10 Steps to Building a Better Blog

hello cut letters sign

Hope boasts over 40 blogs on the college’s blog network ranging in focus from faculty and administrative work to admissions features for prospective students. Public Affairs and Marketing helps maintain our network and serves as a campus resource to help our bloggers improve their site and their posts. We’re here to help you get better at blogging — and to blog more!

Here are some tips for getting started:

  1. Know your audience. Decide who you’re writing for even before you start typing.
  2. Think like your audience. What do they care about? What do they want and need to know? How do they talk and write? Write for them.
  3. What’s your topic? Start with a general topic but know that it can evolve once you’ve started and that is OK! Subheadings are great for breaking up ideas.
  4. Have a lot to say? Simplify your post with a bulleted list or create a series of shorter blog posts.
  5. At a loss for words? No worries. Sometimes a paragraph or two, or even a short list, is all you need to say. Or, if you’re stumped, start by simply ask yourself questions about your topic and then answer them. Voila! You have a new post.
  6. Include a graphic, photo or short video that supports your writing.
    macbook and coffee
  7. Include links to relevant and/or additional information. If you like this post, you might like 12 Blogging mistakes most beginners make.
  8. Publish your post when your audience will have time to read it — and when they expect it. Timing matters. For example, don’t wait until two days before to tell people about your event; And, publish on weekdays if it’s work related (but avoid Mondays and Fridays).
  9. After your post is published, share it to your social media by telling people what’s in it for them. Give your followers a reason to click through. It’s OK to repurpose content over and over, too. Create a strategy for promoting your blog on social.
  10. Keep at it! Decide how often your blog needs fresh material and work to follow a consistent publishing schedule. Your followers will come to expect and enjoy your new content on a regular basis.

Still have questions about improving your blog? Contact Elizabeth Council in Public Affairs and Marketing to schedule a consultation. 

Instagram vs. Snapchat Stories: Why I’m (Still) Obsessed With Both

2017 is the year of the social media story. Originally created and monopolized by Snapchat, “Stories” is also a feature of Instagram (and Facebook, with little use), and is eerily similar to the Snappy original.

It’s here that I need to admit that, when Instagram originally added the Stories feature, I was flummoxed. Flabbergasted. And angry. The update came around not long after I began my first social media marketing job. I was at work when it surfaced on each person’s phone in the office, a familiar notification in the App Store. We spent the rest of that day discussing Instagram Stories off and on. How dare Instagram rip off Snapchat?! Instagram is owned by Facebook so, to us, stealing ideas from independent Snapchat just seemed wrong; I couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t just use Snapchat, the home of the original story. Before I ate lunch, I posted a Snap to my story claiming my territory, promising I would never leave. 

And then, slowly, I began to see what makes Instagram stories unique: the quality. I started noticing gorgeous images and videos (along with the occasional amusing Boomerang). The drawing tools are smooth and alluring, and there are more distinct filters offered to lay over images and videos. As more of my friends and favorite influencers became acquainted with the feature, the more intrigued I became. Could I dare step back on my promise to defend Snapchat until its dying day?

I was not the only one easily suaded by the aesthetically pleasing Instagram spin-off; according to TechCrunch, Snapchat users have been using the application 20-40% less since the launch of Instagram Stories. Instagram definitely hit Snapchat where it hurts.

There’s good news here. Snapchat is not dying, with upwards of 58% of Snapchat users not being reached on any other comparable platform. Additionally, a survey conducted by WhatsGoodly in April found that 78% of millennials surveyed still preferred Snapchat over Instagram stories. And brand ambassador network Heartbeat found that out of the 100,000 13-20 year olds they surveyed, 74%  post more on Snapchat than Instagram. Yet, Instagram stories are gaining traction overall, with over 200 million daily users around the world.

The best news? You don’t have to choose just one.

Here’s why I love both:

Snapchat

 

 

  • Having been a Snapchat user since 2013, I think of Snapchat as the application on my phone that most embodies its “social” label. My friends on Snapchat don’t have to look pretty, or fancy, or be doing anything particularly interesting to post to their story or send something to me privately. 
  • Concerts, hangouts and other social events are best placed on Snapchat for privacy, which serves as another draw for the platform. Unless your account is private, anyone can see your story on Instagram. To be friends with someone on Snapchat means both parties consented to add each other. That makes the experience more intimate and explains the relaxed vibe most users find on Snapchat.  
  • I head to Snapchat if I want to know what everyone’s up to tonight. I post spur-of-the-moment videos of my friends being funny, scenic shots if the weather’s nice or not, and little victories I want to brag about. It’s where my friends are.

