Using a Content Calendar for Your Social Media

So, your organization’s social media presence is lacking.

Maybe it doesn’t have a clear direction or voice. Maybe it isn’t updated enough. Maybe it has collapsed after the person in charge of it left the company. Maybe you ran afoul of some sort of ancient curse. The point is, the list of possible problems is lengthy.

So you decided to build yourself a brand new social media strategy. With blackjack! And hookers!

columbus social media marketingThe Difficult Work of Creating a Strategy

You did everything you were supposed to do. You set measurable and achievable goals. You did extensive competitor analysis and social listening. You decided which metrics you needed to track. You created audience profiles. You determined which platforms are most appropriate for your potential customers so you’d know which to emphasize and which to not waste time on.

(There’s much, much more to devising a social media strategy, or a digital marketing strategy in general, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about today – or this post would never end.)

Now all you have to do is come up with the actual posts. And that’s the easy part, right? You did all the hard work of strategizing, now you just need text and visual elements for every platform, sometimes multiple times per day, until the heat death of the universe.

Wait. That doesn’t sound easy.

The Also-Difficult Work of Crafting Posts

OK, fair enough. It isn’t easy. But it can be made appreciably easier if you create a content calendar. That means figuring out what you’re going to post, when you’re going to post it and everything you need to post it. And yes, it takes time to set up, but it pays off in time saved down the line. Time spent up-front saves more time later. It’s worth it.

You can use a specific app or piece of software for this, or you can just put it all in a big Google Sheet – but whatever you do, make sure everyone involved knows how it works.

The Benefits of Scheduling Social Posts

“I’ll post whenever I have a free minute today” seems a viable enough strategy – until you start noticing how often you seem to post everything at 4:45 p.m. A better idea is to get them on a schedule.

Figure out which times of day are the best for each platform, and aim to get the posts up then. You might also figure out which times of day are most fruitful for your audience; people interested in investing opportunities don’t keep the same schedule as people interested in physical therapy. Do what you can to spread them out as well so you don’t end up with posts clumped too closely together. Putting posts too close together can harm your organic reach.

You can schedule your boosts and promoted posts in advance, too.

Always on Time

It may be worthwhile to use a social media scheduling medium such as Hootsuite to guarantee posts go up when you want them to go up, no matter what else might be going on at that exact time. Just be wary of relying too heavily on automation. If you had to add an unexpected post, consider postponing the scheduled ones. And be ready to pause your posting at a moment’s notice should some major event start sucking up all the oxygen in the room – you don’t want to put up something lighthearted and irreverent smack in the middle of a natural disaster or major tragedy.

Don’t Forget to Check in Often

Automation is great and can take a lot of stress off your shoulders. However, social media is just that – social. Log into your accounts to interact with those who interact with you. Give other industry partners a like. Respond to breaking news in real time. Give shout-outs to folks doing great things. You may have your schedule in place, but that doesn’t mean you have to shut out impromptu posting!

social media management columbus ohioWherefore Art Thou, Ratio?

If you don’t want all of your posts to look the same – and, just to confirm here, you don’t – you’ll need to establish a good content ratio. Needless to say, that’s much easier to do when you know exactly what you’ll be posting.

There are some good suggestions for starter ratios out there:

  • 80% entertainment, 20% self-promotion
  • 33% industry idea sharing, 33% personal interactions/replies/retweets, 33% self-promotion, 1% “freeze” puns from Batman & Robin (optional)

If you have a much clearer idea of what your audience wants – whether that happens now, or months down the line when you’ve had a chance to study your results – you can come up with a custom ratio that makes sense for you.

Make a Place for All Your Content (Yes, All of it)

You can’t really write a week’s – or even a month’s – worth of posts ahead of time, can you?

Hell yes, you can! You’ll have to leave a few as “TBD” if you’re going to be reposting news stories or if there’s information you don’t yet have, but you absolutely can write 90% of your posts at the beginning of the month.

I know, I know, that sounds like a pain on its surface. But it has its upsides. For one thing, it makes the work go more quickly, since you’re not having to switch back into your social media frame of mind every time you have to post something. It also makes for an easier quality control process – whether you have a system of approval for social posts, or whether you just want someone proofing your work (and trust me, the less need you think you have for a proofreader, the more need you actually have).

More Than Words

And it’s not just text that goes into the content repository. That’s also where you should store your photos, videos and any other visual elements. That way, when it comes time to post them, you don’t need to hunt for them.

Plus, having all the post content in an easily accessible area means others can post if you fall into a volcano or something. It could happen!

It’s also good to have a spot to store the elements that will eventually become your posts. Valuable keywords, important hashtags, other accounts to keep an eye on, ideas that have yet to be formed into coherent plans – everything’s stored in a central, easily-accessible location.

Shelter from the Brainstorm

This is also helpful for figuring out what sorts of things can make regular content. Are there certain accomplishments you’ll always want to highlight? Make a note, and you can incorporate them whenever you have them. Special milestones for your organization, such as staff birthdays and hire anniversaries? Put those in there, too, and you can refer to them later. Lesser-known holidays you’re not likely to be reminded of otherwise? Hey, somebody’s got to keep track of National Do A Grouch a Favor Day; it might as well be you.

This can also be a place for important new information. Found an article, newsletter, webinar about social media best practices? You know where to store it.

digital marketing columbusBringing Everyone on Board

Unless one person is designated the arbiter of all that can and cannot be on your social media, you’re going to need others on the team to cooperate. And no matter how much you appreciate your co-workers, that can be tricky.

Work that into the schedule. If you need someone to take a picture, shoot and edit a video, design an image, write a blog post, edit your posts, that person needs to know in advance. Make that part of your agenda. That way, you won’t find yourself begging someone for help the day a post is supposed to go up, while that person is already juggling 10 other things.

Some Extra “Stuff” To Remember Along the Way

Even the most well-thought-out strategy and the most thorough content calendar has areas that are easy to miss. Some things to keep in the back of your mind as you boldly go forth:

  • Don’t let your social profiles lie fallow as your posting strategy moves forward. Fill out all the fields you can, make sure your logo and other visuals are consistent from platform to platform, and see to it that the voice matches the voice of your posts.
  • Look after your visual elements. Take care to see that they look good. A poor-quality image or an awkward video can do more harm than good.
  • Keep your voice and tone consistent across platforms. Even if you have different people posting to different platforms, you can establish some basic principles.
  • Allow time for things that aren’t on the schedule. You can’t predict when you’ll have interactions on your post, but you need to be responsive. And you always need to have flexibility for when someone decides a specific thing needs to be promoted now now now now now.

Ask Someone Who Knows

Unless you have someone on your team whose sole duty, 40 hours a week, is maintaining your social media presence, just coming up with a plan of action – to say nothing of executing it – can be a major time commitment. If you’re unsure of the best path forward, we know some folks who can help, or even manage your social media for you. Give us a shout!

 

Let’s Talk Today

Garth Bishop is a content writer and success plan manager at ForeFront Web. He has a much more cheerful disposition than this photo would suggest.