It’s a new year! And what better way to celebrate having a fresh, new start than with a new and improved content calendar for schools? It’s time to update your content strategy and revamp your approach using industry best practices, which can set your school up for success in the months ahead.
Whether your school has already established a content production pipeline or is just starting with the process, there’s value in returning to the fundamentals. That means working on creating and maintaining a well-organized content calendar for your content marketing and social media efforts.
Interested in the latest content calendar best practices for schools? Read on to discover some of our tips and tricks to help your school stand out!
What Is a Content Calendar for Schools and Why is it Important?
At its core, a content calendar is a schedule that your team produces of the content you plan to publish. It includes the various types of content you will publish, such as blog posts, social posts, videos, webinars and podcasts, and outlines when and where this content will be released.
But why are content calendars important in the first place? By centralizing your content initiatives, your school can stay organized and synchronize its efforts across all of its marketing channels. According to HEM Content Manager Jennifer Sacco, this is especially important for schools seeking to promote certain events and themes at specific times.
HEM Social Media Manager, Valentin Wimel, attributes multiple benefits to having a content calendar. In addition to helping schools evaluate their content and avoid repetition, a content calendar can provide a record of everything that’s been published. This can help schools determine which efforts were successful, all while maintaining a balance between the different types of content they need to publish.
Put simply; a content calendar becomes the backbone of your school’s blog or social media strategy. Some benefits include:
- An established content marketing workflow
- A boost in team productivity and efficiency
- Improved KPIs and better quality work
Interested in creating a content calendar for your school? Reach out to our team of content marketing experts to get started and develop your school’s inbound marketing strategy!
1. Conduct a Content Audit to Evaluate Your School’s Current Efforts
One of the most effective ways to get started with creating a content calendar for schools is to take a step back and look at what you’ve been working with. This reflection can help you determine the direction you need to take to move forward successfully. To get to this point, you’ll need to conduct a content audit or review, which allows you to analyze current and past content efforts and evaluate how effective they’ve reached the right prospects, communicating key messages and driving the actions you want.
Example: This excerpt reveals key points covered in a content review, which also factors in the target audience and persona information:
The audit also includes a specific set of elements that focus on communication and messaging:
When exploring how to create a content calendar for educational institutions, this type of audit can be a great starting point. It can help your school identify gaps in your messaging, discover key pain points your personas have that have not been previously addressed or uncover opportunities to better facilitate the enrollment journey with tailored web content. For instance, you may discover that your content is more geared towards prospects at the bottom of the funnel than those at the top, leaving a missed opportunity to build your audience and turn users into leads. Alternatively, you can use your audit as an opportunity to catalog and repurpose existing content for an even greater impact.
Determine Content Types and Channels when Creating a Content Calendar for Schools
While conducting a content audit, you’ll have the chance to review each of the channels and content types you use, as well as individual content pieces and how they performed. This gives you an advantage when creating a content calendar since you can identify what kind of content works best for your team and audience.
When choosing your social media channels, it’s important to remember that different types of schools benefit from different platforms. However, “platforms like Facebook and Instagram are a must as they gather a very large audience,” Valentin explains. This audience can consist of younger students looking to attend university (17-25 years old) and older students seeking career training (25-35 years old). The first step is to “outline one or several personas and then choose the appropriate social media platforms according to the audience we want to reach.”
Use this step as an opportunity to assess which channels garner the most engagement with your target audience. It’s also key to review your analytics and social media insights at this stage to determine which content performed best on each channel.
2. Generate Content Ideas that Reflect Your Student Personas and Programs
Constantly generating content can be exhausting, but there are some tricks to help ease the process. As you get started, you’ll find that working with clear objectives gives you a big advantage. Whether you’re seeking to boost brand awareness, increase web traffic, improve community engagement or drive leads, the goals you outline can guide your content efforts forward.
The next step to generating strong content ideas is having a firm understanding of your target audience, including their needs, motivations, interests, and concerns. According to Jennifer, this is where a school’s student personas come in. Once your team gathers the information that defines its target audience and creates clear student personas, your school will be in a better position to identify topics that will generate the most engagement.
As you brainstorm creative blog topics, aim to create evergreen content that can withstand the test of time. These types of topics will always remain relevant to your audience. Jennifer also recommends building topic clusters, which can have a significant impact on your SEO strategy. Doing so ensures that your content and SEO efforts are well-coordinated, allowing you to optimize your school’s website to meet your audience’s needs as well as search engines’ rising standards.
Valentin recommends a few other techniques to help school marketers start their content strategy. “I would recommend that a school starting from scratch begin to establish its authority and develop its brand image with strong and recognizable branding.” He adds, “One way to do this is by introducing the different instructors, teachers, faculty members and their expertise.” Taking this approach also introduces a fun opportunity to highlight your community and its accomplishments. All of this can help you spark a conversation with your prospects, making it clear that your school understands and supports them while also standing out from the competition.
Pro tip: It’s a good idea to be aware of industry news or exciting developments in the subjects your school teaches. In addition to keeping a designated document for potential ideas, consider embracing promotional content ideas to highlight key events and dates at your school as well as user-generated content.
3. Sort Assets, Resources, and Other Key Information in an Organized Format
Typically, creating a blog or social media post requires multiple components. There’s the text, accompanying images or video, keywords, target personas, references, CTAs, and hashtags to name a few. It’s important to keep all of this information organized for easy access—and a content calendar for schools is a great way to do exactly that. If you’re wondering what to include in a content calendar, then those elements are a great start. The trick is to organize all of this information effectively.
