The other day, I was asked by a client about what I thought about their current email newsletter and whether they should convert it to a blog. They send about twice a year and obviously, don’t have a huge response. Nor do they have a lot of subscribers, about 500 or so. They are one of several schools I’ve worked with and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts that I shared with them.
As far as best communication goes, really, I think a blog is something that you could be using daily or weekly to talk about anything and everything you do. I guess my real question is what’s your end goal? If you want to really drive viewers and build your list, then being more aggressive with blogging and Facebooking and email newsletters is the way to go. If you’re happy with the 500-600 subscribers because that’s your core audience, then sticking with a simple newsletter will probably work just fine (I would encourage you to send them more often, though). I also think that your subscribers are committed to you (for the most part) so if you switch to a blog and feedburner subscriptions, I expect most of them will follow you that way. I think you’ll also start communicating with them more and that’s a good thing, especially if you’re looking to grow with more students and/or more funding.
I think for you, the best package would be creating a blog, adding subscriptions to it, then populating the posts to twitter and a facebook account. Using your email newsletter to promote the blog and feedburner subscriptions and then blog weekly about what’s going on. I think readers like to see shorter, yet more often (than 2x/year) posts about what’s going on. This way you could really get more people involved in more of the day to day happenings and successes of the school. And I don’t think you’d need to take too long to write each post as they wouldn’t need to be novels.
Email newsletters are still good, but I believe they are more effective when you have a specific purpose like selling products or specific knowledge or information. The category of information from you all is probably more blog-like where people will read and browse because it’s interesting life information.
The only drawback is that the tracking of social media is less distinct than email newsletters. But, via feedburner stats and google analytics, we can see a pretty good snapshot of how things are performing.
Considering they’re a small school with out a ton of resources, the goal is to put something fairly simple together that they’ll use more often and from which they’ll get some decent traction. Obviously, the big question is their goals for traffic and exposure and how much Social Media they can commit to, so the goal is to ease into this and have them grow it as resources allow by using a few key channels to easily and frequently get their word out.