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How to create a social media content calendar for your small business
If your business’s relationship with social media marketing is confused, neglected or lacking focus and creativity, fear not. The social media mists are about to clear...
When you’re running a small business your time is precious. You can’t afford to waste it procrastinating over what to post on social media every day. Enter the social media content calendar!
A social media content calendar helps you plan and schedule all of your posts in advance. All in one place. It’s a record of what you’ll publish, when you’ll do it and which social platforms you’ll use. How handy is that!
Download Transmit Startups social media content planner for startups here and read on to learn how to use it.
Benefits of creating a plan for your social media
Most small businesses have the same issue with social media. They know they want to use it to reach customers, but they lack the time or inspiration to do it consistently. That's why a content calendar is so helpful.
- Get organised: you’ll know what you’re going to post and who is responsible. No more panic posting when you’re not sure what to do next on your chosen platforms.
- Boost your brand: by planning ahead, you can create content that boosts your brand by giving real value to your customers – posts that establish your authority and help customers solve their problems
- Maximise opportunities: don’t miss out on major events that could help you connect with customers. Know what’s coming up in the next few months and plan content to maximise on interest in it. No more worrying about missing key events in your industry, an important holiday or #NationalPeanutButterLoversDay
- Make it count: our content planner helps you to plan social media strategically and track what’s working for you. No more spending time on social for no little return. You’ll build a picture of what gets engagement, so you can do more of that.
- Share the load: our content planner makes it easier to divide and conquer by sharing responsibility with others in your team. Easily delegate a channel, a campaign or a day-a-week to other team members.
- Be consistent: planning your content will help you stay on brand and use a consistent tone of voice across all media and posts
Won’t I end up spending more time on all this planning?
No! By putting aside some time to plan ahead now, you’ll spend less time on social media overall. The hours you do put in will be much more effective.
And when you’re under pressure to do other things within your business, knowing your social posts are already planned will free up time and head space for other tasks.
Creating (and sticking to) a consistent posting schedule will bring other rewards too.
Potential followers will soon realise it’s worth their time following you when they see you’re invested in the channel and have interesting content to share.
You’ll also encourage current followers to engage with you on a regular basis, nurturing long-lasting relationships that ultimately lead to sales.
Let's get started!
1. Do a simple social media audit
Before diving into your new content calendar, you need to review what’s worked for you on social media so far. (If you're new to social media, just look at the last question).
- What channels am I currently using? Are you on the best channels for your audience? Does one channel work better than others? Are there new channels you should consider? Where are your competitors?
- Which channels do my audience use most? Do you get more traffic on Facebook than Twitter? Are your customers businesses (LinkedIn) or individuals (Facebook)? Do you need to change the channels you use to reach your ideal customer?
- Which channels are driving traffic to my website? Find this out in Google Analytics (current at > Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals). Will you put more effort into top performing channels or try to boost ones that aren't working so well? Have a goal and experiment.
- What types of content have performed well in the past? Do your audience respond better to video or photos? Are case studies or customer reviews more popular?
- What are my competitors posting? Don’t copy the competition – embrace your uniqueness - but see if they’re posting anything engaging that you’ve not thought of.
2. Familiarise yourself with each social network
Each social network has its own distinct audience. For example, LinkedIn is commonly used for business-to-business marketing, Facebook is more conversational and used for business-to-customer. Different networks are popular with different age groups too.
Use this demographic information to decide which channels to use to ensure everything you plan to post is appropriate to the audience.
Also, some platforms are designed to publish certain types of content, such as Instagram for photos and YouTube for videos. So if your business is particularly visual (such as fashion or travel), this will also affect your choice of network.
3. Consider what types of content you’ll create
There are four main different post types you can publish on social:
- Images: either single images or galleries
- Video: this could include live video streaming or video you upload directly to the network
- Text: simple copy is sometimes all it takes (though a good graphic always grabs attention)
- Links: links to external or owned content
When planning content, you should think about:
- What’s worked well with your audience in the past (see audit above)
- What works best for the channels you’re using
- Available capacity / budget / tools to produce quality content
4. Don't be a business bore
When planning your posts make sure you avoid becoming boring and talking too much about your own brand. You can do this by following a simple 80/20 rule: Post 80 percent helpful and interesting content for every 20 percent that’s selling your product.
