Using social media is something most businesses know they need to do; few know how to do; and fewer still know how to do well. Those that don’t know how to run an effective social media marketing campaign come to the conclusion it’s not worth trying.
As one of the best social media marketing agencies around, we’re here to tell you that’s not the case. A carefully devised social media marketing calendar can turn your social pages into powerful marketing tools.
But they do require a bit of planning, a bit of research, and above all — an understanding of what makes social media marketing tick.
So let’s help you start building an irresistible social media marketing calendar from the ground up.
To get started, we really need to begin with understanding the mind of a consumer on social media.
Social Media Marketing vs Traditional Marketing
The most important word in “social media marketing” isn’t “marketing”.
You probably knew this. To be fair, it’s an obvious statement. But so many fewer people who “know” this fact actually act on it.
So it bares repeating. Social media marketing.
That’s all well and good, but what does it mean in terms of how to use the platform?
You might have heard the terms inbound and outbound marketing in the past. Social media marketing is decidedly “inbound” marketing.
What that means is that social media marketing is about attracting people to your business rather than just telling them about it. It’s about talking with, not to, your potential customers.
Blog posts are also “inbound” marketing. They’re designed to attract and create brand awareness. For example, by writing this blog post we’re helping to establish ourselves as one of the best social media marketing agencies. We provide valuable content, for free. We know what we’re talking about.
But we’re not telling you to buy from us. We’re not trying to sell you on our services. If you decide after reading this post that we’re the people for you, that would be fantastic — but you wouldn’t think that because we put a sales offer in front of you saying “buy now”.
But blog posts are still one-way streets; we write it, you read it, and that’s our interaction. Social media takes this to the next level.
With social media, you have a chance to engage with your audience directly in a way that traditional outbound marketing like print, radio, and television, simply cannot allow. On social media, when a business writes something, the audience can write back — and a conversation can begin.
And here’s the kicker; social media allows this to happen, and social media marketing requires this to happen in order to work.
People on social media don’t want to be directly sold to. They’re there to interact with people. When your entire social media output is just sending out sales notifications and product or service notifications, people go elsewhere. What’s there to say to a “50% Off Today Only!” message, really?
If you treat social media as just another place to upload your advertisements, it’s not going to work. You can’t just blast people with sales messaging and expect them to keep listening. They get enough of that on TV, radio, and most websites they visit.
To create a social media marketing calendar that works, you must be sociable. Only when you truly accept that core concept can you start to make an effective plan.
Social Media Marketing Calendars: What Are They?
A social media marketing calendar is an outline of what social media posts you’ll be sharing and when. It is, simply, a calendar listing all the dates and times for posts.
Why do you want, or need a social media marketing calendar?
A few reasons:
- You can plan to create content ahead of time so you don’t rush.
- You can make sure you’ve got something planned for important dates — major holidays, sales periods, etc.
- While you can always post outside of the times on the calendar, the calendar will at least give you something to fall back on if you don’t have time.
Planning when to release content can actually be a huge part of social media marketing success. Exact days of the week, and exact times of the day, can produce better results for different posts.
For example, posting midnight on a Wednesday probably isn’t going to get you as many views as between 7-9am on a weekday, when people are getting up and ready for work.
Creating an Irresistible Social Media Marketing Calendar
OK, so we know what we need to do on social media — be social. Engage. And we know why we need a calendar — to effectively plan and not waste time and resources.
So, where do we begin?
Taking a page out of the book of Buffer, a web analytics company, your best bet is to follow these steps.
Work Out Your Social Media Post Categories
One of the most powerful things about social media is that you can post just about any type of content on one or all of your social media channels.
You can break your categories down either into the type of content, or the exact type of media.
Content type might be:
- Sales promotions
- Announcements — sales, new product, new services, achievements, awards, etc.
- Conversation starters to get your audience engaged
- Authority building through advice, sharing useful content, giveaways, etc.
