Every small business understands the importance today of having a social media presence. If they are not “marketing in the year they are in”, they will most definitely fall behind others in their particular niche or brand. Now that you understand how important a content strategy plan is, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. Creating and publishing great content to meet those goals can be a lot of work. My goal this week is to help you get organized and figure out a schedule that works for your business. When you have a content calendar that you feel you can commit to, the entire process feels a lot less overwhelming.
What is a social media content calendar?
Your social media content calendar should be some type of written record that organizes the way you curate and create content. It can also help develop your editorial strategy. The goal of all content marketing is to produce the highest-quality, best written, and highest-performing content pieces within your power. Your calendar will cut extra time out of your content marketing strategy, allowing you more time to create the highest quality possible with your resources.
A few advantages of a content calendar are:
- It helps you maintain a consistent cadence
- You can map time-sensitive content ahead of time
- You’ll take your social marketing out of a silo
- It enforces the “411 Rule” or whichever ratio you choose
Determining YOUR RATIO
Ratio when you are talking about social media pertains to what percentage of different types of social media you plan to post. Information about ratios and percentages are as varied as the number of niches that are out there. What I did was look at several social platforms, stats for those platforms, looked at ratio theories, worked out what I wanted to use and then I watched and tested. I soon learned that Twitter and LinkedIn folks loved information about my blogs. Information about my free classes… not so much. Facebook gave me some good responses on the blog depending on the content. Every time I thought I would cut down on the number of posts about my free classes, someone would share that they had shared it with a friend or that they had been helped by the class. So just like I stated in last week’s blog, I had to adjust, revise and change. I changed my schedule to meet what my audience liked.
To give you a starting point, I will share some of the “rules” and “ratios” I looked at and used:
Popularized by Andrew Davis of Tippingpoint Labs and Joe Pulizzi of Marketing Institute looks like this:
- 4 pieces of relevant, original content from others
- 1 re-tweet for every 1 self-serving update
- 30 percent owned
- 60 percent curated
- 10 percent promotional
Rule of thirds
The rule of thirds is one of the most popular, this is Via a Hootsuite blog post by Sam Milbrath:
- 1/3 updates are about you and your content
- 1/3 updates are for sharing content from others and surfacing ideas
- 1/3 of your updates are based on personal interactions that build your brand
Thinking about the types of updates:
The above ratios deal with the content itself. But what about the post type? Buffer’s founder Joel came up with a neat balance of the types of updates that he shares to Twitter—links, quotes, retweets, images, and plain text updates. His system works like this:
- Start with the basic five types of updates we all post: Links, images, quotes, re-shares, plain-text updates
- Choose a “staple” update, a single type that will make up the majority of your shares
- Create a 4:1 ratio of sharing: for every four “staple” updates, publish one different type for variety
Once you have the general idea of which plan you want to follow. I cannot emphasize enough that your schedule needs to be unique and based on your specific audience. For example, one social media leader posts on twitter every 23 minutes, another every 96 minutes. I personally aim for once an hour between 10 am and 1 am. BUT, (and please note the emphasis) you need to post when your audience is online and when they are engaging.
- Twitter: at least 5x a day. (If you can swing 20 you will do much better)
- Facebook up to 2x a day
- LinkedIn 1x a day
- Google+ up to 2x a day
- Pinterest up to 2x a day
- Instagram 1.5 x a day
Be sure to plan ahead for any special event in the future. Doing this allows you to develop that content and strategy for these moments ahead of time.
Here are a few to consider:
- New product releases
- Training classes
- Annual events
- Major Cultural events: super bowl, Oscar
- Recurring events- end of year-seasonal strategies
Types of Content plans: daily, weekly, monthly and yearly
Work one day ahead
- What events are planned for tomorrow?
- How much content do you need to plan and schedule?
- How does your sharing ratio fit with a day’s worth of content?
With a daily plan, you can schedule the bulk of your content the day before.
If you share say six times to Twitter, you can schedule the six posts. If you are using the 4-1-1 method of sharing, make four of your six updates be content from others with a single post each for soft promotion (say a blog post of yours) and a hard promotion (with a CTA or call to action for your product)
Work one week ahead:
- What events for this week?
- Which new blog posts are scheduled to publish?
- How much new content do you need to find ahead of time?
- Which images could you create in advance?
Choose a day of the week to plan everything out for the following seven days
Planning a week ahead, you can fill in many of the slots in your schedule that will hold posts from your archives- re-shared content that you may have posted before. New content can join the schedule as the week progresses
Look a month ahead:
- What events and launches are planned for this month?
- What are your goals and plans for content this month?
- Which content can you schedule in advance, and what will you need to reserve space for?
- What experiments might you be running?
A month ahead, you may still be able to fill some of your slots with content from your archives. What I do is leave times open and mark my google calendar to ensure I remember to post my new blog on the specific times and days per my schedule.
Your monthly calendar can include your sharing ratio and content types You can plan your social media experiments and test and you can of course plan product launches and holiday postings accordingly.
Look a full year ahead:
- What events and launches are planned for the year?
- What ratio will you start out with?
- What will be your daily frequency?
- Which tent pole content do you hope to publish?
Jot down the major events happening over the next 12 months and integrate that into a social media plan with a blog editorial calendar. Find the sharing ratio that seems right for you and your audience. It is hard to plan for even 3 months ahead with all the constant changes taking place, but a general outline could be extremely helpful for keeping on track as well as help with some of your goal planning.
It could help to just create a calendar that is a yearly calendar and input those goals for your actual business, events, holidays, cultural events and so on into that calendar to give you a better overall view of things. I currently have not done that, but intend to create the calendar for a year when I set my goals for the New Year. At that time, I plan to put in the general types of blog content, and add resources to the calendar as it appears. For example, I try to write about Facebook and Twitter each once a month as a minimum. I could put that on my yearly calendar and if there is a launch or holiday coming near those blog dates, I can try to incorporate it into the blog, making it and my images more relevant.
Your content calendar should contain all of the necessary information from the content marketing strategy that you developed last week. Some like to organize a calendar by using a separate sheet for each month with activities further broken down by month and day. Some like to have all social media platforms on one page, using icons to represent each network next to the title of the post.
A great example of this is from Hootsuite:
Some tools to help you
Free template here from HubSpot which includes step by step directions.
Another from HubSpot using excel sheets
HootSuite Templates provides you with several templates for social media, including one to work on your actual strategy as well as an audit of your social media strategy.
Manifesto provides a (2014) template and steps to implement.
Google Sheets: I created a sheet for each social media platform that I use (based on my target audience). I then looked at analytics for each platform- looking first at times. I input times into my sheets and then looked at analytics again as to responses to different types of posts. I then filled in the blanks as to what type of post I was going to do or schedule. After 30 days, I tweaked my frequency and types of posts and continue to do so ever 3-4 weeks.
What methods are you using for your social media planning?
It is my prayer that some of these tips and strategies have been helpful. For me, it has transformed the way I do things. I am currently scheduling my Facebook posts one month in advance and Twitter weekly in advance and I have been learning constantly. My LinkedIn is scheduled on my Google calendar to remind me to post; first thing in the morning. If you have any tips, questions or comments, please do so. I would appreciate it.