As a school marketer, you know how important – and taxing – it can be to stay on top of content creation. The entire process – from topic research, planning, collaboration, editing, citing credible sources, and the crowning touch – attractive graphics to use for social media distribution all are time-consuming tasks.
And we’re not alone. In their 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, Social Media Examiner found that 63% of marketers use social media 6 hours or more per week. And, almost 1 in 5 spend more than 20 hours per week on social media content distribution. That’s a major time commitment!
At some point, most content marketers have to consider how they can streamline the creation process. Optimizing the process can also help to improve the responses from your audience. Fortunately, if you take a strategic approach, you can save time without sacrificing quality.
Here are 9 ways to save time creating irresistible content for your school’s marketing campaigns.
Have regular brainstorming sessions
One of the hardest – and most frustrating – parts of creating content is coming up with topics. It can seem like every idea you come up with has been covered many times. One of the best ways to get around this is to set aside every week for a brainstorming session with your team.
During your brainstorming sessions, start by asking questions like:
- What happened at our school this week?
- What questions have potential enrollees been asking lately?
- What topics have been coming up lately on social media?
- What type of content has gotten engagement from other schools that are similar to yours?
- Which blog posts on your site has been the most popular?
Streamline your research
Researching topics ideas can eat up enormous amounts of time. We all want to create content that our audience will find interesting, engaging and helpful. You can do research in 2 ways. One, you go out and find topics. Use general research tools like AnswerThePublic, Quora and Twitter Advanced Search for searching. You’ll be amazed at the ideas you can find!
Secondly, set up feeds in Feedly or alerts in Google Alerts, Mention or GigaAlerts. This way, ideas are coming to you. Use keywords that will pull in related content that you can scour and source ideas from.
Create an editorial calendar
This is by far the best time-saving tip. There’s nothing harder than trying to come up with a topic at the last minute. When you have a plan and an idea for each blog post, all of a sudden it’s easier to sit down and write that blog post or other types of media.
I use a simple spreadsheet layout. An editorial calendar doesn’t have to be fancy. Here are the elements I use for my calendar, but you can use whatever elements work best for you and your team.
- Publish date. Date content will be published.
- Submission date. Date content needs to be submitted for review and editing.
- Theme. Themes make it easier to make sure you are covering your content pillars (5-6 core topics that are central to your school) over the course of the week, month and year. Themes help you view your content from an overall perspective, like looking at a map.
- Keyword. Identify your keyword (preferably a long-tail keyword) early in the creation process to help you naturally include it in your content.
- Topic. Write down a possible topic or headline for the content.
- Type of content. Will you be writing a blog post? Guest blogger? Podcast? Interview someone? Create a video? Photographs? Live streaming event? Infographic? Graphics?
- Who’s responsible? Who on your team will be responsible for researching and creating the content for that topic?
- Notes. Add in any notes, thoughts, ideas, sources, etc. for that topic.
Schedule creation time
This is easier said than done, believe me. However, if you set aside time on your calendar and make sure to cancel or reschedule your creative time, you’ll have a better chance of having a relaxed, enjoyable time to write and create.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but setting goals – like how quickly you can write a blog post – will help you strive to achieve them. Some bloggers set goals for word count, others for overall writing time, and still others for writing and creative graphic design inclusion time also. Figure out what metric will have the greatest impact on your schedule and drive yourself to keep improving.
This can be so hard, especially if you’re writing from a home office. Find a way to shut out the outside world and focus solely on the task at hand.
Be ruthless about eliminating distractions.
- Turn off phone notifications.
- Stay away from social media and online sites that are distracting.
- Let others know you don’t want interruptions.
- Create an environment that is conducive to creativity. Some people prefer music. Myself, I like the quiet.
If you can manage your distractions, you will find your focus and productivity will improve dramatically.
Repurpose and republish older content
Some content just needs a little twist, anecdote or narration in order to be relevant. And, believe it or not, you can post the same content more than once on social networks. Many of your fans and followers will have missed the post or tweet the first time – so you’re actually doing them a favor by reposting it!
Find an editor who will help you improve your writing
The best editors will show you what they edited and will give you feedback to help you write better. The better your writing, the faster you will write and the less time that will be needed for editing in the future.
Develop a repeatable system for distribution
Create a process you can repeat every time you are ready to distribute your content to take the guesswork out of where and how to promote your finished work. Your system should include the following elements:
- What platforms will be used to publish and distribute the content
- Where the content will be promoted
- How the promotion will occur
- How mentions and influencers will be notified and noted
- The duration of the promotion on each platform
- How the content will be repurposed in the future
By having a distribution process you can follow each time you publish content, you will save time, effort and angst trying to figure out where and how to distribute.
Build on the best
When it comes to content marketing, there is a proliferation of information out in the marketplace. Take advantage of what’s already out there and, instead of trying to come up with something from scratch or repeating the ideas of others in the same industry, take the skyscraper approach that encourages you to find the best work that’s out there and build on it.
One tool that is very helpful when it comes to building on the work of others is Buzzsumo. Buzzsumo will display the top-shared articles related to a specific topic. You can use this information to create new content that will stand out from everyone else’s.
It takes time and effort to succeed at content marketing. However, being smart about your subject matter and streamlining your processes will help you save time while producing top-quality work.
What strategies have you used to help you save time while creating content? Please share below what’s worked for you. Your fellow school marketers would love to learn from your experience!
Also published on Medium.