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By: Jon-Stephen Stansel

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Your Content to Avoid the Summer Slowdown on Social

It can be hard enough to fuel a content calendar for an entire school year, yet alone when school’s out for summer. But with a bit of creativity, a whole lot of resourcefulness, and a dash of #hashtag know-how, you can uncover a bounty of social media content.

Marketing & Branding /
By: Jon-Stephen Stansel

6 minutes

Summer is here, and with it, university social media managers everywhere are struggling to find content. Students are gone. Campus is empty. Engagement is down. How do you maintain consistent and engaging content during the summer months?

Three words: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

  • Reduce: While many of us feel the need to always be posting, it’s fine to reduce the amount of content when times are slow.
  • Reuse: Look for successful or timely content that you can post again.
  • Recycle: Find opportunities to repurpose old content and create something new with it.

By following this simple, environmentalist mantra, you can stretch your content, maintain engagement, and improve the quality of your social media content through the summer months and well into the school year.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Reduce

There’s a lot of advice on social media blogs about how often you should post to your social accounts. Most of it is bunk. Don’t let anyone tell you there is a quota on how often you need to post to your university’s social media channels. Don’t post filler just to reach some imaginary magic number. Corie Morell-Martin of Western Kentucky University posted 16% LESS and INCREASED engagement 30% on Instagram. While a consistent posting strategy still needs to be maintained, cutting the fluff and approaching a “less, but better” content strategy can lead to long-term success.

So, what can you get rid of? Here are three suggestions to help you cut the clutter:

Daily Hashtags

Daily hashtags like #MondayMotivation, #TuesdayThoughts, and #WednesdayWisdom are just filler posts and really serve no purpose. Sure, if you have an inspiring quotation from your president or an alumnus, by all means, share it. But sharing a quotation from someone who has no connection to your school from your university’s Twitter account on some random Wednesday serves no real purpose beyond adding to the noise on social media.

Social Media Holidays

From #NationalHotDogDay to #NationalSiblingsDay, there’s a made-up social media holiday just about every day now. Unless the day applies to your university in some way, there’s really no need to jump on the train here. If it’s #NationalWolfDay and your mascot is a wolf, go for it. But don’t feel like you have to have content because it’s #InternationalWaffleDay…unless your cafeteria has some seriously good waffles.

Legitimate Holidays

While we are at it, it’s okay to skip posting for an actual legitimate holiday now and then. No one is hitting refresh waiting for your school’s Father’s Day post. If all you have to offer is a stock image or something from a Canva template and you don’t have any events or calls-to-action for the day, it’s okay to just sit some holidays out.

There are of course multiple exceptions and examples of really good holiday posts, but the bottom line is that if a post doesn’t serve a strategic purpose, cut it.

Reuse

When it comes to social media, most people seem to follow a “one and done” rule. A piece of content gets posted, either does well or doesn’t, and then it’s never thought of again. Would we do this for any other channel? Would you create a TV commercial and only air it once? Of course not. Give your content a few chances to shine! It’s perfectly fine to reuse your content multiple times across various channels.Take advantage of these common opportunities to reuse your social content:

In Case You Missed It

When a post does really well, it’s perfectly fine to rerun it as an “In case you missed it” (ICYMI) Tweet. The average lifespan of a Tweet is less than 30minutes. There’s a good chance the bulk of your audience missed it the first time you posted it. It’s fine to share it again a few days later and at a different time to capture a new audience. You can even try a “weekend roundup” and repost content that performed well during the week over the weekend.

Highlights for New Followers

In higher ed, we have a regular cycle of new followers. Every year when the recruiting cycle begins anew, we get a wave of new followers. Plan on sharing useful information to these new followers regularly.

There are some things you need to repeat at the beginning of every semester. During summer, you can post this content as a way to prepare incoming students for life at your school. This could include suggestions of useful accounts to follow, campus safety information, and other relevant campus resources. Take the time to craft quality content around these perennial posts and reuse it on a regular basis. Your new followers will find it useful and your older ones could probably use the reminder.

Timely Content

What’s old will become new again. Content you’ve published before will often become timely again. Don’t be afraid to reuse it and give it a new life. A blog post about a professor working in the field of immunology can be shared again during flu season. Re-share that alumni magazine article about an alumnus working on special effects make-up in Hollywood when it’s time for the summer blockbuster season. Given the title of this blog post is “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Your Content to Avoid the Summer Slowdown on Social” perhaps Volt might even re-share this article on Earth Day next year!

Recycle

For most university marketing departments, resources are slim. So, make the most of your content by stretching it out and repurposing it in new ways. One video project can lead to several smaller pieces of content. A photo session with your mascot can be used in any number of ways. It’s all about recycling or repurposing content in order to get the most out of the resources you have. Here are some other ideas to get you started recycling your content:

Logos

Turn your logos into GIF stickers! It’s not very difficult to add some subtle animation to your school’s logos in Photoshop and create GIF stickers for use on Snapchat and Instagram Stories. You don’t have to be a Pixar level animator to make the logo shake, grow, or flash. Your team’s graphic designer should be able to create basic GIF stickers for you. Think of this as a value add for most of your campaigns and events. Have a special logo for Homecoming or graduation? Turn them into GIF stickers for your community to share.

Design Rejects

Talk to your designers and see what rejected designs they have available. When working on projects, your design team likely goes through several designs before creating the final work. For example, at Texas State University, our design team presented the university president with three options for holiday cards every year. She picked one to use, leaving two designs unused. We took one of the rejected designs, reformatted it for social, and used that as our holiday post. This worked out extremely well for us because she never chose the best one!

View this post on Instagram

Season's greetings from #txst!

A post shared by Texas State University (@txst) on

Top Performing Posts

Compile your top performing posts for the year into a “Year in Review” blog post. This is a solid strategy for the summer doldrums and the content has already proven its worth, so why not make the most of it?

Experiment With New Formats

Find ways to reformat content. Make a video slideshow of successful Instagram posts or turn them into a photo collage. This is a great way to mix up the kind of content you are posting. Variety is the spice of life, and it helps your page work against the Facebook algorithm.

Finding quality content during the summer can be difficult. Even during the regular school year, it may seem like a constant struggle to keep your accounts active and consistently posting. But by accepting the fact that you don’t have to constantly be posting, you can reduce the filler and free up time to find ways to create better content. By sharing successful content on multiple occasions, you can reuse your best work and get the most mileage out of it. And by finding ways to repurpose elements of other content, you can recycle your resources and create something new and innovative from pre-existing elements.

Jon-Stephen Stansel

Jon-Stephen Stansel

Digital Media Specialist

Jon-Stephen Stansel is a social media professional with almost decade of experience managing and creating content for higher education, small business and government social media accounts. He has worked for the University of Central Arkansas, Texas State University, the Texas Department of Transportation, as well as consulting for many small businesses. In addition, he has taught courses in social media management and presented at many national and international conferences including HighEd Web, the International Congress of Technological Innovation in Buenos Aires, and the Association of International Educators. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Radio and Television Production and a Master’s degree in English both from Arkansas State University. He enjoys photography, reading, typography, and being an early adopter of technology.

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