The biggest mistake companies make with their social media is failing to plan – they don’t have a consistent schedule for what and when to post. Consistent posts are the number one way to grow your followers and increase engagement. It creates trust between you and your audience. We know you’ve got seemingly bigger fish to fry as a business owner than worry about what you’ll post on your company’s Facebook page, but you also know how crucial social media is to modern companies. In order to drive traffic and brand awareness, you have to make sure your social pages are optimized for engagement and conversion. This means you have consistent, engaging, and recent posts. Don’t get stuck pushing out less than stellar content because you’re panicking and haven’t posted in two weeks. Plan ahead using our strategy below to create a content calendar and never miss a post again.
1. Know your intent
The first step to a successful social media strategy starts with your objective. You have objectives for your business, you have objectives for your personal life, why would you not have them for your social media plan? If you don’t know why you’re on social media in the first place, you won’t get much out of it. Set a specific goal, which could be different for each platform.
Is your Instagram intent to drive brand awareness or to position yourself as a thought leader with your content strategy? Every brand’s objective is different – take outspoken entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, for instance. He’s all over Snapchat and Instagram stories with the objective of grabbing your attention – he wants to be sure he stays top of mind and in your face. Your brand’s objective may be completely different. You may be looking to drive product sales on Instagram, or to generate leads on Facebook in order to build up your email list. Take some time to truly think about what you want from your accounts and you’ll have a stronger platform on which to build your content.
2. Who is your audience?
No different from the entrepreneur with a startup, you have to define your target audience. Know who you are trying to reach. Your message should be targeted to your ideal customer. You can use online tools to find demographic info on your followers (take a look at Klear for all platforms or Followerwonk for Twitter). If you don’t have a strong follower base yet, analyze the followers of your competitors. Look at their hobbies, their likes and dislikes, and their values. What do they want to see from you? Take a look through your past posts (or those of your competitors) and look for trends. Which posts had your highest engagement rates? Can you identify why? Post more of that.
3. Decide on how often to post
The next step is deciding how often you’ll post content. This differs depending on which platform you’re using. For example, Twitter feeds move much quicker than those of Facebook or Linkedin, and therefore you could tweet 5 times a day. Posting 5 times a day on Facebook is a good way to annoy and lose your followers.
Constant Contact has created an awesome cheat sheet for posting frequencies on most platforms. The infographic below doesn’t include Instagram, but typically once or twice a day (no more than 5 days a week) works well for most brands.
Source: Azure Collier, “What and How Often Should You Post on Social Media? Check out the full article here.
Also make sure that you are staying on message. Don’t “spam” out inappropriate or unrelated content just because you are scheduled to post something today. Stay consistent with your brand’s voice so you can attract quality followers that share the same values as your brand.
4. Humanize your brand
Social media is about being human, so humanize your brand. Heard of the 80/20 rule? It states that 80% of your content should aim to entertain, educate, or humor your audience, with no more than 20% being self-promotional. Frankly put, stop annoying your followers with constant product photos and links – avoid the hard sell on social and instead focus on engagement, building relationships, and connecting to build brand loyalty and awareness (see our tips on social selling here). You want to promote lifestyle posts, and posts that cater to your customers’ interests, more than you post about your products and company. If all you’re doing is posting self-promotional or product-related posts, your followers have no opportunity to engage with you and you’re simply shouting at them.
People want to see who you are and engage with people, not logos.
Show the faces and stories behind your logo, be honest, and be open. Social media is also one of the best PR tools a company could have in a time of crisis. If you screw up, and you’ve taken the time already to build up a legitimate and quality following, you can use social media to acknowledge your mistakes and move on.
5. Start scheduling
Just like with your daily or weekly calendar, fill in the priorities first. You’ve seen the philosophical depiction of the golf balls in the mason jar, right? Be enlightened, then schedule your golf balls.
A college professor uses an empty jar, golf balls, pebbles, sand and beer to share some simple truths about how to live a happier life…
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Your priorities might include upcoming promotional items, new product releases, or upcoming events. Have your team create the content and put these on your content calendar first.
From here, you can fill in the gaps with your other 80%, lifestyle-focused, content. One of the best ways to ensure that you’re following the 80/20 rule is to set certain days for specific themes or posts according the your brand’s voice. This not only makes it easier for you to come up with what content you’ll need regularly, but it creates consistency for your audience.
For example, every Monday, post a motivational quote or photo. This can be a great opportunity to truly show your brand’s voice, get creative, and even use humor (a great tactic, by the way, to humanize your brand). Check out Noir Agency’s hilarious use of Motivational Monday below:
You could also post an industry-related tip every Tuesday (extra points for connecting it to a blog post on your website), Thursday Throwbacks, or celebrate social media holidays, like National Hat Day.
6. Finding and creating content
Option 1: Create your own stuff
Of course the first option for sourcing content is to create it yourself. Photos of work you’ve done, graphics you create, or photos from the office or company outings are all ideas for original content. But be sure you have a clear theme for your Instagram feed first that matches your brand. Do you use bright colors and upbeat lighting in all your photos? Do you post a branded graphic every 3rd post so that it creates a cool pattern throughout your feed – like graphic designer WhiteFox Studios below?
By creating a theme, you strengthen your brand awareness and give people a reason to follow you. Great content is necessary to keep people engaged, but if your content doesn’t look good, why would anyone want to come back?
Option 2: Share someone else’s stuff
Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to come up with original photos and graphics to fill your content calendar. You can also use tools to curate relevant content that relates to your brand and appeals to your audience. Later, the scheduling tool, has a tool where you can search for content from other users. This is also a great way to connect with more people – find influencers within your industry that have great content that would be of value to your audience, and share it (ask first before you share!)
Once your calendar is set, you can fill in the gaps in between scheduled posts by posting manually, responding to messages and comments, and engaging in conversations with your followers.
If you need more help creating a strategy or even managing and posting to your social accounts, check out how we get social at Upperhand Creative!