Instagram

 

 

  • I’ve started appreciating Instagram only really in the past year, and it’s because of newly-developed features such as the optimization for high-quality images. When Instagram updated the design of their entire interface about a year ago, every element was intentional in directing the focus of users to the images.
  • The Explore feature works to create a community feel by offering a stream of posts by accounts you don’t follow. It allows users to view similar posts to ones they’ve already liked.
  • Instagram allows you to discover new companies, stores, retailers, restaurants, and events to interact with socially. 
  • I use Instagram stories when I’m out to brunch with my friends. I post when the angles line up in my office, the sun hits just right, a tree or flower looks particularly alluring, or my favorite local shop has a cool display. It’s where I can build my social clout and community.

Unlikely as it may seem, many young people like myself still find Instagram and Snapchat stories relevant. Next time someone tells you they use both Instagram and Snapchat, know it’s a true story.

Our new Student Organizations Directory

At Hope, life outside the classroom is as vibrant as it is inside. Our Student Life office offers an array of opportunities for students to get involved in more than 50 student-led organizations.

However, for many years our student groups were provided a fairly limiting template and embedded blog for sharing information (and many were not updated regularly). When we began the process of redesigning the new Student Life website, we knew a key aspect to success would be a finding a way to showcase the many student organizations and opportunities.

Together, we chose to abandon the one-size-fits-all approach of handing every group their own site, and worked toward a comprehensive Student Organizations Directory. The new directory provides an at-a-glance view of every Student Congress funded group, with quick access to social media links. The expanding accordions allow interested users to learn more about each group with a short description, photo, and email address to contact.

We also recognize that some groups or organizations do require more than a directory listing. For those, we work closely with the group to identify specific needs and a plan for sustainability. A few examples of custom sites for student organizations include:

We’re eager to hear feedback from students and others on their experience with the new directory!

Beyond campus mail: Promote your event on social media

Does your office or department frequently host events? Public Affairs and Marketing is happy to help you share your good news and get more people in your seats. The first place to start is the Hope Calendar when hosting an even for on-campus attendees.

Gone are the days of simply sending a campus mail and calling it good. Entries on the Hope calendar can serve as your event’s webpage with all the details your on-campus attendees need to know: who, what, when, where, why, and even photos or a video if you have one. Guests can informally “RSVP” to show their friends they’re interested in your event, they can easily share the event to social media, and see on a map where you’re event is located.

Getting Started

  • When reserving your room in EMS, select “Yes” when asked if you would like this event to display on the Hope College public calendar. Include any descriptive text that should appear on the web in the “Event Details” section of the room reservation. This ensures any potential changes in time or location are updated in both EMS and the calendar. Approved events typically appear on the campus calendar in 1–2 business days. See more Calendar tips.
  • Include all the details you would normally put in your Campusmail such as a title, description, time, dates, etc. in the description box. Don’t worry if you don’t know all the details, you can always update your entry later by emailing calendar@hope.edu.
  • Use the same email address to send us a photo or graphic, otherwise we will choose a default image, which are usually not as exciting as one promoting your event.
  • Please be sure your calendar entry is always current. Email changes or new information to calendar@hope.edu.

Tweet or post to Facebook

  • Once your event is listed on the calendar and your image is in place, start tweeting about it and share it with your Facebook fans, even if it’s six months away.
  • Always include a picture or graphic with your social media and link to the calendar entry.
  • Consider creating a Facebook Event if you’re feeling savvy with Facebook. We can even help you link the Facebook event with the Hope calendar entry, or help you advertise the event on Facebook if budget allows.
  • Speaking of advertising, promoting events to specific groups of people can help ensure you have a robust audience. We can help you devise a social media advertising plan if your budget allows.

A few weeks, or months, out

  • Don’t wait until the day or week of the event; Start talking about it early!
  • Use your office or division’s social media channels to promote your event. Be sure to include an eye catching graphic or a photo, and always link to the Hope calendar entry or Facebook event.
  • Use hashtags, when appropriate, but before you choose any old hashtag, talk to Public Affairs and Marketing. We’ll help you find the right one.
  • Tag other users or offices involved in the event.
  • Ask faculty and students in your department to share to their social media.
  • If your event is for students, consider how Instagram and Snapchat can be utilized for your event. Public Affairs and Marketing often offers offices the opportunity to “take over” the Hope account for special events and academic promotion.

