Imagine your favorite pair of shoes. They are comfortable and maybe even give you an extra boost of confidence when you wear them. Now imagine those same shoes on the wrong feet. Suddenly instead of being comfortable, your shoes are cramped and painful. Every step becomes a battle to stay upright. You wouldn’t go more than a few steps like that before you stopped to solve the problem.
Now imagine that instead of shoes we are talking about all of the various platforms that are available to display your content on the web. Great content on the right platform will make a splash and get a boost through sharing and commenting. Great content on the wrong platform will be just as uncomfortable and ill suited as putting shoes on the wrong feet. It will struggle to find an audience and eventually it will get lost among all of the other uncomfortable content at the bottom of the search engine results pages.
How do you make sure that your content will fit comfortably?
Figure out what kind of content you have.
Is it a syllabus for a class or a list of speakers for the semester? Your audience will reference static content like this often. You want it to be in the same place all the time, so it is easy to find. A website is the perfect platform for this because your audience can bookmark the page and return over and over again.
Is your content an announcement to drum up excitement about an upcoming event? You’ll want your audience to be able to see cohesive reminders about the event in various places. If you just want to tell people the ‘who, when, where’, that is best suited to a short Facebook post or Tweet. If you have something more in-depth — a review or interview perhaps – write a full blog post.
Find your audience and determine which platforms work best for you.
To start, finding your audience is not as simple as deciding between prospective students, current students, alumni or the ever popular, everyone! Sorry to break it to you but everyone is not interested in your content. This is not a fault with your content or your content creators. It’s a simple fact of life. Even the most beloved movies, music, brands, etc. have their detractors and their super fans. The trick is to find the people who are truly interested in your content. Capturing the attention of a small group of engaged people that share your content will often take it further than exhausting attempts to chase a large majority that doesn’t really care.
While your content probably won’t cause overnight lines and media coverage like some of the world’s biggest brands, you should work to discover your ideal audience and be specific about it. The large categories I mentioned above are a good start, but dig in further. If your large audience is prospective students you should ask yourself some follow up questions. Are they just out of high school or are they transfer students? Do you know what kind of careers they want to get into? What kinds of questions do they have? The answers to these questions will help you find an audience that is interested in your content and will share it with their friends, family and colleagues.
Once you know your audience figure out what platforms they use. The Internet and social media are ever growing and evolving. Some new platforms and additions to existing social media will be perfect for your audience and others are better off being ignored. Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it will work for you.
Make sure your content works together.
Just like matching your shoes to an outfit, your content needs to compliment each other. Your Facebook posts and Tweets should have the same tone as your blog posts or webpage.
That said, each platform should have its own unique angle on each event. Please do not put the exact same content or wording on different platforms. This will bore your audience because if they take the time to read your blog, they probably follow your social media accounts. They don’t need to see the exact same content in multiple places.
For example, if you have an announcement about an event on Twitter and a related post on your blog, your tweet should send people to the blog. You could tweet something like, “Read our interview with XYZ scientist and attend tonight’s lecture at 7 p.m. in Beckman 404. [link to the blog post with the interview].”
Collaborate rather than copy.
The nature of the Internet is very open. People post open source programs and share information all the time. This often leads to the impression that it’s okay to just copy/paste useful information without adding to it. Even online this is still not okay. If you like something that another organization has created, that’s great. Please share that content with your audience through social media, but when it comes to putting it on a blog or webpage don’t copy.
Rather than copying, talk about your experience or opinion on that subject and then link to the content you liked. This could encourage dialogue and perhaps the organization that you linked to will link back to you. This will expose both of your audiences to a wider array of information. If you don’t have anything to add to the conversation, you shouldn’t create a page or blog post about that content. At that point, it is best just to include a link on a related page or just simply share it through social media.
The same rules apply to other departments on campus. Share, link or retweet their content, don’t copy it and send it out through your channels. The other department will appreciate the recognition of its good work and both of you will get an SEO bump from the shared attention. If you copy the content rather than sharing the original, search engines will not rank your copy of the page.
All of these suggestions may seem complex and time consuming, but it comes down to a simple premise. No matter what the topic or platform, if you can provide a unique perspective to an interested audience, your content will have a good chance to start off on the right foot.