A simple spreadsheet can do the job well. For blog posts for example, consider creating columns for each element of the blog, such as date, title, keywords, and resources. As you increase your content production, you can add blog posts with every new row. The image below shows a template that your school can use to get organized:
In many ways, this document can become the ultimate resource that guides your content marketing team forward and improves collaboration. You can also customize it in the way that works best for you. For instance, you can add extra columns to specify the author or editor, as well as the use of any student testimonials or graphics. You can even add a column to indicate whether the blog post is evergreen or not, making it easier for your team to quickly review your efforts.
Because content production involves a lot of stages and collaboration, you can create a dedicated content calendar that keeps track of all the updates. This makes it easy to delegate tasks among different members of your team, boosting productivity by making each step transparent and accessible for all. Below is an example of how this might look for your school:
Each piece of content (Content ID) is listed along with its corresponding authors, editors and publishers. The status of each Content ID is also included and is color-coded for additional structure and easy viewing.
4. Create and Schedule Your School’s Content Around Important Dates
A good content calendar for schools is one that facilitates content production and publication. In fact, Valentin believes that it “provides a clear view of upcoming events, dates and information that need to be highlighted.” This gives you the chance to showcase key dates and events, such as open days, back to school, info sessions, important cultural or social events, deadlines and more. It can even help you better plan content during the application period. Knowing these dates in advance and integrating them into your school’s content production pipeline is one of many helpful content calendar tips for schools.
Aim to Stick to a Consistent Posting Schedule with Your School’s Content
It’s important to outline when you plan to publish in advance and opt for realistic instead of ambitious goals. To increase your chances of success, you’ll need to stick to a consistent posting schedule. It’s also best to stay within the recommended posting range for each social media channel you’re using. Typically, the breakdown would be:
- Facebook: 1-2 posts daily
- Instagram: 3-7 posts weekly (including stories and reels)
- LinkedIn: 1-5 posts daily
- Twitter: 1-5 tweets daily
Generally, you’ll want to start small and build up your efforts, especially since a realistic posting schedule helps maintain consistency. Besides, going over the recommended posting range can make it easy for some of your content to get lost in the algorithm.
Choosing the right time to post content is another key consideration. “The best times to schedule messages are when people are generally less busy, i.e. early in the morning when people are getting ready or in transit,” adds Valentin. “However, a good way to know when to share is to look at the statistics.” That’s because social media insights can help you figure out what time of the day followers are most engaged with your content. Relying on these analytics and experimenting with different posting times are both great tips for creating a social media content calendar that delivers results.
5. Rely on Publishing and Scheduling Tools When Building Your School’s Content Calendar
Ultimately, you want to focus on what works best for your team and using tools can help. When it comes to blog publishing, you can rely on your content management system (CMS). This allows you to draft and save your content and even schedule it for publishing at a later date. The example below shows a snapshot of the WordPress CMS, revealing publishing options that your school can use to release its web content:
Some online tools, although convenient, can be pricy. To avoid extra costs, be sure to consult your marketing budget and determine your school’s exact needs. A small team of school marketers working on a manageable load of content may not need to rely on paid online tools. However, those dealing with an overwhelming amount of content to produce and publish may have an easier time working with them. This handy list of social media calendar tools curated by HubSpot can be particularly helpful for both groups.
According to Valentin, “It’s ideal to schedule posts directly on the respective platforms. For example, Facebook has its own scheduling platform for Facebook and Instagram. There are other scheduling platforms, such as HubSpot or Hootsuite, that allow you to schedule on most platforms.” Using these tools is a particularly effective way to save time and boost productivity.
6. Optional: Consider How Ads will be Integrated into Your School’s Content Calendar
Many schools run paid ads to boost awareness within their target audience. If your school is one of them, then it’s a good idea to integrate your campaign information into your content calendar. This way, you can easily sort out which content falls under your school’s ad budget and which content your team can organically produce and share. Taking this extra step when developing a social media content calendar for schools ensures that promotional content won’t clash with organic content and that it can be used to support it.
In Valentin’s view, it’s important to distinguish paid ads from organic content, especially since the goals behind each are often different. With paid ads, the intent is to promote events or a particular message and drive actions such as generating leads. However, organic content is driven by the goal of driving traffic, starting a conversation with users and fueling interest through the right information.
“When integrating paid advertising into a digital marketing strategy, it is important to determine the objective of the ad, its duration and, above all, the graphic elements to be used,” he explains. He also advises schools to set aside a budget for boosting their organic content, particularly if their goal is to reach a wider audience—and even more so if their accounts don’t have a strong following. “Depending on the goal of the social media organic strategy, it may be essential to add advertising to it for the goals to be reached,” he adds.
7. Review Your Analytics to Capitalize on Optimization Opportunities
Reviewing your analytics is key in helping you figure out what is and what isn’t working. This gives you the insight you need to optimize your efforts and increase your return on investment. There are many metrics you can keep track of, but knowing which ones to focus on can give your school an advantage.
Checking content marketing metrics for your school’s blog means relying on Google Analytics. Using your Google Analytics account, you can track which web pages and blog posts are performing best. This can be a good time to evaluate page views and average engagement time. Here’s how this information can appear on the platform:
School marketers looking to analyze organic social media metrics and KPIs can review their profile impressions, profile reach, follower growth rate, engagement rate, video plays, clicks, and shares. “These KPI’s should be evaluated at least from year to year and allow for adjustments to be made if necessary,” says Valentin.
Embracing these tips when starting a content calendar for schools can better position your team for success. As you experiment with different types of content, tools, and posting times, you’ll be able to craft a content calendar that pushes your content efforts forward.