We’re in the age of digital disruption—a time when social media newsfeeds are more competitive than the 2018 NBA Finals. A time when we should analyze our approach to content as rigorously as we select an engagement ring, well maybe not that rigorously but you get my point. All jokes aside, for whatever reason, so many entities today focus on producing the ‘what’ that they often forget to consider the ‘how’ in content creation. When I arrived at NC State a little over a year ago to lead the social media strategy hub, one of our first team exercises was developing content buckets. We produced a variety of content that was distributed across our respective social media properties, but we didn’t have a lot of insight into the ratio that certain areas of coverage received versus others. If you’ve worked in marketing long enough, it’s likely you’ve been asked to demonstrate the amount of engagement that your content generates across social media. Those metrics can often be inflated in higher education when your athletic teams perform exceptionally well and you post about their success.

Establishing Content Buckets

However, how granular are you in assessing your content mix? Does most of your content demonstrate your institution’s intellectual capital? Are you digging in to really understand your baseline metrics around the content types? In the social media strategy hub at NC State, we are. I’ve found the exercise of diving deeper is valuable as broad social media data never truly tells the story of the effectiveness of your approach or whether or not your social media outputs are aligned with your broader goals. It also helps you determine if you need to lead the charge on articulating why it’s critical and necessary to have a social media advertising budget established for boosting posts, etc. We all know this to be true, but that’s a topic for a later date.

Remember, brands commonly exist on social media for four foundational reasons, to:

  1. Inform
  2. Educate
  3. Entertain
  4. Build relationships

Through an internal exercise at the Hub, we identified our most popular content buckets:

  • Thought Leadership/Research
  • Alumni Outcomes
  • Student Experience
  • Giving/Philanthropy
  • General NC State News
  • Spirit
  • Events

Measuring Content Buckets and Types

Once we established the buckets, we measured the proportion that each bucket occupied in our content dissemination mix and its effectiveness. It’s one thing to understand the differences in content distribution and the buckets that represent the majority of the distribution, but we also needed to understand the content types that resonated with each bucket. We’ve all heard that video resonates best, but do we have the data to back that up?

At NC State, one of our best decisions was acquiring Hootsuite Impact. We used it to conduct a three-month analysis on Facebook, that evaluated how thought leadership content compared against our spirit-based content looking at our two most popular content types—links and video.


This shows that there’s not a huge difference in the volume of posts between the two buckets during this time frame, but we see major differences in the awareness and engagement. However, NC State had a player selected as a top ten pick in the NFL Draft during the same time frame, which relates to my earlier point that athletic success can skew the data. While all of this activity is organic, our ability to evaluate the effectiveness of our thought leadership performance against spirit content deepens the understanding of the strategic approaches that are shared across social media and our ability to measure them.

But we didn’t stop there. We needed to dive deeper into our thought leadership content to evaluate the content types.


Using this data, members of the social media strategy hub can share that:

  • We have the ability to look at our own content bucket/type efforts.
  • Video performs better across thought leadership than links, and we have the data to show it.

I highly encourage this exercise because it helps with your ability to articulate the value of social media in ways that other verticals aren’t. It also helps you make the case to acquire additional video resources or software like Lumen 5. You can thank me for that gem with a follow on Twitter

The post The Importance of Measuring Social Media Content Buckets and Types originally appeared on the Campus Sonar Brain Waves blog.

Also published on Medium.