You know that social media is crucial to growing your business online. With so much conflicting information and “get results quick” schemes bombarding you on the daily, how do you decide what to post and when?
And once you figure out what you’re posting, how do you stay on top of the seemingly endless content creation, posting, and interaction?
Creating a social media calendar for your business is frustrating and overwhelming, but with some thoughtful planning and a block of time, it’s possible to schedule a month’s worth of successful social media content in just one afternoon.
I’m giving you the exact step-by-step plan I use to tackle the social media beast below. Let’s get started!
How I schedule a month’s worth of social media posts in one weekend
Before we get started, I want to emphasize that social media marketing, just like any other type of marketing, doesn’t work unless you have a clear goal in mind. It’s easy to share and repost content that might loosely relate to your niche and call it a day, but true social media success comes from having a clear and actionable strategy for reaching your business goals.
Find your business plan now and review your active business goals. As you complete each step in this guide, jot down some notes of how you can leverage social media to help you achieve these goals. It’s also important to know that social media content for your business shouldn’t just be cat videos and trendy memes (although those can be useful, depending on what your niche and business goals are!)
Get in the habit of using R.E.V. to evaluate each idea for a new post – is this content relevant to my target audience? Will this content be engaging for them? What value does this post offer my audience?
Now, clear your calendar, grab a cup of coffee and put that cell phone down! We’re about to do some serious work that will save you serious time in the long run – let’s get to work!
What am I going to post?
The holy grail of social media management questions: “what the heck am I supposed to post?” To figure out exactly what to post, I start my social media scheduling marathon by outlining content buckets.
What are content buckets?
To put it simply, content buckets are categories of social media posts. They go beyond labels like photo, link, or article – they outline what kind of value (R.E.V. alert!) you’re offering your readers. Potential content buckets might include:
- Inspirational quotes
- Blog posts
- Customer reviews
- Behind-the-scenes photos
- Other peoples’ relevant content
- Videos about your goals for the week
To decide what content buckets will work for you, take a look at which of your existing posts are performing well as well as which of your competitors’ post get lots of engagement.
If you’re a blogger, your audience probably engages pretty well with your blog posts on social media – you might want to have separate content buckets for new blog posts as well as evergreen posts from your archives.
Are you a well-established small business with tons of raving reviews on Facebook, Google, or Yelp? Customer reviews definitely need to be on your content bucket list.
Write down a list of 5-10 content bucket ideas that you think could help further your business goals.
Creating a content calendar
I feel like there’s such a big, scary stigma built up around the phrase “content calendar” in the social media marketing world. A content calendar is literally just a calendar that tells you what you’re going to post when and on which platforms. That’s it! Nothing scary about it at all.
Your content calendar can be whatever format you’re most comfortable creating and using. Some people prefer printouts, hand-sketched templates in bullet journals, and some prefer to keep a digital copy. Whatever you’re comfortable with and will actually use once the novelty and aesthetic wears off is the best format, the end.
A content calendar is typically a table that includes:
- Days of the week
- Social media platforms
- A list of what content you’re posting on each day
- A list of content buckets to assist in planning/organizing
My content calendar is just an Excel sheet with days of the week across the top and social media platforms going down the side. I fill in what content I’m posting when with each post color-coded by the content bucket it belongs in. I also add a link to the scheduled post once I’ve created and scheduled my content in case I want to go back and make any changes.
It looks like this:
I know, she’s definitely not a looker, but she gets the job done! Creating a new, schmancier-looking content calendar template is on my list and when that happens, I’ll share it here for public use.
Sketch out a content calendar in your preferred format and write in which content buckets you’ll pull from on which days. It should look something like the first line of my content calendar above.
Creating your content
This is where the hard work gets done! You need to actually create the content you’ll be scheduling in just a bit.
Some of this work is mostly done for you – if one of your content buckets is evergreen blog posts, those posts are already created. If your content buckets include customer reviews or inspirational quotes, this is where you’ll want to create the graphics that showcase that content.
For creating branded social media graphics, I wholeheartedly recommend Canva – it’s free and incredibly easy to use! They even have handy pre-made templates that you can use and customize to save you massive time on this step.
As you create content, remember that social media should work to help you achieve your business goals. Brainstorm some ideas that will bring you closer to success on those goals, and then R.E.V. each one up – make sure it’s relevant, engaging, and valuable to your audience.
My process for creating content looks like this:
- Pick one content bucket on one platform
- Write a list of 10-20 post ideas based on business goals
- Cross off ideas that aren’t R.E.V. – approved
- Create any needed content (images, videos, blog posts, etc.)
- Gather existing content (actual file or links to blog post)
- Add actual content to appropriate spot on content calendar (link to blog post, actual image, etc.)
- Rinse and repeat with each content bucket on each platform
It doesn’t look like a lot on a compacted list like this, and it truly doesn’t feel quite so overwhelming when you break it down into small steps like this. To save time, you can reuse content from platform to platform as long as you customize the caption when you post (which we’re about to get to).
Create all of the content for this month using the process outlined above. Having trouble getting so much work done in one sitting? Try using a productivity app like Focus Keeper to keep you in the zone.
