.

It isn’t immediately apparent on the surface all of the implications these statistics have. You can even become a paying member to get more in depth statistics, but a lot of information can be told from this alone—

  1. Students ARE paying attention to the tweets  that are streamed on the homepage of www.career.uga.edu as evidenced by the “Top Referrers” graph.
  2. I can also infer trends of popular topics from the “Most Popular Links” section.  These statistics are only for the month of December, and what is being clicked on seems to be anything other than specific to the job search.  Perhaps students are checked out at this point or focused on their exams.  Perhaps this could be a new addition that I could add to my tweet strategy—adding “nice to know” information rather than only career information.
  3. The line graph at the top gives you a hint as to which days your audience may be most engaged with your content.  Large amounts of clicks could imply that you are posting a popular topic, but part of the popularity may also be that you aren’t tweeting that at 8 in the morning.

All in all, it’s important to try a few different strategies to see what works. You may also want to revisit older ideas that were deemed “failures” to see if perhaps the timing was off or you may need to identify new ways to appeal to your audience.

That’s it for now, but Happy Holidays Everyone!!

The Value of Social Bookmarking in Higher Education

Have you ever had to update the website for your department or business and everyone heaved a collective groan?  I went through the same thing this past summer as my department tried to update our website from mostly Flash into a snazzy website that used HTML 5, expression engine and several other technical pieces of software that I’m clueless about.

That’s not what I wanted to talk about today though.  Through this experience it made me realize how difficult it is to keep everything up to date on a website.  However, it did inspire me to open my eyes to something new: social bookmarking.  Think of all of the websites you bookmark and folders you create to organize your bookmarks in your internet browser.  Now go to delicious.com.  Delicious stores  your bookmarked sites online and solves the frustration you may have felt in the past because the site you’re looking for was bookmarked on another computer.

Currently, I will use this to “fill in the gaps” that I currently notice in the content that I provide to my college students on my departmental website.  I have created folders (which delicious calls “stacks”) around topics that there currently isn’t a place for on my website. This will also prevent plagiarism if you weren’t sure how to add content to your site beyond restating what someone else already stated on their website.

The beauty of this is that I don’t have to change my website in any way, nor do I need to pester our technical team trying to add in information that doesn’t fit in the overall design of the site.  It is easy to use and requires little skill to operate. Since I’m just linking to other sites, I also don’t have to worry about updating information other than checking back to their site to make sure they are keeping their content up-to-date.

So to all of those people that relate to the collective groans heard across the world when “new website” is said, here is a solution for you.