Content Strategy, Creation, Organization, and Measurement | Beth’s Blog

Content Strategy, Creation, Organization, and Measurement

Content

Some of you may remember that I shared a depressing screen capture of my Facebook Insights visual right after taking a two-week break during the holidays. The comments in the thread were terrific and generated a blog post: http://www.bethkanter.org/getting-started.   But more importantly, I wanted to close the loop and show you that after getting back to a consistent editorial calendar, the engagement and reach came back from vacation. Now, I think I just might be able to enjoy my next vacation without stressing myself out about having to post.   I think that is an important insight for small organizations who don’t have a team of people doing the social media and trying to do it with limited hours in the day.

One of the posts that got a lot of engagement and contributed to the uphill trend in the metrics was about editorial calendars.   This post generating a lot of thoughtful discussion about nonprofits approach the editorial planning process as well as sharing of different editorial calendar templates.

But it is important to understand that there is a process behind the template.  I asked fans on Facebook, “Does your organization use an editorial calendar and “editorial meetings” to get ideas and manage content for a content strategy?”  Here’s some insights generated through the discussion about that:

  • Allocate Staff Meeting Time: Teresa Crawford reported that her organization devotes some time at  staff meetings each week to see what content  is catching the most interest, what messages seem to have the greatest reach.   Her team members  use both a Google spreadsheet, Google Cal and Jira to manage it all.
  • Regular Content Editorial Meetings: At the Case Foundation,  Jenna Sauber reported that they have editorial meetings every two weeks to plot out content in detail.  The meeting runs over upcoming: events, seasonal tie-ins, program launches or milestones, etc.  They talk through all the various components. Additionally, they start initial brainstorms and start generating idea – should it be a  promotion, just a blog post, an email, etc.  These meetings in addition to other check ins and end of year planning all comes together to plot out our themes and strategy.
  • Set Next Steps at Meetings: Marnie Webb at TechSoup Global  says they also  use a weekly meeting to report on efforts and make the next set of decisions. Those decisions are implemented across the organization’s web properties and social channels. . The work is tracked in a shared spreadsheet and accompanying meeting notes.
  • Have Your Metrics In Hand: Says Marnie, “We found the meeting format to work well so that we were better managing the main messages of the content, differentiating across properties but, most important, kept a team bought into the goals and able to make quick changes based on what we learned from metrics. For us, this has been linked not just to content like articles a blog posts but also forum threads, email outreach, and broad campaigns — like our recent Cloud Survey. So we want to make sure that we getting conversions from our content — which, depending on the content type, is a variety of next actions.”

 

What are the metrics for measuring your content?  Of course, it depends on your objectives and audience, but here is a framework to help you think about it.

These suggestions also might work for smaller organizations where there is one person managing the social media or for consultants like me who are a one-person shop.  My colleague, Debra Askansae, who is a blogger and consultant with nonprofits recently wrote a great post about taking her medicine and this follow up post about content calendars.   She asked me in the Facebook thread whether or not I used an editorial calendar.

My answer:  Yes!  Ever since I’ve been recommending it and teaching it to nonprofits after being inspired by Holly Minch’s model in 2011. (I can’t facilitate peer learning groups, design/write curriculum, or coach unless I’ve had the experience myself).   I’m basically a one person shop – so I do it all which gives me great empathy for those of you who are in that position.   However,  I adapt many of the ideas that work for larger organizations – and try to do them in a simpler way so it takes less time.

I have an editorial calendar where I map out themes for the year – topics that relate to being a networked nonprofit, measurement, capacity building/training, and social media.  I blog because it helps me in the work I do as trainer — so many times my posts will help me generate a presentation or curriculum.    Other ideas come from people that are in the peer groups I facilitate or engagement/discussion from blog comments or social channels. I balance content between my own writing and guest posts.     I also look at particular holidays or events in the nonprofit tech field that I want to cover.  These all go on a google calendar – the theme and title.

To develop my content pipeline,  I maintain an idea dashboard.  I monitor, track, and curate daily on the topics and sub-topics related to my themes and write out quick drafts with links in my idea dashboard (in Evernote) and I actually like to keep a written journal – because ideas come to me off line from my training work.      Once a week I have a meeting with myself to finalize the week’s content and look at the whole month while reviewing my metrics.   For the metrics,  I don’t just look at numbers, I also do an analysis of engagement around content – as well as keep a running list of what topics/formats worked pretty well.  Over the past 5 years since I’ve been analyzing metrics and my content, I have a good list of the topics that do well.

Since I use an idea dashboard to develop my content — it includes links, general structure for the blog post, format, etc .. I can quickly get a draft into my blogging platform.     Then when I am ready to publish I refine the posts when they are ready to be published. Sometimes I ditch what I had planned because of some breaking news.

My blog content is the driver of what I post on social channels, I just optimize the content for that channel.  I also use specific metrics on the channel to guide me.  I also share curated links through social channels.   The curation is part of my work flow to write the blog post and keep myself informed, so it isn’t extra work.  I do have to time box it though because I only allocate 30 minutes a day to curation.

