Content planning


Making and posting good content that reflects the values of your brand is central to successful use of social media. What is content? Content is an umbrella term that means everything you post: text updates, photos, videos, infographics, and the conversations you have with users. These things are all content.

Your content should always be relevant to what you do, and what your audience want from you, but don’t be scared to have conversations with your audience. Conversations build trust, and they can lead to outcomes.

Content planning

Although social media is of the moment, planning is important for sustained communication activities. Especially if you’re setting yourself some goals.

What kind of thing will you post in order to generate engagement? Are you trying to inspire people to do something, like click a link and fill in a webform to sign up to your event? The content you post needs to support the goals you set yourself.

It may be worth examining the things you want to promote and engage people in, and looking for themes – these may even be strategic themes, like ’employability’ or ‘student experience’.

You could also think about your values. They may be things like ‘supportiveness’ or ‘knowledge-sharing’. Write them down as part of the planning process.

In order to plan your content, you’ll need to use some sort of calendar – preferably a shared one that the whole team can access. This will become your workflow that enables you to track what you do with social media.

There are a number of ways of doing it:

  • Asana – collaborative project-management tool that lends itself well to content planning. Free to try.
  • Hootsuite – social content publishing platform with off-the-peg content creation. Has a workflow, and a task management system for customer service enquiry tracking. Has a free entry point, along with some paid plans.
  • Outlook – you could create a shared calendar in Outlook, and use each entry to detail the activity. It’s not the most dynamic interface but, if you’re on a budget, it’s one option.
  • Sharepoint – like, Outlook, you can also create a shared calendar on Sharepoint. And, like Outlook, it’s not particularly dynamic.
  • Trello – this collaborative list-building tool can be really effective in planning and managing social media content. You can set your board up as a workflow, add members to tasks, track progress and switch to calendar view. And it’s free.

The kind of things you might include in each content planner entry include:

  • Schedule: when will it be posted? How long will it run for?
  • Assets: what visuals do you have? Do you have some agreed copy? Is there a URL?
  • Team members: who’s responsible for this piece of content? Who will be monitoring responses, and replying to questions about it?
  • Checklist: is this a simple task, or are there a number of things to do in preparation? Publishing a video, for example, involves a number of steps.
  • Budget: if you’re running a paid-for advert, you’ll want to include this.

If you’re posting as yourself, rather than as a University service, content planning can still be useful, especially if you’re blogging. Have a look at the section on thought leadership for more advice.

Here are three tips:

  1. What’s in it for them? Why are your audience interested? What do they get out of it? What’s the call-to-action?
  2. Put people at the heart of it. If it’s about a new service, who will benefit? Who are the people providing the service? What’s changed as a result? If you’re blogging about current events, who’s being affected?
  3. Show don’t tell. Put the people involved in the frame: show your audience what you’re talking about, and put it in context. By making your content about ‘people’ and ‘place’ you’ll be able to illustrate the values and themes in your content plan.

Further reading: Communications Planning Pack [Comms2Point0], The Cube Method© for Digital Media Planning [twobees]

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