Odds are good that your organization is using multiple communications channels to reach people, from social media to direct mail and email to websites and blogs. Because each can attract a different audience, and may be better-suited for certain types and lengths of content, coordinating among them all can be difficult.
You want to provide useful, interesting, mission-related information to use each channel successfully and meet the expectations of the people who follow you, but how do you keep each channel different enough to be interesting on its own without turning content-creation into a full-time job?
To start sharing your content-related efforts among each of your channels requires strategic thinking in four areas: Creating, Curating, Promoting, and Community-Building.
Are you creating new, original, informational content for each channel you’re using? That kind of content may not be necessary for all your different communications. People frequently write news stories or opinion pieces for some channels, like their websites, email newsletters or blogs, while using others to share reposts, links or other means of “re-using” content.
Increasingly, organizations are talking about “curating” content as another way to provide a lot of value in communications. For many, this means following news, blogs or other resources in your topic area and linking to particularly useful resources on your blog, in an eNews or on Twitter. Curating information created by other organizations and individuals is a useful way to bring other voices into your mix, but don’t forget you can also curate your own materials.
Promoting your own campaigns, events and fundraising appeals is another important part of your external communications. It can also be a substantial piece of channels like direct mail, which you may not be using very often. Don’t be shy about promoting your own cause.
The ability to engage your audience is one of the benefits of online communications. Inspiring them to respond to posts and to talk to each other and generally creating a sense of community for your cause can, and should, be an important part of your mix—particularly for social media channels. Ask questions of readers, encourage them to post comments, and solicit their answers to questions posted by other readers.
What’s the balance you should aim for? You will likely have a different mix on each channel. For instance, you might decide that the vast majority of information on your blog should be new stories and opinion pieces written specifically for the blog, but that the primary goal of your Facebook page is to build community and promote events and resources.
Consider what types of content will work best for each channel, and how much of each type your organization is likely to need. That mix is likely to change for different channels, and will depend on your organization and goals, but remember that different channels lend themselves better to different types of communications. For instance, direct mail and email are very important communications method for many organizations, but neither is a great way to build community. Instead, they’re both great places to share original content, to ask people to take action with promotions or appeals, or even to provide some curated resources or links as part of newsletter.
Remember, there’s no absolute right answer—it’s a work in progress, so don’t be afraid to change things around if they’re not working. In the end, mapping them out can help you think them through by more clearly showing what you’re doing, help you to be more strategic about how each channel is contributing to your overall goals, and lead to better communications.