Feb 13 '17
For schools and colleges, creating content and running a blog may seem like a big under-taking, but it’s a simple and cost-effective marketing tool – especially since more and more students and parents are making education choices based on web searches and social media alone.
Writing some good blog posts and a few tweets are one thing, but having a strong, comprehensive plan for your content is crucial to see actual results in this area of marketing. We’re talking about a content plan – and it doesn’t have to be as complicated and labour-intensive as it sounds.
Quite simply, a content plan sets out each week and each month the type of content you want to deliver, themes for the time of year, what needs to be written, and how and where it is going to be shared. Some people call it an editorial calendar – call it what you will, it keeps you on track all year long with your content marketing.
You’d plan out a lesson wouldn’t you, and you’d plan your financials for the year? So, why would your content marketing be any different?
So where do you start?
Strategy and goals
We don’t want to turn all ‘marketing guru’ on you now, but you might want to consider a brain-storming session with your marketing team (or if that’s just you, some senior members of your management team) What are your key priorities for the year, what resources do you have, what’s happening at certain times of the year? That could be open days, admissions time, A Level results day etc, they all offer great opportunity for content and to provide information and share stories from your college. This information may already form your overall marketing strategy, but this needs to be directly linked to creating content.
You can then consider your different audiences – current students, prospective students, parents, the community, and so on – and how you will engage with them? What platforms will you use and where can you engage with these people? Do you have a news page on your website, a blog, an email newsletter? Will you share on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and so on….
This will form your overall strategy, which should be linked to your goals (which could be, for example, to increase student applications by 10%, or to increase conversion from applicant to an enrolled student, or even to increase engagement with the community, if that’s your priority)
Get a plan together
Next get yourself a template editorial calendar – you make your own on an Excel spreadsheet, or on Google calendars, or you can get some good free and paid for editorial calendars online. The Content Marketing Institute has some good free resources.
It might look something like this, but it can be tailored to your needs, some large colleges and universities will be creating and posting content nearly every day, but for schools and sixth-forms, this isn’t necessarily achievable, and a weekly article is plenty.
The plan should chart work month-by-month, you could have a key theme for the month. Let’s say it’s ‘applications open for the next academic year’; You’ll then come up with, say, four blog articles that are loosely based on the topic (perhaps it might be – 10 questions every student asks when applying to our sixth-form; or What our students say are the best thing about studying at Elephant Creative College)
Then you’ll need to nominate who will write the content, a deadline for writing it, date it’s to be published on the website and how and where it will be shared. It might be that it’s not just going online, but also into an email newsletter, or you’re going to set a Facebook advert for it.
Gather some content writers
We’ll be dealing with the topic of getting more people involved in creating your content in a blog post later this week, so stay tuned. But as a quick spoiler, it doesn’t just have to be the marketing team that creates the content, it can be students, teachers, staff, anyone with something interesting to say. Creating four articles a month may, for some, seem like a lot to do, especially if you have a small marketing team. But if you can spread the content writing around, you’ll make life much easier. Not to mention it’s more interesting for the reader. Many principals have their own blogs, or contribute to the overall news pages.
Not just written content
Not to completely spoil our next blog entirely, but don’t forget content is not just the written word, you can share content via photos and video. As a school, college or university, you have the added advantage of having super tech-savvy students everywhere! If they don’t know how to put together a brilliant short video, no one will.
Later this week, we’ll be talking about ‘Getting Your Whole College Involved in Content Writing’ with even more tips and some great examples of what other colleges are doing around the UK.
If you’re struggling with getting content marketing done at your school, college or sixth-form, we’ve got a special fixed-fee Content and PR Package tailored to these needs that you may be interested in. Take a look at the brochure and prices here.