All you need to know to get you started with your content planning!
What was meant to be a bit of a blog break has turned into a big blog break!… Now try say that really quickly 10 times.
A lot has happened over the last few weeks including consuming lots of chocolate and finally getting some vitamin D. We have also been doing lots of work including developing our new offering – BOSS (Back Office Support Services). In partnership with Basingstoke Voluntary Action and Peas in a Pod, we are providing financial and HR admin support to local voluntary, community and social enterprise groups. We want to be able to present this service and demonstrate our expertise in the most effective way possible. We are looking at digital tools to aid this and how we can best communicate with our target audience.
At the end of my last blog – “Two steps forward, one step back” I touched upon content planning and shared an easy-peasy 5 step comms strategy that you can replicate. Did you miss this one?… you can go back and read it here, even if its just to see the photo of a snail sitting on a frog (what a shot!).
I wanted to talk a bit more about content – why it’s important, where you can find it and how you can get you, and your team, organised with some planning tips. I will also sprinkle in some digital tools and resources that you might find useful.
Why is it important to have a content plan?
My brain started firing answers at this question so I thought it would be best to share all the reasons in a diagram. Here are the contents of my brain… (not the entirety, just the answers to this question I will add 😊)
Where can you find content?
The content wheel
Our digital partner We Are Open Coop shared a similar wheel diagram to below, illustrating the different types of content you can create. A great reminder I thought! Some of these will be more suitable than others for you and some may take more time to prepare than others. I would recommend using a variety, but focusing on a couple that you know your audience will engage with. Not sure what your users like? Ask them! – either an informal phone call, as part of a survey or you could put out a poll on social media.
Consider what is important to your organisation
A great starting point for when you’re stuck for ideas for content is by looking at content on your website. Think about what is most important to you and then look at different ways of presenting this (that’s where the colourful wheel above comes in). For example, Action Hampshire has been embracing digital working and wants to support its members to do the same. We have presented this in the form of posts on our social media, on our website and in a section in our weekly newsletter. We have also held a digital conference via Zoom, published blogs and offered 1-1 mentoring of digital programmes.
Some of the content on our website doesn’t change, but this can be reshaped and used on our other comms channels on a regular basis. This is referred to as ‘Evergreen content’ i.e. information about your organisation that is “continually relevant and stays ‘fresh’ for readers over a long period of time”. This could include information such as your opening hours to take calls, the core values of your organisation or the free initial consultation you offer. The information stays the same, but you change up the language or the graphics you use to keep your users engaged. What is great about this content is you can spend a bit of time taking a few bits of core information, transforming them into several different post and have them saved ready to use when you’re short of time or struggling for content ideas.
Creating a list of awareness days that align with your values, can be an easy source of content. There are loads of websites listing what and when the awareness days are. You can save these in your calendar or content plan so you know when to prepare for them. Quality over quantity is the moto here!
- Twitter Lists – These allow you to customise, organise and prioritise the Tweets you see in your timeline. You can create Lists of other accounts by group, topic or interest. This helps you to narrow down your search for content specific to your work and what your users will engage with.
- Linkedin content suggestions – The content suggestions feature allows LinkedIn page admins to discover and share content that their member community is engaging with. This content can be filtered down to relate to industry, location or job function. You will gain more engagement by sharing these articles with a comment or a reflection. This demonstrates the values and causes that you care about to your users.
- Google alerts – this is a great tool for keeping up to date with the latest news. Using a Google account, you can receive emails with new web results that relate to key words or phrases that you can follow at a frequency of your choosing.
- User and competitor content – resharing content from your users is a quick way to produce content and a great way to show your support for the work they do. You can also look at what your competitors are posting about. Are they sharing content that you have a view on and can put your own spin on it? This is an effective way to make sure you are staying relevant.
Getting organised with your content
There are many ways of creating a system for planning and scheduling your content. You may need to test out a few different methods until you find what is most effective for you and your team. As a starting point, I’ll share what we do at Action Hampshire – you may want to try this and adapt it to the way you work.
Collect content ideas in one place and get your team involved (they know best about their area!)
We have set up an Action Hampshire ‘Digital Comms’ Basecamp group for just this! All staff have access and are able to upload information, links, events, awareness days and other media to the group to be published on our social media platforms, website and in our newsletter. Staff are able to draft posts ready for publishing and can assign a particular date for posting and notify the Comms team for it to be approved and scheduled.
Why it works – this has helped me as the Comms person, keep track of all the information that needs to be published. Staff are able to see what others are working on. It also gives an overview of all the posts coming up and check that they are evenly spread throughout the week.
An alternative to this is a spreadsheet that all staff are able to input into. It consists of listing out dates for the year and then entering awareness days, your events, any other key dates that you know for the year. You can add what type of content you are going to create. You could also put in when you’re going to post Evergreen content and what calls to action you want to focus on each week e.g. do you want people to sign up to an event or subscribe to your newsletter. You may also want to include which platforms you’ll be posting the content on and who is responsible for creating it. Not quite picturing it?… Fortunately for you I have created a very basic draft template to get you started, which you can download here and adapt to your liking.
By planning out your content this way you can see where there are gaps and you can allow time to prepare for key dates and campaigns, you can react to urgent announcements…. I could go on, but probably best to refer you back to the notice board diagram above!
We use the inbuilt Facebook and Twitter schedulers ahead of events and busy periods to create and organise posts in advance. We have also used an online scheduler called Buffer in the past. I would recommend it for its user friendliness and it offers a free version which provides enough function for small organisations.
Why it works – scheduling ahead of an event takes the pressure off on the day and allows for more reactive posting and urgent announcements.
One last thing, and it’s actually a biggy, but I won’t go into too much detail as I have rambled on enough! When you’re planning your content, you need to consider how you are going to measure its impact. Question why you are posting it and what does success look like. Some examples of the performance measures can be seen in my previous blog here – in the 5-step Comms Strategy table.
I also found the below article really useful for specifically creating our social media strategy and deciding how best to measure what was working well and what wasn’t.
19 Social Media Metrics That Really Matter—And How to Track Them