How to Enable Content Contributors in Higher Ed

April 12, 2016
emily amos

Getting your extended team to “write more” is a major challenge for marketing & communications departments. Of course, the refrain from contributors and potential contributors is often the same:

  • “I don’t have time”
  • “I don’t know what to write about”
  • “I will write, but just let me finish Project X first”

How is it, then, that they have no trouble contributing content to their own social media throughout the day? The reason that these talented folks are not prioritizing your need for content over their daily tasks is simple. It just isn’t a core part of their work stream. It’s not that they don’t like you. And it’s not that they want to see you fail. No, it’s just not connected to what they need to do every day.

So your job then becomes figuring out how to make their contributions a seamless part of their daily work. Here are six ways to engage your contributors and get them to produce more:

1. Capture their feeds

See what kinds of things they are interested in by following them on relevant social media. Then arm them with ideas that are aligned with their areas of interest. It’s not surprising that they’ll be more inspired to contribute if they can write about things they are actually interested in.

2. Grab existing content

Most of your contributors (or prospective contributors) are likely already producing content. Whether it is a report, a strategy document or email briefings, you can sift through this content for nuggets that would be relevant to your content strategy, and then work with the contributors to create the piece.

3. Connect the contributions to their goals

“Making a contribution” is not a goal that resonates here. Instead, you need to have a solid understanding of what your contributor’s goals are and how participating in your content strategy will help them reach their goals.

4. Be persistent

It’s not enough to talk to a key contributor once, or even successfully secure a piece of content once. Create a plan for repeated contributions at a pace that makes sense for the contributor.

5. Set deadlines

Agree on a reasonable turnaround time with your contributor and then stick to it. Without a deadline, your contributor is likely to get sucked into other projects that push yours down the priority list. Check in periodically. Once you get the content, put the content piece into production as soon as possible. There’s nothing worse than finally getting the content and having it languish in the editorial cycle.

6. Share successes

Let your contributor know the results of their contribution. Show them how it helped you achieve organizational goals, and publicize that success throughout the organization.

Getting contributions from your extended team takes work, but it’s an important part of your content strategy. By following the six steps above, you will be able to more easily create a sustainable contributor program.

What do you think? Have you had success getting your team to contribute content?  Share your ideas in the comments below.

Emily Amos of Word Savvy is a Halifax web writer and web content strategist.

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