How we manage a social media presence on a shoestring, part 1: Our blog

For some time now, I’ve been meaning to provide some behind-the-scenes insight into how we maintain Stratepedia’s presence on the social media landscape. As you may know, we have this blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and other accounts to which we regularly post content. There are two of us primarily involved in feeding these accounts–Amber and me–and neither of us is a full-time social media manager. Nor do we claim to be social media experts (if we did, we could probably make quite a bit of money as consultants!). We just recognize that social media is a great, cost-effective way to help us spread the news about great work people are doing and how it relates to education technology. This series will show how we do it.

To kick things off, let’s take a look at our blog. What started off as a means to keep people updated on our services has become the most popular service we provide. The blog is the cornerstone of our social media presence–for the most part, fresh content we develop lives here and is disseminated via our social network accounts.

Since we have our own servers, we’re able to host our blog ourself using WordPress. WordPress is a popular content management system, or CMS, tuned primarily for blog publishing. It’s got its pros and cons, which I don’t have time to delve into right now, and there are definitely other options out there for self-hosted blogs. There are at least as many options for those of you who don’t have your own server, and need to rely on a hosting service to get your message out. Take a look at a post I wrote last November, detailing 5 ways to start blogging today, for a few hosting options. Most providers offer a free level that’s perfect for getting started, with premium levels as you add content or features to your blog.

Owning a blog is one thing, but how do we find time to keep it up-to-date with fresh content? Some suggestions:

  • Establish a theme: It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s actually easier to find things to write about if you contain yourself to a theme or common thread. This theme should ideally be something you’re interested in, because then you’ll be doing the research necessary for each blog post anyway. By blogging your own thoughts about what you read, you’re establishing yourself as an opinionated voice on the topic and making yourself better-informed about it through reflection.
  • Share the work: If I were responsible for all the content on this blog, it would get updated, at most, a couple of times a week. By splitting the workload, though, we’re able to provide at least one new post every weekday, not counting automated posts (more on that in a minute). Find a friend or coworker with a shared interest, and start blogging!
  • Set a schedule: If you want to become really prolific at blogging, establish a schedule and then stick to it. In our case, we have a roundup of the previous week on Monday (written by me), a general ed tech piece on Tuesday (me), a general ed tech piece on Wednesday (Amber), a definition of the week (Amber), and the Friday Five series (me). We trade sometimes. We also have guest contributors like Dave contribute from time to time–helpful when we’re especially busy or during vacations.
  • Write ahead: Want to know a secret? I’m writing this on Monday, but you won’t see it until Tuesday. Most blogging software allows you to schedule posts for future publication. Most of our new content gets sent out early in the morning of its publication date, for reasons I’ll reveal in a future post about offering subscriptions to your blog. If you’ve got some time today, and know you’ll be busy around the time you’ve scheduled your next post to be released, get a jump start on it!
  • Cheat where necessary: Every afternoon, around 2:00 central time, we publish a list of daily links. Here’s another secret: This is entirely automated. You know that research I alluded to earlier? As we find interesting items we want to share with others (and possibly write in more detail in a full-on blog post) we add them to our account on the Delicious bookmarking service. These links, along with any commentary we add, are provided in digest form daily on our blog. I’ll cover how we make this work in a future post.

Those are the basics behind our blog. Next week I’ll delve into the many ways you can subscribe to our blog to be notified when we’ve added content. If you’ve got additional tips or questions, please post them in the comments area below–I’d love to hear what you think.

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Related posts:

  1. How we manage a social media presence on a shoestring, part 4: Facebook
  2. How we manage a social media presence on a shoestring, part 2: Keeping the audience connected
  3. How we manage a social media presence on a shoestring, part 3: Twitter
  4. What businesses can do to benefit from social media
  5. Getting started with social media: The 5 P’s

Aaron Sumner

Aaron Sumner is the Director of Technology for Research and Development at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. He has worked in web development and instructional technology since 1994.