Having a big following on social media is one thing, having a tribe of loyal fans is another.
The world of social media can be fickle and superficial; what’s currently trending today, will most likely be forgotten tomorrow.
However, there are a growing amount of people out there who are seeking a more genuine and fulfilling experience when it comes to social media. The millennial consumer is searching for greater meaning from brands. It’s more than just buying a product or service, it’s about the cause that the service or product stands for.
Once they find a brand that aligns with their values, whatever those values may be, they become faithful fans who act as brand ambassador of sorts.
Tapping into this segment is about providing value, in content and messaging; it’s ultimately about giving to your audience, not about what you can get from them.
A social media content calendar will give your business a solid framework for developing and executing the message that you want to convey to your audience. It gives you the ability to develop themes and offer valuable content that will build a loyal following, develop credibility and build authority as a leader in your industry.
A social media calendar should be utilised by every business with a social presence, no matter how big or small. The beauty of a social media calendar is that it can be tailored to your business. If you’re a small business, you can simplify it to suit your needs. You can either go down the route of using a simple excel template, or select from the many social media calendar programs out there.
It’ll give you the framework you’ll need to plan your content, manage campaigns and track deadlines. Scheduling ahead of time is key to ensuring that you have consistent messaging, and you’re executing according to your communications strategy.
Randomly sharing content without intent behind it, can potentially damage your brand in the long term, so avoid doing it.
The way you communicate to your audience on social media should be thought out and as strategic as the other forms of external communications you execute in your business.
Here’s a 7-step guide to building a tribe of raving fans using a social media calendar:
1. Understand Your Audience
How can you provide value if you don’t understand who your audience is and what they value? You need to know your customer better than they know themselves.
Having a picture of what your ideal customer looks like will give you a great foundation to formulate your social media content strategy.
Knowing everything from the basics like, where they live and how old they are, to more detailed information like, what their buying habits are and what their preferences are, is key to building a loyal social media following.
For example, when they’re wanting to purchase an item, do they conduct research? How do they go about it i.e. online or through their networks? Once they’ve made a decision, do they go to a store to purchase it or do they go through the entire buyer journey online?
Understanding their pain points, the problems they are looking to solve, and their needs and wants will give you greater insight into who they are. Knowing more about who they are and what drives their decisions, will lead to understanding why and how they purchase goods and services.
Knowing what initially piques their interest, as well as what keeps them interested, gives you the information you need to formulate your communication so it speaks directly to them.
2. Develop Your Themes
Now that you have a clear understanding of who your ideal customer is, you can develop different themes for your social media content.
How you do this will be determined by your business structure and the services/goods you offer your customers.
It could be developed around the different departments within your business that each solve a different customer problem, or it could be about the different problems that your one product solves for the customer.
When you’re developing your different themes always keep the customer in mind. Look at things from their perspective, not yours.
You may have recently developed an innovative technology that’s going to completely transform your industry and make things so much easier for your customers. Without even knowing, you could get caught up in all the technical aspects of how it works, not what benefit it provides.
As a customer, I may have zero technological knowledge and I’ll quickly switch off if you start getting too technical in your messaging, Ultimately, I want to know how and what this product can do for me i.e. what part of my life is it going to make easier?
You can get caught up in the internal workings of the product/service because you live it day in, day out. You know the lingo and the ins and outs of how things work, but the customer most likely doesn’t.
So, take a step back from everything, and change your view so you can see it from the customer’s perspective.
3. Choosing A Platform
It’s not about having a presence on every social media platform, it’s about finding the one that’s best for your business.
There’s an array of social media platforms out there, but not all of them may be the right fit for your business.
Small organisations often make the mistake of engaging all the major platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. They don’t have the resources to properly maintain each platform, so they end up having a below par presence on a multitude of platforms, rather than having a remarkable presence on just one.
Not engaging professionally and strategically on social media can damage your brand, so start small. You can always widen your reach onto other platforms once you’ve perfected your strategy.
Each platform has a different user demographic, so before you start creating profiles on all of them and stretching yourself thin, do some research and determine which one is best suited to your business. If you have a huge social media budget with heaps of resources then that’s fantastic, but in most cases, there’ll be a limited budget, limited resources and limited time.
Find the best fit for you and start there.
For example, if you’re planning to produce loads of video content then YouTube would be the obvious choice. If your ideal customer is below the age of 35, then Instagram might be your platform of choice. As of June 2019, 34% of all Instagram users are between the ages of 25 and 34, with 31% being between 18 and 24.