Specific media will include things like:
- Blog posts
Or you might go broader, with umbrella categories like:
Work out what categories flow most naturally with your business, and which you can achieve well.
This is where you can most plainly see how much of your social calendar is “inbound” and how much you’re planning to use as “outbound”. If you see that you’re planning a lot of promotions and product announcements, maybe cut back and make sure you’re providing conversation starters, value-adding posts, etc.
PRO TIP: Don’t plan lots of content that you aren’t sure if you can pull off. Video is great, but cheap video can often be a deterrent.
Work Out Your Category Placement
Ever follow a video channel or a web page that posts a specific topic every Wednesday? That’s the kind of thing you need to consider with the placement of your categories within your social media marketing calendar.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday are frequently the best times to post content. Weekends can be good, but this will depend on what you’re posting, and your audience.
The key is consistency. If you want your own version of “Throwback Thursday”, don’t start posting it on a Monday halfway through the month — and don’t stop if you don’t get many responses in the first two or so weeks.
PRO TIP: You don’t need to plan out an entire year! In fact, it can be better to only plan a few months in ahead. Major holidays you can obviously plan for well in advanced — Christmas is always on the same day. But try a schedule for 2-3 months, then check how it’s going and adjust.
Work Out Your Updates
So you know your categories, and you know when they’ll be uploaded — but what are you sharing on social media?
Your calendar should include the date and time of the post, whatever text you intend to write on the post, and any additional items like an external link, image description, video description, etc.
Writing these out ahead of time will mean spending very little time on the day sharing the content. You can plan a month’s worth of updates in a day or so, and then a few minutes making them live afterwards. It’s much more time efficient than trying to work it out on the day and potentially missing your schedule.
For videos and images, you might not be able to make them too far ahead of time. At least write the concept and a description to make things faster on the day.
PRO TIP: Favour content you can make yourself, but go for quality where it’s needed. A photo you take yourself on a decent smartphone will show your audience you care; stock images make it feel like you’ve just handed off the task to an employee trying to get the work done quickly to meet a deadline.
Something like video can be a bit trickier to pick. Sometimes your phone is all you need, and sometimes you need to shell out for a decent video product. Always try to imbue it with your branding and personality. Cookie cutter material doesn’t stick on social media.
Special Events and One-Offs
Two things many social media users love that you can work into your calendar:
Plan ahead for holidays relevant to your business. Be aware of the image you want to portray. Remember, this is inbound marketing, convincing people to follow you and look into what you provide.
Do not try to acknowledge a holiday if it doesn’t feel organic for your business to do so. Social media users can smell pandering a mile out, and will abandon you. A local Australian business that only operates in Melbourne, for example, might not want or need to make a remembrance post about 9/11 — but a multinational company based in Melbourne might.
As for trivia, a simple, fun thing you can do is look on history.net for “Today in History” for relevant historical facts, or “Days of the Year” to find strange, international “days” that might be relevant to your business.
For example, Jan 18th is “Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day”, which could be very relevant for a gym to mention!
These event and one-shot posts can break up the monotony and feed into the “social” aspect of social media marketing — after all, who doesn’t know somebody sharing trivia every other day on their feeds?
And That’s It, Right? Calendar Done?
Of course not.
Like with any aspect of marketing, the final step is never to just execute the plan; it’s to analyse the results and use those to start working out a better plan.
Analysing your post results will require a multi-faceted approach. Google Analytics to see your site traffic, Facebook analytics for Facebook and Instagram posts, and even just looking at the likes/shares across many platforms.
This information will tell you what days and times get the best results and what content gets the best engagement. Start planning the next phase of your marketing calendar with these data points in mind.
Engage with your audience. Put the effort in to making your own content rather than using stock, where possible. Create brand awareness through your posts and message, and lead people to your site because they want to, not because you told them.
If you don’t have the time to prepare your own calendar, enlist the help of a social media marketing agency to help. With a properly considered social media marketing calendar behind you, you can start to see results you never thought possible.
Start today! You’ve got nothing to lose.