Most small business owners have a lot of responsibilities, so making time for social media marketing can be a challenge.
One of the best ways for a small business to stay on top of their social media activities is also the most logical one: planning. Plan your social media calendar, prepare your posts, and then schedule everything either via a calendar system or automatic posting.
When you set aside time to batch your social media marketing production, you can focus on other deadlines and time-sensitive responsibilities.
Planning Your Content
Depending on your business’s level of social media involvement, plan to post a minimum of once a day on the primary social media channels you currently use: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter. Retail and restaurants may post more in the evenings and weekends. Professional services will likely keep a Monday through Friday schedule. Media-related businesses might post multiple times a day.
In addition to your posting schedule, you also should factor in time for engagement and interactions. For instance, replying to comments and direct messages on your social accounts, sharing/retweeting/reposting, and proactively commenting on other people’s content.
Before you start planning your social media calendar, consider the different categories of content you want to post.
- Marketing and Promotional Campaigns: Note the dates of any promotions, sales, events or other marketing efforts. Then, work backwards when you create your social media calendar. In most cases, you’ll want to introduce a campaign several weeks or months in advance, and then increase the frequency of content leading up to, during and immediately following the event. Beyond time-bound campaigns, mix in fun content that informs while promoting your business.
- Partnerships and Philanthropies: In addition to posting about your business, you want to give social media exposure to your alliances. These could include favorite resources, advertisers, strategic alliances and causes. Your clients and followers look to you for recommendations and resources. Include posts that highlight other (non-competing) businesses, people and customers.
- Seasons and Holidays: This can include national, international and unique. There are plenty of notable days and seasons that may be relevant to your business, including but not limited to the traditional calendar. Small Business Saturday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year, Easter, tax season and back to school are all just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many fun, educational and inspiring themes for every week, month and day of the year! Go through a variety of nontraditional calendars and create content you can post on those days, weeks and months. Don’t forget to use hashtags to improve visibility of these posts. Some calendars to review include unique holidays, food holidays, on this day, and pet days.
- Anecdotes and user-generated content: Round out your content mix with stories about your business, clients and fans. This can range from behind-the-scenes and history of your company posts to testimonials and user-generated content. These types especially benefit from a graphic component. A great way to do this is through Instagram Stories. Instagram recently launched a new camera and ‘Create’ mode that makes it even easier to generate content and invite engagement.
- News and Trends: While you can’t plan the specifics of news and trends, you can make room for it in your posting schedule. Leave a few spots each week, or month, for industry news and trending content. Sometimes something unexpected will come into play and other times you may need to fill in with a previous popular post. Although it sounds counterintuitive, being flexible leads to successful planning.
Once you have a mix of concepts and ideas, create your posts and set your schedule.
You can plan your calendar anywhere from one month to a quarter to six months in advance.
The easiest way to plan your content is to go old-school and use a spreadsheet. Or, create a new Google calendar to create and track posts. Or, find an online solution.
- Spreadsheet Calendar. Columns to include: Date to Post, Type, Reason, Title, Description, Link (you will later add the link for tracking purposes), Image(s) (description or link to folder), Platform, Engagement notes.
- Google Calendar. Hit the + sign next to Other Calendars and use it for your content.
Wave Video has a useful free social calendar with post ideas and templates. As a bonus, you can sync it with your calendar! (Google, iCal or Outlook).
For Facebook and Instagram, you have a totally free native option right in your Creator Studio. This tool allows you to schedule posts for your Facebook business page, Instagram business profile and IGTV.
For all other social platforms, I strongly recommend making good use of a third-party scheduling tool.
- Agorapulse is a one-stop dashboard for social media management that enables you to schedule, reschedule, queue or bulk upload your posts. They also have excellent social listening and community management features. Agorapulse offers a free 28-day trial and friends of Mari can save 20% off any monthly plan for your first full year with code: marisave20. Also, check out their free social media tools. [Full disclosure: Mari Smith is an enthusiastic brand ambassador for—and long-time power user of—Agorapulse.]
- ContentCal is a beautiful, visual calendar perfect for planning, scheduling and auto-publishing your social media content. Among other terrific features, their sweet spot is intuitive workflow processes which comes in handy when you have multiple team members creating, curating, scheduling and approving your social posts. Friends of Mari can save 20% on the Company Plan, monthly or annual options with code MARI20.
Additional scheduling tools to look into include Hootsuite, Buffer, PostPlanner, Edgar, CoSchedule and TweetDeck. Plus, there are platform-specific tools such as Tailwind for Pinterest and Instagram. And, Later, Planoly, PlannThat or PreviewApp for Instagram. Depending on the social channels you use most and particularly enjoy, you might be well served with a special tool just for that app.
Social media planning and scheduling is a massive time-saver. Once you’ve laid the groundwork, you only need to be conscious of a few things.
- Watch out for news to incorporate into your posts if relevant.
- Avoid a PR snafu. For instance, if there is a natural disaster or (local or national) tragedy, you will want to cease regularly scheduled (especially upbeat) content.
About Mari Smith
Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.
Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.
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