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Corporate communications + Public Relations Adelaide

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March 2011

Content calendars are king

There have been a few articles recently about whether you need a content plan for social media (SXSW Gary Vaynerchuk Keynote and In Defense of Content Calendars).

I say: “It depends on your objectives”.

Why are you using social media?

If you’re using social media on behalf of an organisation as a professional communications platform, then yes,  you need a content calendar.

Content calendars help you 'be king'
Content calendars help you 'be king'

If you’re a happy-go-lucky individual using social media for yourself only, then hell no, you don’t need a calendar.

What do I mean by content calendar?

A content calendar could be any document / table / spreadsheet that outlines upcoming topics you could talk about on social media.

It doesn’t need to be meticulously detailed; but is an extremely useful piece of insurance. A content calendar can:

  • Ensure you’re ready to post comments about key milestones for your company.
  • Provide you with content ideas on those occasions when you “can’t think of anything to say”.
  • Keep you focused on your objectives.
  • Help you maintain a professional presence.

And just because you’ve got a content calendar, that doesn’t mean you can’t be spontaneous. Within social media platforms, you still need to be prepared to:

  • Join impromptu conversations.
  • Answer questions.
  • Join relevant new memes, themes or conversations that are taking off online.
  • And of course .. be creative and post ‘genius’ content that you thought of today

So in a nutshell: a content calendar isn’t a rigid plan that you MUST follow. It’s a guide to help you from time to time.

Your content calendar might include company events, community events, public holidays, competitions, launches and campaigns. A calendar puts you on the front foot and is a worthwhile investment before you embark on your social media posting. I know they’re extremely useful because I used to content manage many websites and different social media platforms – at once.

What’s your favourite way of maintaining content ideas? Do you have a calendar or simple list?

Social media: getting on with it

This week I’m blogging about Frocomm’s New Media Summit, a digital conference for PR professionals that I attended in Sydney.

The thing that struck me was that leaders in the Australian communication field have finally stopped asking “What is social media? Why the heck do people like it so much?” or “Isn’t Twitter so inane?” Now, they’re getting on with it.

And although they may be a little nervous, they’re also excited.

Some key takeouts from the speakers were that they:

  • Are pushing through internal resistance and embarking on social media programs because they recognise the need for action and learning
  • Are recognising that if they need to reach some audiences with their message, they’ll only reach them via social media
  • Are moving to embed social media within wider marketing/communications programs, rather than seeing it as a standalone feature
  • Recognise that social media isn’t always about ‘branding’ or ‘marketing’. Often it’s a powerful supplement to customer service for example (and happy customers are good for branding in the end, right? Try selling something to people who are bitching about your widgets online every day).

I was also grateful that the presenters were not afraid to share their failures. There were occasions when their social media efforts fell flat. They learned from this, picked themselves up, and did a better job next time.

Michelle Prak & Ross Monaghan, #fro2011
Michelle Prak & Ross Monaghan, #fro2011

Here’s a few organisations that shared their experiences:

VicRoads There’s a few social media profiles for VicRoads, as you’ll see from its home page. It’s so important for a government organisation like this to reach out to the public: to keep it up to date with legislative changes, and address frequently answered questions online. It can help alleviate the workload on its customer service team.

As VicRoads’s Dionne Lew put it, it was time to move from brochures advising young people how to get their licence, to YouTube videos explaining the concepts simply. VicRoads couldn’t afford big TV campaigns, so its highly popular YouTube channel was the answer.

And they’ve seen some nice side benefits – the VicRoads online community is ‘self helping’ – finding answers from other responses already posted to the platforms.

NSW Police (part of a panel during the day). Around Australia, the police seems to be getting it right on Facebook.

They may not have been the first to the Facebook party, but they’ve clearly gained good advice and set out with the best intentions.

For NSW, the result is a Facebook presence that is more positive than they expected. The force expected some vilification on its page, but instead the experience has been overwhelmingly beneficial.

Look at Facebook pages for NSW Police , SA Police and Qld Police. They’re fantastic channels that are doing great things for community engagement, the police brand – and not to forget – crime stopping. I know that when I visit the SA Police page, I’m always astounded (and impressed) by the number of incidents they deal with, and the speed with which things are resolved. I don’t picture them sitting behind speed cameras anymore. It’s simply great PR for them.

Weight Watchers For an organisation that depends heavily on regular communication and support of members, social media is a no-brainer for Weight Watchers. Spokesperson Reichel Cheslett said their  successful clients naturally become strong advocates online. And Weight Watchers’s social media activity is producing sales leads, brand presence, retention opportunities and lots of other benefits for the bottom line.

ROI

The Frocomm conference points to the key question – “What are the risks of not participating in social media?” To understand this, simply turn upside down some of the benefits shared during the conference. Risks of not using social media:

  • Less opportunity to respond to customer complaints
  • More customer frustration; more unanswered venting online
  • Less opportunity to ask the public for help
  • Less opportunity to let the public know what you can do for them
  • Risk of young people (and other key audiences) not receiving your messages
  • Not being able to match your competitors because you don’t have the big advertising spend available

A big thanks to Ross Monaghan for kindly giving me a guest ticket to the event. And bravo to Glenn Frost and his team for pulling off a rewarding conference experience.

Please visit the PR Report website for the presentations available online and see the #fro2011 tag on Twitter.

Video: social media & marketing

A lot my blog readers are also friends, so apologies if you have seen this already …

Today I’m sharing a video interview from Indaily, an Adelaide newspaper, who asked me about social media and its impact on marketing. See the video below.

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