This might sound like a lot of work, but what I have done is cut the salami up into smaller pieces.  I find it daunting to decide on a topic, research a topic, write and revise a blog draft, and share it on other social channels.  So, if I can break up the process into smaller chunks over time,  it is much more efficient for me and I am less proned to procrastinate.

What’s your content idea development process?  What role do your metrics play in your editorial decision-making?  How do you manage it all?

 

21 Responses

  1. [...] Some of you may remember that I shared a depressing screen capture of my Facebook Insights visual right after taking a two-week break during the holidays.  [...]

  2. Beth, I can’t thank you enough for the idea of the idea dashboard! I still craft posts the way you describe towards the end (decide on a topic, research a topic, find links, etc.) Posts can take hours. I love the idea of dividing it into manageable bites, adding links as I begin to think about it, and essentially have an outline by the time I write. The key, to me, is both the overall content calendar outline (offering structure) and the idea dashboard (offering a place to begin the post).

    There’s a public Google doc that I found a long time ago online which I’ve never been able to find since. However, the idea seems relevant to share here: essentially create an excel spreadsheet of days of the week, and fill in the content by date. Then, off to the side, were “idea buckets” that you would customize. In you case it might be “guest posts” or “content strategy” or any regular blogging topic you write about. They are, basically, the idea dashboard.

    Thanks for transparently blogging about your process; it’s certainly pushed my thinking about my own blog’s content.

  3. Beth says:

    Debra: I have another post that I will be publishing next week and it goes a little deeper into the idea dashboard concept, what it is, tools, etc. Look forward to getting your reaction.

  4. [...] Some of you may remember that I shared a depressing screen capture of my Facebook Insights visual right after taking a two-week break during the holidays.  [...]

  5. Beth, will await the post and certainly offer my thoughts on it.

    On a related topic, I just finished John McPhee’s New Yorker article about how he goes about structuring his non-fiction pieces (I am an unabashed raving John McPhee fan). There are so many terrific ideas within that piece, which I think you might find useful. Unfortunately, you have to subscribe to The New Yorker to read the entire article, or find a friend who still has the January 14, 2013 issue on hand. Here’s a link to a synopsis: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/01/14/130114fa_fact_mcphee

  6. David says:

    Developing great content is really a tiresome job if inspiration won’t come naturally.But as I have produce on a daily basis, so I am more using curation for time sake. But the methods in details you put here is really a true guidance in this direction.Previously I was more prone to passive writing by selecting topic randomly from web. But gradually I picked of certain points within a subject and tried to develop in those things.

  7. [...] Some of you may remember that I shared a depressing screen capture of my Facebook Insights visual right after taking a two-week break during the holidays.  [...]

  8. sanket patel says:

    It really valuable guidance in right directions.The process of developing consultants are efficient with managing surviving.It really creative insights with visuals terrific channels.

  9. [...] Blog: Content Strategy, Creation, Organization, and Measurement socialmediatoday: Don’t Blame Facebook: 10 Reasons Low Conversion Rates Are YOUR Fault [...]

  10. [...] Here are some thoughts about the process of Content Strategy, Creation, Organization, and Measurement. [...]

  11. [...] Here are some thoughts about the process of Content Strategy, Creation, Organization, and Measurement. [...]

  12. [...] a publisher? If so, do you have an editorial calendar? If you answered “no”, you should read this post by Beth Kanter on how your content strategy can suffer without a proper editorial [...]

  13. Carly Severn says:

    This is a great inspiration, Beth! Love the advice to bolster on-the-fly creativity with metrics-driven decision-making. Time to upgrade from my desktop ‘Sticky Notes’, I think…

  14. Alex says:

    Beth — Very helpful as usual. While I’m learning about various calendar TOOLS (e.g., Lightbox), I’d love to see some examples of *actual* editorial calendars to get a sense of how people plot content across various channels. Anyone willing to share an actual calendar? Email me at ahwalk at gmail dot com

    Thanks
    Alex

  15. [...] its against outcomes this week.    One idea that came up in my post earlier this week about creating and measuring content, was the concept of an idea dashboard.     This post takes it a bit [...]

  16. [...] Beth Kanter schon seit 2011 einen redaktionellen Kalender führt, wie sie in ihrem Beitrag “Content Strategy, Creation, Organization, and Measurement” schreibt, hat Debra Askanase erst jetzt mit einem “Content Calendar” [...]

  17. [...] on what to post, check out Beth Kantor’s excellent blog and specifically her article: Content Strategy, Creation, Organization, and Measurement. She also discusses the way you can add a blog into your social media strategy mix. Reach out to [...]

  18. [...] on what to post, check out Beth Kantor’s excellent blog and specifically her article: Content Strategy, Creation, Organization, and Measurement. She also discusses the way you can add a blog into your social media strategy mix. Reach out to [...]

  19. [...] Some of you may remember that I shared a depressing screen capture of my Facebook Insights visual right after taking a two-week break during the holidays.  [...]

  20. [...] Some of you may remember that I shared a depressing screen capture of my Facebook Insights visual right after taking a two-week break during the holidays.  [...]

  21. Jill Mendez says:

    It is a very informative post on how to do content strategy. I am in the middle of planning what is best to do it my content strategy and it is good that I found your post. Geat thanks.