Day of event

  • For big events, have someone tweet and post to Facebook during the event.
  • Consider adding photos and video to Instagram if your office has an account. This is the fastest growing social channel for Hope’s followers.
  • Share photos of the event (think “behind the scenes”) or take videos with a phone.
  • Use a hashtag if you have one — or use one that’s globally popular, yet relevant to your event. Example: “#MarchMadness”

After the Event

  • Be sure to post photos, videos or a “thank you” message to your social media followers
  • Most social media accounts allow you to look at data on your social media performance. Check it out to see which posts or tweets were most and least effective.
  • Recycle your posts and tweets throughout the year to continue talking about the event. This will help keep it top of mind for next year.

 

For more information on promoting your event or news online, please connect with Elizabeth Council, digital strategist, in Public Affairs and Marketing. 

Changes to OU Campus workflow

From the very beginning of the hope.edu relaunch, I’ve had two main priorities for web content:

1. Update and maintain live web content
2. Develop and launch new websites

These priorities aren’t changing, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to balance (juggle?) them.

In short, it’s taking me far too long to move websites from draft to launch. I’ve tried to be Johnny-on-the-spot about responding to OU Campus submissions as soon as I can, which pulls me away from my other projects. Something’s gotta give — and it ain’t the workload. I need to be smarter about my daily schedule.

So I’ve blocked off my calendar for two hours every morning. From 8–10 a.m., my number one priority will be working through my workflow queue. And if I need to, I’ll spend a little extra time to make sure I get through everything. This means that any changes submitted after 10 a.m. will be addressed the following morning. We’re still aiming to publish changes within 24 hours of receiving them.

The rest of my day will be reserved for other things — meetings, site building, launching new sites, and other projects. I’m hoping this will speed up the site launch process while still allowing me to turn around submissions within a reasonably quick timeframe.

Of course, if you have a truly urgent need, let me know, and I’ll get to it as quickly as I can.

Mark your calendars! Public Affairs and Marketing Open House

Public Affairs and Marketing Open House

Monday, March 27
1 – 3 pm

​Anderson-Werkman Financial Center
Suite 110

Please stop by to visit our new office space!
​​​Enjoy a candy bar, popcorn, and more!​

So What IS Public Affairs and Marketing?

Nicolette studied in Chicago in fall 2016 as part of the Chicago Semester experience at Hope.

At the beginning of last year I received an email from the communication department about an internship opportunity with Hope’s Public Affairs and Marketing Department. I applied and ultimately got the position, but was then left thinking, ‘okay, but what is it they do?’ (Great interview preparation, I know.)

Now, a year and a half later I find myself constantly thinking, “what is it they don’t do?!” I know, I know, this totally sounds like I’m trying to kiss up to my bosses here, but it’s true!

You may have noticed that this year Hope’s Snapchat account has really gotten an upgrade. Since it’s “debut” last year there have been serious efforts made to post fun and engaging content for both prospective students and current students. And the people behind this mystery Hope College account? Yep, you guessed it, Public Affairs and Marketing. The team here are the creative minds behind Visit Day, Game Day, campus events, and even just spur of the moment snapstories. That is, unless they lend it out for a Snapchat takeover. During Snapchat take overs we give full access to sports teams or student groups to upload their own content for a fun and dynamic change of pace.

In addition to maintaining the Snapchat account, we’re also responsible for keeping up to date and relevant information on all our social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you weren’t already aware of Hope’s presence on these platforms, be sure to check us out! We’re always eager to repost photos and tweets of Hope Students engaged in various activities around campus, so who knows, you could be featured and not even know it!

But our office is about more than just social media. Public Affairs and Marketing is responsible for the new website redesign, making content more easily accessible and tailored toward students. We also partner with offices and departments across campus to keep prospective students, parents and alumni involved in Hope College happenings via magazine.hope.edu, calendar.hope.edu, in.hope.edu. We work creatively to produce exciting content like videos and photos to engage prospective students, alumni, current students, and parents alike.

The Creative Services team  is responsible for the News from Hope College magazine redesign, advertising, dozens of event posters, department and program brochures, event promotional materials for annual events like Homecoming and enough t-shirts to fill your closet (everything from Orientation to Spring Fling).

The Events and Conference office is also a part of the Public Affairs and Marketing division, which works to organize and coordinate all the campus wide events, as well as plan various conferences and arts events. This office is also responsible for managing any and all events held inside DeVos and Dimnent Chapel. So anyone with dreams of getting married in Dimnent now knows who to become friendly with.

Overwhelmed yet? Well if you can believe it, this is only a fraction of the things we do here, but I hope it’s helped to somewhat back my whole “what don’t they do?” comment from the beginning. It’s an office that really does it all, but to sum it up quickly: we’re in the business of storytelling. Whether it’s via social media, words, video or art, we want the stories of Hope to be told in the best way possible. So if you feel like you have a story to share, let us know, because we want to share it!