We all know that promoting our businesses on social media is an important part of reaching and expanding our customer base, but great intentions can slide away from us in the absence of a strategic approach! Creating a social media calendar is a sure-fire way to make sure that your online marketing efforts are truly effective. Your social media calendar will allow you to:
- set and maintain the pace of your social media presence
- stay on track with prompts to get you motivated
- plan a balanced range of posts and content
- keep your strategy consistent all year round
- structure your marketing around specific goals
- delegate to your team for the best results
What Is A Social Media Calendar?
Remembering to post on our business accounts seems to be a bit like Marmite – some people love to do it, and some people hate it! If you fall into the first camp, a social media calendar will allow you to roll out the logistics and fire up your online marketing efforts. If you fall into the second, that calendar will give you perfectly timed kicks in the butt to get your content out, enabling you to promote and grow your business. Once you get into the habit of posting, it will become easier. The more you use your imagination to find entertaining ways to make your brand relevant to readers, the more your creative juices will flow, and your social media calendar will be there to keep you on track, every step of the way.
The idea with a social media calendar is to organise how often you intend to post on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and plan your content well in advance: keeping your posts fresh and diverse; planning collaborations with others; scheduling when content needs to be written; and taking various business goals into account such as seasonal sales, promotions and events.
How Often Should You Post?
The frequency of your posts will likely depend a little on the size of your business, but there is some handy research out there to give you some pointers. Some online social media calendars will allow you to bulk upload and schedule tweets, as well as re-queue content so that it comes back around once in a while.
Research from HubSpot found that an optimum Facebook game plan for businesses with less than 10,000 followers was somewhere between 3 posts a week and 1 post a day, but that more than that resulted in a reduction in clicks. Top performing brands on Instagram post an average of 1.5 times a day, while on the incredibly fast paced platform of Twitter, many businesses post upward of 30 posts a day! This may be a little unattainable for the average small business owner, so a more modest ball-park guide would be to post a few times a day, at well spread intervals. Social media platforms use algorithms and will make your better received tweets more visible, so keep track of what works, and get involved in conversations to increase your visibility.
Taking all of that on board, keep in mind that any regular social media presence is better than none at all, so perhaps start with weekly, or bi-weekly if that works for you. Once you get into the swing of things you can begin to ramp it up.
What To Schedule In Your Calendar
Because the frequency of your posts on different platforms will likely vary, it's crucial to get that planned out and dialled into your calendar as a starting point. Once that bare-bones structure is in place, you can start filling it out. Put business milestones such as sales, holidays and events into the calendar and then plan how to create a buzz around each one through your social media posts in the run up, and during. For example, you can build some hype in the run up to summer with some relevant posts and link to your swimwear section to draw in pre-holiday shoppers.
Some of your posts will stand alone, with an image, text and ideally a link to your website, while others will require the production of high quality content. If you intend to roll out a weekly blog or post regular articles on your website, schedule time to get it written into your calendar. Shared calendars will allow you to delegate, and share notes on blog briefs, image ideas and concepts. Keep in mind that different social media platforms require differently formatted images, and sourcing and preparing these takes time. First impressions are what it's all about and planning ahead can make all the difference!
What Should You Be Posting?
The fantastic thing about social media content, as opposed to conventional advertising, is that you can create something that builds layers of your story, for people to engage in. Try to make each thing you post either entertaining, playful or educational, or a combination of all three. By planning with a calendar, you can keep your posts diverse, holding the interest of your readers. Taking the time to map your post topics and content into the future is an efficient way of staying on point, but it is also important to retain a little wiggle room for spontaneous posts too!
A good example of a well prepared and a well structured facebook account is the Teapot Creative one. Lots of categories giving readers layers of information and some fun things thrown in for good measure! It shows the personality behind the business and helps the reader feel they know the individuals within the business before they have even met. Top tips and handy information ensure readers gain free help to keep them engaged.
Using a mix of your own content and relevant content from other sources will provide the perfect balance. It may seem counter-intuitive to share an article from elsewhere on the web, because it won't drive traffic directly to your site, but sharing an article from another source that already has a strong response can help you to entice those algorithms to make your business more visible.
Check out what your competition is doing and be adaptable. Over time, you will get a sense of which social media strategies get the most clicks, likes and shares. Your customer base is unique: the better you know them, the more effectively you can expand the reach of your posts, and ultimately draw customers to buy your products or services.
What Tools Can You Use?
There are tons of tools and online calendars designed for exactly this purpose, with costs ranging from totally free to super expensive plans that are suited to large businesses managing multiple profiles across many platforms. You can of course take a more old-school route, using spreadsheet software or an actual, physical paper calendar if you so wish!
The advantage of using an online tool is that if you have a team of other people to coordinate, you can easily share your social media calendar and keep everyone in the loop. Google Calendar is a great place to start if you want to keep things really simple. Asana is a fun, and slightly more sophisticated online platform if you are working with a team and want to be able to schedule tasks with notes and deadlines to work towards.
If you really want to get high-tech about it, you can opt for an automated online calendar. You still need to produce timely content, but these tools will automatically generate posts and do the queuing and scheduling for you. There are many options out there, including: MeetEdgar, which allows you to create a content library and then does the legwork of posting in a timely fashion. Hootsuite, which is a one-stop shop for automatically generated posts, analytics and team management. Then there is Missinglettr, which actually scans your website for blog posts, looking for quotes, content and imagery, then drips magically constructed content on your behalf, without you lifting a finger!
Whatever vehicle you choose to use, developing a solid strategy when it comes to your social media marketing will work wonders when it comes to generating leads. It also means that all of the investments you make in creating blogs or articles, and the research you put into staying relevant to your customers, will ultimately pay off!