With Content Calendars, Conserve Energy & Work Smarter, Not Harder: Choose a Hybrid Model

Posted by Taylor Haney on Mon, Jan 27, 2014

As we move into the last week of our social media theme we have a few more excellent posts that we want to share with you. Today we have a guest blog by Christina Kelleher, Social Media Strategist at Genuine Interactive. Christina dives into community management and how hybrid strategies are proving successful. 

CK headshotChristina Kelleher (@chkelleher) is a Social Media Strategist at Genuine Interactive in the South End where she works on strategy, content and execution of digital and social media campaigns with a mixture of CPG, financial services, education and healthcare clients. Previous to Genuine Interactive, she worked on the client side managing social media for PUMA.

In their most simplistic form, social networks exist to help users connect, create and communicate, whether that need is to convey quick thoughts, post fun videos or share pictures that highlight everything from dinner to baby’s first steps. In order for brands to be successful, they have to adapt to the environment – not the other way around. They have to make sense, mixing in with milestone moments, or a fan’s eyes will glaze over.

As most community managers will attest, a brand’s approach to community management and content planning has a lot to do with resources and how time is allocated. Brands typically use one of two approaches to content creation for social media:

  1. Monthly or periodic content calendars the community manager uses to post content. For the sake of argument, let’s call them monthly calendars. These are fully fleshed out and created ahead of time and ease day-to-day posting but don’t allow for much flexibility throughout the month. This approach tends to take a lot of time but makes it easier to tell longer, overarching brand and campaign stories.

  2. Few planned out posts and “calendars” with lots of last-minute updates. Often times this approach leaves community managers struggling to constantly create engaging content on the fly. This often happens with brands who don’t have a “digital first” approach and often social media content with news, product information or event updates aren’t communicated to the community manager much in advance.

So, what’s the best approach? Both, actually. This year is the year of the hybrid calendar. Brands will be best served by still creating overarching calendars to tell consistent stories but also setting themselves up to be able to react quickly. Consumers are posting timely, relevant, pop culture-related content and brands need to do the same. This does not mean every sporting event needs to be acknowledged or hot new show needs to be discussed, but as the community manager, when it makes sense to insert the brand into pop culture or current events, you should.

We all remember a certain famous cookie that rocked the Super Bowl with its perfectly timed tweet. While you can’t plan for a power outage, you can plan for the Super Bowl. This doesn’t mean everything can or should be created on an ad hoc basis, but creating a calendar with more of a half-and-half approach will help brands post consistently (à la monthly calendars) but also be reactive.

As someone who has done content strategy and community management both on the brand and agency sides, I know the idea of not knowing what you’re going to post every day can be somewhat unnerving. Getting to this point is all about how a team is structured.

There is a myth that brands need to have budgets similar to Oreo to support effective, timely, engaging content creation. In reality, you just need a community manager with time allotted to think about your brand and the resources and permission to act quickly. That community manager can be either someone at the brand or someone at an agency, but they need to be empowered to think creatively and act decisively.

Hybrid calendars can be achieved by fully planning out and creating half a month’s worth of content and adding placeholders for the remaining content, whether it is around national sporting events, relevant movie releases, holidays, etc. The pre-planned posts should be somewhat flexible so that if something timely arises, an ad hoc reactionary post can be generated.

Brands that adapt their social media strategies to be more nimble will be the brands that remain relevant as the battle for screen space continues.