Data-Driven Social Media Strategy (Part 3): Content & Messaging

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For those of you just tuning in, I am in the process of formalizing my university’s social media strategy following a five-step process: goal-setting; choosing social media channels; content and messaging; evaluation; and adaptation. I’ve explained that we’re going to grow and nurture our connection with online communities, and by which channels.

Now the hard(er) part. How do we accomplish these things we’ve set out to do? What do we say? Where do we say it? All this and more! The thoughts below are very specific to my university (and originally appeared on the University Relations blog), but the overall thought process can be applied to your own organization’s social media goals.

Content & Messaging

Content. What should we share? For my university, a good starting point was to consider our audience. If we were just venturing into social media, we would have identified a target audience when we set our goals. In our case, though, we were able to look at our existing audience and learn a few things. For each channel (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) we could answer the following questions.

  • Who is our audience?
  • What subjects/information/content will likely be of most interest to them? (Here, we can examine past precedent and instead ask, “What subjects/information/content is best received?”)
  • What is our audience expecting of us?
  • How can we best serve and be a part of our communities?
  • What content and messaging will help us accomplish our goals?

By and large, the audience that engages with the university most through social channels is current students, followed by prospective students. From each of these groups, we get comments and questions about deadlines, admission, events, campus way-finding, etc. We’ve determined that people like to know what’s happening on campus, they want to be able to provide feedback to the university, and they like to see themselves and their peers featured in photos and videos.

With these observations in mind, and using our goals (to grow our communities and increase participation) as guides, we can can begin to determine what sort of content is best suited for sharing with our communities. We know that the communication is going to be fluid. We can’t predict what conversation we’ll be having tomorrow, next week, or later this year. But as we decide what conversations to start and what messages to share, we can be mindful of what is of the most interest to our audience(s).

And something we can’t forget: Where will we find or gather the content we need? In University Relations, the staff meets at 9am each morning to share ideas for content. We talk about what’s happening and what we might want to discuss, where content might be best shared, what content we need to collect, and what content we need to prepare for. Down the road, we plan to create a content calendar to help us be mindful of annual noteworthy content.

Notes

The next step in our strategy process is to evaluate our methods. Luckily, even though we’re just now formalizing our strategy, we’ve been operating in this way for some time. Instead of implementing our strategic decisions for some amount of time and then checking our progress, we can jump right into measurement. And that’s what we’ll do next. Are we on the right track? We’ll soon find out!

Related posts:

Data-Driven Social Media Strategy (Part 2): Choosing Channels
Data-Driven Social Media Strategy (Part 1):  Goal-Setting
A Social Media Strategy in Five Steps 

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