One of the keys to a great social media program is careful planning. Hopefully this planning will take place before your program begins, but if not, you can always come up with a strategy at a later point. In my mind, having a calendar is essential to this plan. I don’t mean a schedule of when posts go out (although you should have one of those as well), but a schedule of topics, themes, events, and special days. The purpose of this calendar is to provide ideas for content.
For example, I’ve started a calendar at the University Archives. I’ve already added holidays, library and archives events (see below), and UMD-specific events and anniversaries I know about. These UMD events include academic dates (registration, first and last days of terms, midterms and finals, etc.), sports dates (Homecoming, games with rivals, opening and closing games for teams’ seasons, etc.), any theater or music events I can find, and annual celebrations like Maryland Day. My supervisors are working on a more detailed list of events (they know a lot more about UMD history than I can ever hope to). Their list includes important events on the university’s timeline, birth- and death-dates of important UMD-related people, and anniversaries, among other things (pretty soon we’ll be remembering the 100th anniversary of the Great Fire of 1912). I’ve also added events specific to this year, like the London Olympics and the anniversaries to every important historical event under the sun (I mean, really, the Civil War, the Titanic, Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, and American Idol?). I’ve also added fun things like International Talk Like a Pirate Day, Talk Like Jane Austen Day, and World Turtle Day (for Testudo the Terrapin, of course).
All of these events are great ways to share a fun photo, a quick fact, an appropriate subject guide or finding aid, or a related book or document. Or, if you want to spend more time on a theme or event, you can set up a series of blog posts, tweets, share an album on Flickr, make a YouTube video, etc. The calendar is just a place for you to go and find ideas, or to remind yourself of important dates. It’s not important for you to have something on the calendar every day or week, but make sure to list out as much as possible. That way you always have something to talk about. You can even schedule content ahead of time using content management systems like Hootsuite and TweetDeck.
Make sure to always mark library- and archives-related events, like Preservation Week, American Archives Month, Day of Digital Archives, Ask an Archivist Day, National Book Festival, National Read Across America Day, National Library Week, etc. These are great opportunities to promote your collections to the public.
You can format this calendar any way you want. It might be a simple list of dates and details, a paper calendar, an Excel doc, or a Google Calendar. I find I like Google Calendar and email-based calendars like Outlook because you can schedule reminders for yourself. However you format it, make sure to keep it in a prominent location and check it often.
This calendar will hopefully be useful to you many years in a row. Of course, dates might change, and special events or anniversaries vary year-by-year, but holidays, themes, and annual events can often be carried over to a new year.
How do you plan out your social media content? Do you like to schedule posts ahead of time, or go with the flow the day of?