THE WHY

College event planning always involves a lot of questions: What is the timeline? Who is doing what? What assets do we need? What’s our budget? What will the venue be? These are just some of the many questions people try to answer meanwhile promotional marketing tends to get shafted in the logistical nightmare. When few people show up to an event, there is a unanimous sinking feeling and “what did we do wrong?” that reverberates throughout the event committee.

One of the easiest ways to proactively counteract the oh-no-nobody-came danger that lurks behind all events is to make a Social Media Editorial Calendar. This is a good tool to help you plan how you want to lure more people to go to an event.  It also helps with event attendance reviews. You can see what type of social media posts garnered the best response and match engagement data with turnout numbers.

The goal of a SMEC is to have everything set up and ready to go before your target social media posting start date. This will give you an opportunity to collect information and style the posts to necessary requirements beforehand. You should be able to just copy-and-paste the post directly from the calendar to the social media platform.

FORMAT

A great ready-made template for a Social Media Editorial Calendar is to take Microsoft Word’s Weekly Assignment Calendar and tweak it. It can be found under the New tab.

cal1

Make a few adjustments and you end with this:

cal2
It takes ~30 minutes to reformat it the first time. Save it as a template before you start drafting posts for a worry-free experience next time around. It’s a nice professional looking design and as a fun note, I’ve matched some of the heading colors to certain brand logos. I used Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the social media channels here but you can substitute anything you’d like to use instead. You can add overlapping categories (Facebook + Instagram) as its own heading.

DECISION VARIABLES

Go through your event timeline and figure out how long you have until the finale go time day. Set up interim check dates of when you would like to start and end social media posting for the event. The last social media post should be a post-event ‘Thank You.’ Decide how frequently you’d like to stagger posts on each channel. Have a ramp-up time period with increased publishing closer to the deadline. Determine whether to go with manual or scheduled posting before the first one goes live.

POSTING SCHEDULE

A posting rule of thumb is 2-3 posts/week in the preceding month before the event. Rotate between days within following weeks. For example:

  • For one week have: Instagram on Monday, Facebook on Wednesday, Twitter on Friday
  • Next week would be: Twitter and Facebook on Tuesday, Instagram on Thursday

Try to always have fresh material in different channels. Mix up the posts, especially posts (no matter how far apart they are if it’s still regarding one event) on the same channel. Nobody wants to be spammed with “GO TO THIS EVENT” over and over again. Alternate between informational, entertaining, and behind-the-scenes inspiration posts, e.g. if you’re promoting a bake sale, post a picture of somebody in the event baking or even a recipe. Audiences need to be able to experience value before they decide to attend an event. It’s like watching a trailer before going to see a movie.

If you’re promoting an event that you think may not have an amazing turnout due to potentially boring material, focus on what would be relevant to the students even if it’s not the direct material. Is it a chance to hang with awesome people, take a break from studying, or get free food bribes?

1-2 weeks before the event, go up to 3-5 posts across all channels. These posts will mostly be “Don’t forget about the event! It’s not too late to join!” but still vary how you present and bookend that message.

TEN IDEAS AND REMINDERS

  1. Have all links be hyperlinked and shortened already in the calendar.
  2. If you’re posting on Twitter, double check that the post is within 140 characters.
  3. If you’re going to post pictures, have it uploaded to Google drive where everybody can access it. The calendar should have a [placeholder] name with its Google drive name and location so people can find it easily and drop it into the platform. Check that the pictures are within the channel’s required dimensions.
  4. Design Canva graphics for Instagram posts.
  5. Post “soundbytes” from quick pre-event interviews if your event involves speakers.
  6. Link to a poll if your event involves some sort of contest or competition and ask your audience who they think should win.
  7. Have throwback posts from previous years of the event. Show pictures from last year or updates on last year’s speakers/winners. #tbt is a popular tag and is tailored for Instagram.
  8. Set up a liveblogging hashtag (#SchoolNameEventYear: #HogwartsHouseSorting2016) and post during the event on Twitter.
  9. Collect attendees’ social media handles and send them a post-event survey. Make social media shoutouts to them if they volunteered during the event.
  10. If food is going to be at the event, post a picture collage of the food and sponsors that will be there, such as: brand logos, appealing pictures of themed food, etc.

DISCUSSION

Have you guys ever used a social media calendar to help boost event attendance before? How did it go? If you haven’t, let us know if you decide to try this as an experiment and if it boosted your numbers.