Create tactics to overcome the puzzle of social media. Photo courtesy of Daddy Design WordPress.

In a three-part series, I’ve derived a school-centric publishing schedule from Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman’s book, Content Rules. The book discusses exciting ways for your school to create the best online content and reveal your school’s enticing story. To hear it directly from Chapman and Handley, be sure to join edSocialMedia on May 3 at Babson College.

As you learned in posts one and two, Handley and Chapman suggest to segment an editorial calendar into periods that roll with your yearly schedule, ideally creating a plan that follows 1-7-30-4-2-1. My first post discussed ideas to apply on a daily (1) or weekly (7) schedule, while the second article explored strategies centralized around a monthly (30) approach. Here, I’ve highlighted concepts that apply to your school’s quarterly (4), semi-annual (2) and annual (1) publishing plan.

4 = Quarterly

  • Publish a researched-based white paper: How does your school stack up against its competitors? Does it offer an encouraging amount of financial aid? Do your teachers maintain a high percentage of master’s and specialized degrees? People relish in hard numbers, especially when it reaffirms a challenging choice.
  • Create a case-study collection and distribute it in PDF format: Compile parent testimonials and recreate the content to tell a story. Gather additional viewpoints from staff and students to develop a complete picture, and use a cohesive theme to tie it all together. A testimonial collection can share different perspectives of the school, allowing constituents to relate on multiple levels.
  • Create an ebook: Has your school been raising money for an endowment campaign and gracious donations have been made? Honor your admirable donors with an article in a small, electronic report in the form of a book. Openly distribute the document on your social media channels as well internally, which will keep you constituents informed and crate buzz within the community. Just be sure the donors don’t wish to remain anonymous.
  • Important: Create the collections, white papers and ebooks as PDFs: Despite how you intend to share the document, create a PDF-format to allow easily downloading and redistribution. Embed sharing buttons within the document, which will serve as a friendly reminder to pass it along.
  • Produce a video series: Showcase different parts of the campus and community life through webisodes. Take the time to create a uniform plan of attack, and use elements of consistency (i.e. open with the same music, use the same text, integrate the same transitions, etc.) to make the videos looks like a package.
  • Organize and promote a cocktail or coffee hour meet-up, or a similar gathering offline: This idea screams as an opportunity to engage your Board of Trustees, donors, parents and alumni, and many schools are already doing this. However, have you considered these opportunities as venues to generate other story ideas or as avenues where you can share? Think of these gatherings as focus groups. Ask the community what they want to hear more about. Maybe what you’re creating isn’t the story that should be told, and meet-ups will provide a venue for your community’s thoughts to be considered. Note: This content idea was originally suggested in Content Rules’s monthly category, but I think it fits schools better on a quarterly basis.

2 = Semi-annual or 1 = Annual

  • Produce a live event: Have you connected with Livestream or UStream? Be sure to read a previous edSocialMedia article, Live Streaming 101, and then get started on an event such as a Lacrosse game or concert. Enlist the help of a host who can emcee the event like a live broadcaster, which will add an exciting twist. Just be sure to choose a host who can be animated and knows the event’s lingo.
  • Produce an annual book: Update and electronically reproduce your viewbook every year. Some design or marketing firms will allow you to buy the design files and make changes after the final product has been paid for. Every year, update statistics, photos and text to ensure your book represents an accurate representation of your school. Again, publish the book as a downloadable PDF and you won’t need to endure the expensive cost to constantly reprint the hard copy.
  • Update your web presence with a new story feature, tool set, or functionality: How about a mash-up page? Have you seen some of the great, integrative features that companies are creating for schools to centralize all their media content? Make a school-centric mash-up site that incorporates all of your school’s channels in one place. The more tentacles your media schedule has, the harder it is to keep it all visible, which makes mash-up pages incredibly handy.

Although there are several applicable story ideas suggested throughout the book, you shouldn’t feel obligated to create all the content yourself. Handley and Chapman reiterate that the creation of content doesn’t need to (and shouldn’t) come solely from one department, especially not just the marketing or communications departments. The more perspectives your media channels include, the more authentic your content will be. Search engines will crawl each of these content mediums separately and increase your online presence. All departments within a school can greatly benefit from strategic use of social media, and now you have a plan of attack.

Have you read Content Rules or have other great story ideas? In the comment section, share the best key concepts to take away from the book Content Rules.

Madeline Riley

Madeline Riley was the Director of Publications at Stratton Mountain School, a ski and snowboard academy in southern Vermont. When she's not using social media, she's often doing something active, whether it be yoga, biking, and/or running.