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The rapidly evolving fields of Content and Social Media converge in a very busy intersection of marketing objectives, strategy, tactics and tools. Even for those of us who work in this area every day, this intersection is noisy, confusing and frustrating, as we try to effectively manage all of these complex elements, while keeping up with the latest tools and practice.

So for anybody and everybody who has this problem, here is a simple, how-to approach to help create and implement an effective content sharing plan.

This approach looks something like this:

Social sharing of content

Firstly, Understand your Content Marketing Goals

Content marketing has two primary goals:

  1. To draw visitors to your website to access your great content and to ultimately become your customers (including students, donors, alumni, or any other community segments)
  2. To attract quality inbound links to your website, to produce increased search engine rankings  which will draw more organic search visitors

It can be very easy to lose track of these goals, especially for energetic social media types who get so into the content, or the communications, that they forget why they are doing it. If you can keep a clear focus on these goals, it is much easier to sort out the decisions that you need to take to create and maintain an effective content sharing plan.

Adopt the Rule of Thirds

Next step is to start thinking about managing content marketing and social media using the Rule of Thirds . This “Rule” suggests that you should:

Rule of thirds

  1. Spend 1/3 of your time generating and posting your own content, including blogging, tweets, videos, slide decks, infographics, etc.
  2. Spend 1/3 of your time curating content from external sources
  3. Spend 1/3 of your time engaging in conversations and asking questions

This “rule” optimizes the effectiveness of your investment in developing your content and then sharing it. It is very important to spend some time getting your head firmly around this concept of a balanced approach because without it, any one of these thirds can become a black hole for your limited time and scarce resources, without reaping any of the cumulative benefits.

Ok, so we are now clear on the objectives and we know how to divide up our time across content and social media, so where do we begin?

Make your Blog the Anchor of Your Content Marketing 

To optimize your content marketing you need to publish new, high quality content on your blog at least once a week, ideally 2-3 times a week. Your blogging activity should become the focal point of new content production and distribution. At the same time, it is the hub of your content marketing, serving two purposes. Firstly it communicates the important news, information, images, commentary and opinions that your audience is interested in. Secondly, it is the repository of fresh, new content that the search engines need to see on your site to maintain and/or increase your SEO rankings for your targeted keywords and for the long-tail keywords driven by the nuances of your deep content. Create timely, high quality, content that is relevant to your audience. Don’t try to write for search engine robots, simply write well for your students, alumni, parents, and faculty and the SEO rankings will take care of themselves. Brainstorm with your team, set up an editorial calendar, or chain yourself to your desk until you finish that long overdue post; do whatever you have to do, to publish 2-3 times a week on your blog.

Amplify your Blog Posts on Your Priority Social Media Networks

Next step is to distribute your blog content across your priority social media channels. Let’s be more specific. This means to:

  1. Send out a tweet comprised of your blog title, a shortened link to the blog post itself and two hashtags. (Send it out a few times over a week or so to give it good exposure to your followers)
  2. Post a note to Facebook including the blog title, an image, the first paragraph, hashtags and a link back to the full posting on your blog.
  3. Post a Discussion to LinkedIn in a similar way but with a slightly different emphasis, with a slightly different intro and link back to the blog.
  4. Post video content from the blog or video summaries of the blog to your YouTube channel, optimize it and link back to the original blog post.

These activities form the minimum baseline of social media activity we suggest to our higher ed clients.

Social Media baseline activities

Each channel should take on a slightly different emphasis, depending on your communications priorities, with the noted sharing frequencies should be seen as a minimum. Some might look at this and say, impossible, we don’t have the resources to do all of that. But take a step back, and think about it. If you created 3 good blog posts a week and then amplify them across these channels you are probably 3/4 of the way to meeting these minimums without even doing anything else.

Add in curation and subsequent interaction around the blog content on your prioirty social networks and you can easily meet these goals.

Curate Quality, Related Content from Outside Sources

The second Rule of the Rule of Thirds suggests that you should spend 1/3 of your time curating content from other sources. Curation is defined as the process of collecting, organizing and displaying information relevant to a particular topic or area of interest. There is lots of great content out there on the web that your audience will be very interested in that compliments your original content and focus, and that will further enhance your relevance and reputation with them, as an authority in your particular niche. Twitter is a great primary tool with which to curate outside content. More specialized or advanced tools such as Pinterist, Storify and Scoopit provide further options to organize and distribute curated content. There are a broad range of curation tools out there to chose from. Find a couple that work well for you and start curating the best content you can find about priority subjects of interest to your students.

To recap, so far in our content sharing plan we have created original content on our blog, we have curated outside content, and we’ve distributed it all out across our primary social media channels. Unfortunately, most marketing organizations stop there in terms of the content sharing efforts but there is much more that you can do to further leverage your content and very positively effect your SEO rankings.

We will cover our next two categories, content syndication and social media bookmarking, and come full circle with the third rule of the Rule of Thirds in our follow-up post next week. Stay tuned.

What curation, syndication and bookmarking tools would your recommend to other higher ed marketers who are just beginning to get into these aspects of social content sharing?