Posting your content
Take a deep breath, get up and stretch, and give yourself a HUGE pat on the back – the hardest part is through! Now all that’s left is to actually post the content you’ve just created. Don’t panic – You don’t have to set a timer to remind you to post eight times a day! Instead, we’re going to schedule a month’s worth of posts right here, right now.
*A note about scheduling tools
There is a vast expanse of social media scheduling tools available for you to use. Some are free, some are paid, some are worth your time, some aren’t. For your sake and mine, I’m only mentioning the scheduling tools that I currently use or have experience with in this post. If you use another tool that I don’t list here, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments!
Posting on Facebook
I’ve previously used both Hootsuite and Buffer to schedule Facebook posts. Recently, Facebook has started to crack down on the use of these automated scheduling tools and will limit the reach of any content posted with one of these tools. For this reason, I now schedule Facebook posts directly through Facebook itself.
To schedule a Facebook post, navigate over to your business page, click on the greyed out “write something” text at the top, and start writing a post like you normally would. When your post is finished, instead of clicking “Publish”, click on the blue arrow to the right:
Do this with each Facebook post you’ve created, making sure each post is tailored to Facebook: no hashtags, make content personal, and use video whenever possible.
Posting on Instagram
Instagram is now allowing automatic posting through approved platforms for the first time ever – hoorah! This change is making your life as a business owner or blogger sooooo much easier.
Two of the most popular Instagram scheduling tools right now are Tailwind and Planoly. If you’re already using Tailwind to schedule Pinterest, you can just add Instagram into your routine with no extra trouble.
If you’re not on Tailwind (and even if you are!), you should look into Planoly to schedule your Instagram posts. I fell in love with Planoly long before automatic scheduling for its hashtag planner, comment management, and beautiful grid planning display, and now that I can post automatically with Planoly, I’m sold for life.
When you’re scheduling your content on Instagram, make sure you use clear, beautifully, engaging images and videos, emojis in the caption, and thoughtfully researched hashtags in the comments – find my post on how to research hashtags here.
Posting on Twitter
Scheduling for Twitter is a bit different than Facebook or Instagram just because of the sheer volume of tweets you need to be noticed. Like, 100+ tweets per day. You’ll want to load up one of the scheduling tools above with loads of R.E.V.-ed up content if you’re serious about using Twitter to grow your business.
I let the scheduling apps post automatically for me every day and add in several tweets every day according to my active business goals that week – if I’m promoting a new series of blog posts, I’ll make sure each of those posts gets tweeted out every day.
Make sure your tweets are within the character limit, includes images whenever possible, and include a relevant hashtag or two.
Posting on Pinterest
Just like Twitter, you’ll need lots of content posted to Pinterest to keep your account active and relevant.
I automatically schedule the bulk of my pins to various individual and group Pinterest boards using Tailwind.When I have a specific campaign, I use Tailwind’s scheduling feature to publish my pins at a certain time and date.
Your pins should have clear and engaging images, be vertical rather than horizontal (Canva has a Pinterest template that will take care of this for you!), and be rich pins formatted to your site’s content.
Learn more about rich pins here.
Posting on Google+
We both know that no one actually uses Google+ anymore. However, adding your blog posts to Google+ is a great way to automatically index your posts in Google’s search engine and boost those SEO rankings! I don’t schedule my Google+ posts, I simply add a blog post in each time I publish it. I still add it to my content calendar to remind myself to index my upcoming posts using Google+.
Schedule all of your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest content to post at the time and date specified on your content calendar. Also spend at least one hour per platform loading tweets and pins into an automatic posting tool like Tailwind to beef up your daily posting presence.
You’ve done it!!! You’ve planned and scheduled an entire month’s worth of social media posts in just one weekend!!! The hardest work is over and done. Now that everything is scheduled, you can focus on engaging with your social media community and monitoring the results of your content.
To analyze how well your content is important, take a look at the reach, engagement, and clicks through to your website for each post. Which posts performed the best? Which didn’t do so hot? Were there certain content buckets that performed better than others? Maybe video performed better than still images on a certain platform?
Take note of the analytics and any patterns or trends you see as your scheduled content is posted. Decide how you will evaluate if your social media strategy is helping you reach your business goals. Choose how often you will evaluate and make changes to your social media strategy.
Write all of this information down somewhere easily accessible and continue looking at it throughout the month.
You just created a social media strategy, created content to accompany that strategy, scheduled a month’s worth of posts, and created a plan to evaluate your results, all in one weekend. Whew! This is the exact strategy I use to create social media strategies for myself and my clients, and I hope you’ve found it useful as well.
Remember: Your social media content should always serve your greater business goals, and should always be R.E.V.-ed up – relevant, engaging, and valuable. The social media work doesn’t stop once you’ve scheduled your content!
The whole point of social media is to be social – remember to spend some time every day connecting with your audience on each platform.
Do you have any questions about social media strategy and scheduling? Have any comments or tips you would add to this post? Planning on clearing your calendar for a social media scheduling marathon this weekend? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time,