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Planning Your Content

Any social media channel -- a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a YouTube channel -- is a content beast that must be fed. And being social can be hard work. It's like being the host of a party. Like a good host, we want our guests to have a good time talking to each other. We don't want to dominate the conversation, but we can't be completely absent either. You wouldn't throw a party and then leave your house, telling your guests, "OK, have fun. Don't break anything."

Content = Cocktails and Nibbles

A good host gets the party started and keeps it moving. We provide the atmosphere and the cocktails and nibbles. And that's what your content is: the cocktails and nibbles. The stuff you provide that your guests can't get anywhere else.

When planning your content for a social media channel think: What do we provide that people cannot get anywhere else? Do we host guest speakers or other events? Do we provide an important student service? How do we turn that information into something that makes sense to share on a particular social channel and will help us meet our goals?

Shareability

That last question -- How do we turn that information into something that makes sense to share? -- is a big one. What kind of content do we provide that people would want to be social around?

For example, you may post to a Facebook page that an important deadline is approaching. That might be an important piece of information, but it's not exactly social. Better to say something like, "The deadline for applications to the XYZ summer internship is this Friday. All forms should be submitted to the office by 3pm. Does anyone need any help or have any questions at all?" And then be prepared to answer those questions on the Facebook page -- don't direct them to an email address or phone number. Keeping the experience in Facebook keeps it social and shareable among the community members. They will all benefit from any questions or answers posted.

What to Post?

Consider what may be of interest to your community. Think from the user's perspective: "If I'm following this account, would I find this item of interest?" Also, keep track of items you post and how users react; if there are stories or questions you post on your Facebook page or Twitter account that garner a lot of positive reactions, you know you have a good topic.

For instance, on our institutional Facebook page, news and congratualtions about student achievements garner a lot of positive response. So do mentions of University faculty doing extraordinary things. Photos and videos are always popular. And anything about the weather and new construction on campus seems to go over particularly well. Think about creating content "departments." People in your community may come to expect and look forward to a piece of content on a particular day.

How Often?

No consensus exists, although one posting a month is far too little and posting 10 items an hour are far too much. Different social channels have different tolerance levels. For example, it may be fine to post five to 10 items a day to a Twitter account, but on a Facebook page that is probably overkill. However, if you do not post to a Facebook page at least daily you run the risk of falling off the "News Feed" of a user's most popular pages.

Rule of thumb: Post whenever you have something awesome to share, but expect that you will need something awesome to share at least daily on Facebook and Twitter and at least weekly on YouTube or Flickr.