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Looking Back, Part III: Content Generation

I am currently a student at The Maxwell School at Syracuse University working towards my Masters in Public Administration. I use this blog to write about my experiences at Maxwell, especially related to social media use in the public sector. You can follow me on Twitter: @pjfiorenza and please feel free to leave some comments! http://pjfiorenza.wordpress.com/


Ah, my favorite part of social media – generating content. By far this was the most fun I had at Syracuse Habitat. This will wrap up my looking back series, there are a couple points I did not touch on – I will save those for future posts. So you are all ready and geared up to start your social media, you have your tools selected, you are beginning to craft your policies and usage guidelines, and now you start thinking of what are we going to post? This is where the real fun begins. So here is a quick list of things to consider when generating content:

1) Does this relate to my mission?

This is so important, I am sounding like a broken record. Drill this into your employees brains as I have to my readers – mission centric content. Please!

2) Break Down Silos and Design a Physical Space to Collaborate with Social Media

Using social media should not be a one-person shop. Social media should encompass numerous people in your organization. Ask co-workers to guest blog, tweet and help generate your content for any platform. This could be something as simple as asking for photos from an event to post to FlickR. Also, some people hold knowledge in your organization and have networks with others you simply do not. By including them you are building a larger audience by including their network.

Developing a task-force or social media committee is a great idea. Ask people from different branches, different departments, external actors (customers/client/citizens), Board Members, and managers to take part in the committee – this will make your content encompass all your actors and give you some balance. Something as easy as setting up a wiki where people could share ideas, content ideas and collaborate would be a great way to help your organization generate meaningful content.

3) How can I digitize contact points of my organization?

Think about the service you provide as an organization and then think about every single contact point between you and your client – how can we bring this to the web? At Habitat I thought about this as the process between homeowner applicant to homeowner. The contact points are (1) deciding to apply to Habitat (2) the application (3) the waiting (4) hearing you have been accepted as a homeowner (5) construction of the home (6) interacting with volunteers (7) move in day (8) follow up how the home as been a transformative experience. At every contact point I either created a blog post or integrated the point into a post. Digitize your experience – break it down and think about the stories that would be great to tell to your given audience.

4) How can I be efficient with my posts – it takes too long to write content.

Yes, writing a blog, Tweeting, uploading photos, Facebook, FourSquare, all takes time. One thing that I found very useful was to develop a stock pile of articles, so when I was getting really busy I was still able to publish content. I got the idea from speaking with a friend who worked for a newspaper, he explained that if he had a slow day of news he always kept a draw with personal interest stories to publish. I thought that this was a great idea for social media. I wrote a list of potential blog topics that were not time sensitive and began chopping away at the list. Eventually I was able to plot out what posts I wanted to post and when – this took sometime at first, but in the long run I was pleased to always have content ready to go. If you can develop a packet of stories, blog posts, tweets – you will save significant time.

These are just some real quick points. Generating content was a lot of fun, it is at the heart of your social media program. In my program, I took each social network and wrote out potential content and always made sure that the content related back to our mission. This process isn’t something you just do at the beginning of your program, social media does not have a definitive end-point – get your task-force and committee going and keep your ideas for content rolling. Finally, make sure you’re having fun! You’re engaging with your organizations stakeholders and furthering your mission – this should be a rewarding experience!

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