Want your small business to succeed on social media in 2019? A social media content calendar is your best friend.
Read on to find out:
- What a social media content calendar is
- Why you should be using one
- How to create a social media content calendar for your small business
What is a social media content calendar?
A social media calendar maps out in advance:
- What content you plan to share on social media
- When you’re going to share it (which days and what times)
- Where you’re going to share it (that is, on which social networks)
You can create a social media calendar in an Excel spreadsheet.
Why create a social media content calendar?
You might think planning your social media content for three, six or 12 months down the line is overkill. But there are several good reasons why it makes total sense.
1. You’ll save time
Putting a social media content calendar together is hard work. But once you’ve planned your content and scheduled it, the job’s done. You won’t have to worry about what you’re going to post on social media (at least for the next several months).
More to the point, you can work on your social media marketing in easy-to-manage batches. This is more efficient and effective than trying to come up with something (or several somethings) on the spot every day.
2. You’ll be more consistent
It’s easy to forget about social media when you’re busy. But if you don’t post consistently, you won’t get much return on investment.
Social media is about building relationships with potential customers. And you can’t build strong relationships if you post 12 times one day then disappear for six months.
With a social media content calendar, you plan and schedule everything in advance so your audience will still hear from you – even when you’re scrambling to fill orders and don’t have time to hang out on Twitter.
3. You won’t miss out on important dates
Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and other lesser-known holidays (National Potato Chip Day, anyone?) are great opportunities to engage with your followers while showing your more human side.
But how do you keep track of them all?
Simple. Mark them on your social media calendar and you’ll get a reminder when they’re up.
4. You’ll get better results
Planning aside, a social media content calendar is also a record of what you’ve already done. This is helpful because:
- Knowing what (and how often) you’ve posted something before helps you make sure you don’t bore your audience
- You can keep track of how each post performed. For instance, you might discover that your audience engages with infographics only when you post them on Fridays at 2pm. Use this information to optimize your content
How to create a social media content calendar: Our step-by-step guide
Step 1: Start with an audit
Before you even think about planning your social media content, it’s worth taking stock of what you’ve been doing. This will help you understand:
- Whether your current efforts are helping you reach your goals (you do have goals, right?)
- Where you could improve
Here’s how to go about this:
- List all your social media accounts. Which ones are doing well and which ones aren’t?
- Fill out your profiles as comprehensively as possible. Your audience should be able to find important information about your business, such as opening hours, without much effort
- Make sure your branding is consistent. Use the same colors and logo on every account. And, if possible, use the same handle, so your audience can find you more easily
- Evaluate your content. What do you usually publish? Which posts performed best? And which ones didn’t do so well?
Step 2: Pick a posting schedule
Social media marketers have been debating posting frequency for years. And they still don’t have cut-and-dried answers. Ultimately then, how often you should post largely depends on the network.
Here are posting frequencies for the four biggest social media networks as suggested by HubSpot:
A tweet has an average lifespan of 18 minutes. Which means you have to post several times a day to get noticed.
Start with five tweets spread out across the business day and work your way up
LinkedIn is slower than Twitter. Which means you can get away with posting as little as two to three times a week.
And don’t post more than once a day. According to HubSpot, this will backfire
Like LinkedIn, Facebook is relatively slow-paced. So, posting three to five times a week should be enough.
Here again, publishing more than five times a week can hurt engagement
Neil Patel argues that, unlike other social networks, consistency is more important than frequency on Instagram. In other words, it doesn’t matter how often you post. But if you start posting twice a day, you have to keep it up long term.
For this reason: “…the best posting frequency for Instagram is the posting frequency that you can consistently maintain for the rest of your natural life. Or at least until you sell your business or retire to a beach somewhere.”
Step 3: Work out your content mix
Hootsuite suggests using the rule of three as a guideline:
- One third promotes your business
- One third is relevant content from other sources, known as content curation
- One third is your own original content and interactions with your audience
Over time, you’ll get a feel for what your audience is enjoying and what isn’t doing so well. Tweak your mix so your audience gets more of what they want.
Step 4: Fill up your calendar and schedule the content
Spread your content mix evenly across the week and start scheduling. For your own content, this is straightforward. But finding good content from other sources will require some elbow grease.
Here are some tips to simplify the process:
- Put together a list of core sources — reputable websites that publish consistently good, relevant content — in an RSS reader like Feedly. Use this as your starting point
- Set up Google Alerts for relevant keywords. You’ll get a digest of content straight in your inbox
- Make Twitter Lists of people who create quality content. Be sure to credit them when you share their posts. They may even return the favor
- Use an app like Pocket or Evernote to save interesting content you come across while browsing the web
Step 5: Track your progress, rinse and repeat
Set aside some time each month to go over the data. Most social media networks have analytics tools you can refer to. And scheduling apps like Hootsuite and Buffer also have their own analytics dashboards.
Which content is doing best? And, more importantly, is it meeting your goals? Optimize your content mix and posting schedule accordingly.
Oh, and don’t forget to make time to interact with your followers in real time.
You can’t expect to succeed on social media unless you’re, well… sociable.