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Some people think social media is easy, and while aspects of it are simple if you have the proper knowledge, there is much more to it than people think. Running social media for a business is more than writing a quick caption, maybe adding an image, and posting whenever you feel like it.
To see success on social media, a content calendar is a must-have – and even that is more complex than it sounds. Let’s walk through how to create a content calendar and some things to keep in mind when doing so.
Goals & Objectives
Step one is to determine the goals and objectives you want to achieve with social media. Social media should always support your business goals. If your business goal is to grow your business within a certain market or industry, then that goal should be guiding your social media strategy.
Let’s take this example further. Say you’re a sporting goods company and your business goal is to grow awareness and consideration for your business within the volleyball industry. Your social media objective would then be to build brand awareness and to inform/educate potential customers within that industry.
Once you have your goals and objectives determined, it’s time to make some decisions around your content focus. The first decision is “what’s actually in your content?” – what products or services will you discuss on social media? This might seem to have an obvious answer, but, if we go back to our volleyball example, highlighting every single product or service related to volleyball might be overwhelming to your audience and could very well be detrimental to the overall message you’re trying to convey.
The next question to ask is “how long will you be focusing on this topic?” If you have strong brand awareness, your focus windows could be shorter, but if you have low brand awareness, a longer focus window is better. Of course, the window duration will differ inn each scenario, but we recommend at least a month, with 3 months being the sweet spot. You could go longer, but you also don’t want to completely ignore other aspects of your business.
Finally, ask yourself how much content you’ll put out during that focus window. Will you be posting once a week, twice a week, every day? The answer will depend largely on the industry and your audience, as well as other factors. There is no magic equation to answer this question, but we recommend once a week as a starting point. The main thing to keep in mind is that you want to post enough to stay in front of your audience, but you don’t want to annoy them by posting too much either.
Posting frequency can also be fluid. If you decide on posting twice a week, but you’re struggling to produce quality, relevant content, then go to once a week. Relevancy is key – don’t just put out any and every piece of content just to have content out there.
The next thing to determine is what types of content you’ll be sharing. Blogs, company culture posts, behind-the-scenes shots, industry and thought leadership content? How much will be video vs an image vs plain text, etc.? This again will depend on the industry and your audience.
Something to consider here is the Social Media Rule of Thirds: one-third of the content directly promotes your business, one-third is industry and thought-leadership content, and one-third of the content is personal interactions.
Now we’re finally on to posting! Pretty simple, right? We wish! Here is where you determine what days of the week you’ll post, at what times, and on what platforms. Not every day is a good day to post and reach your audience, and neither is any time, and not all content is good for all social media platforms. This will be a big learning curve, as this is what varies the most. You will have to put a lot of effort into learning your audience and analyzing past content to find the answers to these questions.
Even once you have the answers to these questions, you can’t simply set it and forget it. If you decide to post every Thursday at 4PM, you will have to adjust that come Thanksgiving. Thursday at 4PM on Thanksgiving is bound to be a poor-performing post, so make sure you keep holidays in mind.
Another increasingly frequent issue is current news and events. The last thing you want to do is be the company that is posting about their volleyball kneepads in the middle of a tragedy that is taking over all news coverage.
Even though forgetting to cancel a scheduled post during a time like that is a clear mistake, it would still come across as insensitive in the court of public opinion. As difficult as it may be, when big events like that happen, remembering to check if something is scheduled to post is crucial.
The same can be said of big events that you know are coming – Election Day or Inauguration Day, for example. It’s best to avoid posting on days that could be controversial, sad, etc.
Once you’ve made your content calendar and your content has all gone out, make sure you take the time to evaluate and analyze all the difference aspects that we just discussed. This is the stage that will help you most in determining how often to post, on what days, and at what times. You will also need to evaluate the types of content.
If personal interaction content did well, consider adding more of it to your content mix. If a certain type of content did poorly, include less of it. If you posted 3 times a week and saw engagements dropped with each post, that could be a sign to post less frequently.
Also take a look at your engagements. Did they have a generally positive sentiment or a negative one? Did you see any spikes in your website traffic or your social following? If so, can those be tied to any posts? Evaluate and adjust your next content calendar accordingly.
Don’t get so hung up on your content calendar that when your content goes out you forget about your audience. After all, your audience informs almost all of your decisions on the calendar. Make sure you are engaging back with your audience. If someone comments on your post, like their comment and respond. If someone shares your post, like their share and leave a comment.
Not only is this type of engagement back with your audience is crucial to building credibility with your audience – it also helps your content perform better in the algorithms these platforms use to decide when, where, and how much to show your content. This becomes even more important if your posts are organic and you’re not putting any money behind them.
Also, consider using a social media management tool that can recommend better post dates and times and help you manage all of your social profiles. Tools like these take some of the guess work out and make the whole process easier.
Better yet, consider partnering with a marketing agency that can help you with this process. At MACLYN, we work with businesses to create a social media plan that best fits your needs—from managing your profiles to drafting the calendar and the content itself.
Written by: Kira Ryan, Strategic Planner