Social Media Calendar
Posted by Charlie Recksieck
If You Don't Have One, Let's Make You One Now
If you're been involved in social media or are just getting started, you will have much greater success in getting attention AND providing relevant info/content for others if you have a strategy for your posts. The act of establishing a social media strategy and plan will really keep you on track and see much better results.
While this might sound like it's going to be time-consuming, our experience is that It's just the opposite. By having a plan and "pre-programming" your posts, you can lay out two weeks worth of smart and successful social content in minutes and then forget about it, instead of having to obsess and come back to it constantly over the two weeks.
What Is A Social Media Calendar?
Let's use Loomly Blog's definition: A "social media calendar is a tool used to store and schedule social media posts."
To put it another way, it's a list or calendar view of what you're going to post. That could be a shared Google doc, a spreadsheet or a social-media-management app like Hootsuite.
Within your social calendar it's likely that you may have different types of posts. Categories could be things like photos, shoutouts/spotlights on clients, inspirational quotes, news items, curating others' contents, promotion of your upcoming events/offers, etc.
Who's Doing Your Postings?
If one person is handling all of the social media posting, then that's certainly easy and no problem. If there are several of you collaborating on the content, or if one person does the posting but several of you put ideas or content into your social media calendar - then you just need to make sure everybody has access to the location of your media calendar. Also easy.
Hopefully you can enlist several folks in your operation to contribute content. Sales team could come up with a targeted message they'd like to hit. Account managers might write a message spotlighting a recent client success. HR could give a positive pat-on-the-back to a fellow employee. The CEO could chime in with a personal message.
Pick Your Platforms
What social media platforms are you on? Are these right for you? B2C products do great on Instagram whereas B2B services are appropriate on LinkedIn. Any target audience over 30 fares well on Facebook.
Something to keep in mind that each platform has some expected protocols for how often you post. Twitter is absolutely fine to post 1-3x per day; people usually follow too many people to see all tweets, so it's fine to repost the same message a couple times (although it's great to change up your wording). Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. you should be more like 2-4x per week.
Scheduling in advance is THE KEY to making this process easy. If you can get into habits of pre-scheduling posts, then you can improve your online presence while not having somebody there (or yourself) dump 10 inconsistent hours per week into messaging.
For years Hootsuite's free version was incredible - now you need the paid version to pre-set more than 5 posts; the professional version is still terrific and reasonably priced. Other apps in the industry are all solid: Soci, Zoho, Sprout Social and Sendible, for starters.
Sample Calendars & Post Types
We like to define post types for our social media (and for our clients whom we have consulted on their social media calendar). This gives a good variety of content. Always remember that social media isn't the time to brag, it's the time to give your audience information that they can use.
Below are example of different types of calendars - online app dashboard, local spreadsheet and group file in Google Docs.
Here's a snapshot of our Hootsuite dashboard for a week:
This is for our Plannedscape account. We try to mix up our messages with these self-defined types:
Announce our weekly blog post (and re-post "In Case You Missed It" on Twitter)
Describe a novel project we are involved with, or give some love to a current client
3-5 links to relevant articles per week; 1 geared towards more technical/programming, 2 towards more general tech, 1 about more generic practices, 1 that could be considered a tip or advice. All should have a one-sentence comment/take from us so we're additive instead of just posting a link or retweeting.
The Ople Group
An immigration law firm client of ours. One lawyer handles the posting so this social media calendar is just an Excel spreadsheet
You can make out the classes of post types we have created for them.
Gigi’s Playhouse is a Down's syndrome resource/achievement center here whom we are heavily involved with. We are just getting started with their social media, so no screen capture.
Nevertheless, they have multiple people contributing to posts - many with photos from weekly classes (which look terrific on Instagram), announcement for parents about upcoming class scheduling, events, calls for volunteers, client and volunteer spotlights, acknowledgements of helpful local businesses, links to Downs syndrome news items, fundraising appeals, etc.
By the way, they are a terrific organization. We really recommend passing the word on to any families with a member with Downs syndrome, encouraging gift or financial giving, and most of all: participation. I can tell you from personal experience that it might at first seem difficult, a chore or even a downer to volunteer and spend time with the children and adults there but it's just the opposite. You will have fun and laughter with them starting on Day 1.
Make Sure The Posts Grow Your Audience & Site Traffic
Our takeaway is that your social media is really serving two purposes: 1) Attract new potential clients to you by 2) Share not self-aggrandizing but actually useful and entertaining posts (for people in your target audience).
Keep your eyes on your followings size. They don't have to be spectacularly huge - you'd rather have 500 followers who mostly read all of your posts than a disinterested 10,000-person following. Just make sure that your audience size does show some growth over time, even if just modest increases.
Make sure your messages have hashtags in them, to allow your posts to pop up in front of new eyes who are actively interested in what you're talking about.
Lastly, make sure you are tracking visits on your website (aka Google Analytics). You'll be able to see what posts work and what don't, what the level of engagement you're creating with your posts, etc.
As for traffic, we’d like to illustrate just how much larger your reach is when you follow a more disciplined social media plan. We have had the law firm mentioned above using a social calendar for one month now. The blue results here are the most recent month while the orange was the month prior to us putting this all into place:
You don’t need a Google Analytics certification to see that traffic has gone up across the board and exploded in social, organic search has even ticked up, bounce rates are down, and engagement time is also way up overall since we’ve been working with them on this. All in a month where they did not even run any paid search. It’s an extreme example, but that’s the idea.
Good luck. Should you want help with a social media calendar template or incredibly quick consultation, we would love to help you get started. We'd be happy to offer our first two cents of advice for free and get to know your business (and you get to know ours).