With the average person spending over 2 hours per day on social media and accessing their newsfeeds up to 15 times daily , it’s essential for small businesses to not only understand social media marketing but to embrace it and build an effective strategy to connect with potential customers.
Many organisations love how flexible social media marketing can be and that you can communicate with your friends, customers and followers at the drop of a hat; that means that you don’t have to plan what you talk about on social media, right?…………………………………wrong!
Developing an effective social media content calendar for your business is key to delivering a strong strategy. Being proactive and planning what you are going to say to who, when and on which platform is key to delivering authority, brand identity and delivering a set of consistent messages to your audience. So where do you start? Here are our 5 top tips for delivering a strong content calendar:
Design a robust content calendar template
Having a content calendar template will allow you to form and crystallise your plans across platforms. Excel can be a great tool to help you develop this. Try setting up a series of spreadsheets which allow you to plan your posts on a weekly basis. Below are some suggested headings you should think about adding:
• What social media platforms you will communicate on by day (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn , Instagram)?
• Post type – This could be brand, blog, a special offer, product related or 3rd party article that may be of interest to your audience.
• Topic – What is the general topic of your post?
• Image/video – Make a note of what sort of image or video you will use to deliver a strong looking post.
• Post – Write what the post will actually say on your social profiles – this also helps avoid those occasional spelling mistakes!
• Link – Insert the link that you want potential customers to click on – this should be somewhere within your own site unless you are posting about a relevant 3rd party article.
Maximise the holidays and avoid missing important dates
It’s important to map out the seasonal holidays, events, themes and any important dates which could be critical for you to post on or advertise alongside. Ensure you have a plan for:
• Seasonal holidays/events –Theme your marketing or offers to underline key events in the yearly calendar – Back to School, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, Easter, The World Cup, Six Nations. The list is endless, but it’s key to choose those that best fit your business.
• Themes or time related purchases – It is important to think about timing of your posts and campaigns. Posting around payday will likely yield more purchases than campaigns in the middle of a month. Similarly, if you offer gym or fitness related products, January is a likely target for your marketing efforts given the mindset and good intensions surrounding New Year’s resolutions.
• Important dates which reflect upon your business – ensure that you know about all the dates which might enable you to launch a campaign around. For example if you are a local café business do you know when National Cake Day or National Coffee Day is? Do you have a plan of what you will post on these days? And will you create an offer for people who come in to buy? Failure to identify these sorts of opportunities could be embarrassing for you as a business, but also a missed opportunity to talk to potential customers about something that is topical or trending.
Deliver quality posts and don’t bombard your audience
It’s tempting to communicate across social media as often as you can, however quality is better than quantity. You need to create a steady flow of information and posts for your customers to ensure that you deliver an “always on” approach. Plan on 1-3 posts per week per platform and think about the quality of information that you post to your page. Ensure the information is relevant, current and topical and that your customers will be interested in it. Try to make sure that your information is valuable and avoid the temptation to just always post about how good your product or service is or why people should buy your product. Find the balance.
Be sure to add hashtags
Hashtags are an important element to add into your posts across social media, allowing users to search for content with these tags. Try to aim for a mixture of wide ranging and popular hashtags to improve your chances of rating in search results, but also you might want to consider a few more niche hashtags in order to try and appear higher up in search results. Going back to our café example, hashtags to sign off your posts with could be #coffee, #tea, #cake, #takeabreak, #carrotcake #coffeewalnut #yummy.
Utilise scheduling tools
Once you have your plan, ulitise tools such as the Facebook scheduling tool and Hootsuite – these are just two examples of tools, there are many more. These tools make it easy to load multiple posts and schedule them, so that you have a regular flow of posts to your audience. This not only means that you are more proactive, it also means that you are less reliant upon somebody being around to post on particular days. It also provides a host of analytical data around how many people you have reached and how many people interacted with your post, so that you can tweak and improve future plans.
Start planning now
Regardless of which platform(s) you choose to interact on, the necessity for a content calendar is clear. Having a clear view of who you will interact with and when is key to delivering a successful strategy. With events like Black Friday, Christmas, Boxing Day and the New Year just around the corner it’s time to start working on your content calendar now, and giving your social media plans more structure.