If you’re present on more than one platform, use your social media content calendar to coordinate your posts between them. Just like your posts on a specific platform should be planned, you need to coordinate between platforms to ensure consistent messaging.
4. Content Type
Online video content has boomed over the last 12 months, with more people consuming it than ever before. However, video content may not necessarily be right for every audience.
Whether it’s video, written and/or photographic, the type of content you create needs to be relevant to your audience, so keep your customer in mind.
Originality, creativity and value are all key when it comes to creating social media content.
Don’t be afraid to add in a bit of personality to the content. At the end of the day, whatever makes your business unique is what will stand out, so add some personality and it will scream authenticity.
The type of content you create doesn’t have to be limited by the skills you have, or don’t have within your business. You don’t have to be constrained to using stock images for every post. That’s a huge no, no.
If you come to the conclusion that say for example, video content, is what’s going to best communicate with your audience, but you don’t have the skills or equipment to create it, don’t stress!
There are endless content creation options out there for every type of content and every budget. From digital marketing companies to freelancers, there is someone who can create the type of content you want for an affordable price. Don’t let budget or skills limit your creativity.
Whatever content you decide to pursue, always ensure that it’s authentic, provides value to the audience and is different to what others are doing. Are you in a niche market that has skills that others can use? Create “how to” or educational videos with tips and tricks that will make your audience’s life easier.
Don’t forget to have some fun too. Whimsical/funny content shouldn’t be overlooked as it’s a great way to initially grab your audience’s attention.
Your social media calendar needs to include every piece of content that you intend to post. The amount of content you plan to post will dictate the frequency and how far in advance you plan it. From one post a week to several a day, a social media content calendar can work for any type of social strategy; it keeps your content structured, intentional and focused.
5. Posting Frequency
Posting regularly doesn’t guarantee a loyal following. If you’re posting regularly just for the sake of it and there’s no real value in your content, then you’re getting it wrong.
It’s great to be top of mind, however it’s better to post less frequently with content that’s going to have an impact.
Use the social media calendar to identify what days and what times you plan to post your content and stick to it. It’ll give you the structure and focus you need to professionally execute your social media strategy.
If you have a team, it provides clarity for staff in regards to what’s happening now, and what’s coming down the track.
When you’re scheduling your content, keep that ideal customer in mind. For example, if your customer is a mom who generally rises early, consider posting content first thing in the morning. If your customer is located overseas or in a different time zone, make sure you’re considering the time difference.
Do some research online. There’s a lot of data regarding when to post content in terms of the day of the week and the time.
6. Schedule In Advance
Gone are the days of you having to sit behind your computer and post every piece of content individually.
There are loads of options when it comes to scheduling your posts in advance on social media
Tools like Hootsuite give you the ability to manage your social media posts in one place with easy scheduling options. Planning may be one thing, but executing your social media strategy is another. Social media scheduling tools make the execution that much easier so you’re more likely to keep on track.
Make sure you include the scheduling part into your social media calendar. Scheduling posts takes time so you’ll need to include this time in your calendar. Select a period that’s best suited to your business operations and make sure this crucial step isn’t overlooked.
Whether you schedule a week or a month in advance, scheduling ahead of time is highly recommended in order to efficiently execute your strategy. When you don’t schedule ahead of time, things can be missed. You may come to a busy period and not have the time to post content.
Planning is key to successful social media strategy execution.
7. Monitor Metrics
Social media occurs in real time. Trends can explode around the globe in a matter of minutes. Depending on how you look at it, it can be a curse or a blessing for your business.
With social media, you get access to real time data about how your audience is responding to your content. If something isn’t working, you can tweak it immediately. If something works, you can do more of it. It’s a great learning curve for those who are new to social media, as well as a great insight for those who have been in the game for a while.
Schedule monitoring into your social media content calendar to ensure you’re taking the time to get the insights available to you. Ensure that you constantly use these metrics to adjust your content going forward. Your social media calendar should be a work in progress, rather than one that’s set in stone.
Social Media Content Calendar Template
Whether you choose to use an excel spreadsheet or a whizz bang tool, whatever works for your business is what matters.
If you’re starting small, then an excel template will be more than sufficient. Once things become a bit more complicated, you may consider using a paid social media content scheduling tool.
Social Media For Small Business
Social media for small business doesn’t have to be too complicated. Use this 7-step guide to start small and build from there.
Planning is an excellent way to ensure that you have a strategic approach to social media, and a social media content calendar is the best way to ensure you’re doing that.