People like content that adds value to their lives or businesses. Think how you can maximise interest and engagement with your audience.
- provide information and tips that help them?
- share special offers and competitions?
- brighten their day with humour or shareworthy content?
This can all build your brand and establish your reputation as an expert in your field.
Top tip: Not all content has to be created by you. Remember to look elsewhere for content you can curate, such as articles, videos and news stories from your industry. You can also encourage user-generated content like customer photos and reviews.
5. Plan how often you’ll publish
There are several things to think about when deciding how often to publish.
- Current post frequency: go back to your social media audit. How often are you currently posting on each social network? Does this work or do you need to tweak things?
- Network needs: are you keeping up with what the network needs? Twitter is fast-moving and it’s wise to schedule regular Tweets throughout the day, whereas other platforms may only need a post daily or weekly.
- Resources available: how much time do you have to create content and keep on top of interactions? Remember that your posts may generate customer engagement and you need to be able to respond to queries in a timely way. Customers expect a speedy response on social media (see 9 below).
6. Sort out a process to keep things flowing
The last step before you start populating your calendar is to make sure you have a process in place to manage your content and minimise mistakes.
How far in advance will you schedule content?
Who will be responsible for:
- updating your content calendar?
- creating, approving and publishing content?
- evaluating content to see what’s worked and what needs to be improved?
Different people might be better placed to handle different steps of the process.
Be sure to draw on your best creative resources when coming up with ideas for new content. But put your most detail-focused staff member on proofreading duty before hitting the publish button.
7. Plan your themes, campaigns and annual events
You don’t have to plan a full year of content. Some businesses plan a month or three-months ahead. However, there are annual events that you can put into your calendar now and have a skeleton plan a full year in advance.
Here are a few ideas:
- national and international days
- social media holidays (look out for the interesting and ones as a good hook for a post)
- awareness days
- events organised by your company, held locally or nationally
- sales such as end of season specials or Black Friday
- product or feature launches
- themes built around topics relating to your business or issues your customers care about
- resharing evergreen content – content that remains relevant and continues to drive traffic long after it is published
We’ve populated a sample day on our calendar with a few content ideas for a babywear business to get you started.
8. Now for the best bit: filling up your calendar template!
Our template shows a week per sheet, divided by platform. But you can adapt the template to suit your business.
- Choose your channels: we’ve included four channels here but you can easily swap or add any networks that suit your business better. Likewise, we’ve assumed a certain number of posts per day but that can be changed to suit your needs.
- Write your post copy: write your post text directly into the content field. Don’t worry if it’s not word-perfect right now, you can update this closer to the time of publishing. Put any draft text in a different colour and change it to black when it is ready to publish.
- Add images or video: make a note of any image or video that you’ve chosen to accompany your post. Uploading videos and images into a central storage place (like Google Drive or Dropbox) is a good way to keep things tidy and easily located.
- Pick when to publish: add the time that you want your post to publish. There is plenty of information available online about the best time of day to maximise engagement of different platforms.
Top tip: You can use free image libraries to find relevant images to accompany your text. And online tools like Canva and Animoto can help you produce professional graphics and slideshow content.
9. Schedule your posts in one place
You can post and publish on each platform individually if you want to. But it is much more efficient to use a scheduling tool to manage all of your social media in one place.
Tools such as HootSuite, Buffer, CoSchedule or Sprout Social let you manage multiple social media accounts from their dashboard.
You can schedule all of your posts, measure your success, and even set up alerts for mentions of your business online. Many offer free versions or free trials that can meet the needs of a small business.
10. Engage and enjoy...
Don’t forget the most important feature of social media… being social!
Content posted on social media can be the start of a conversation with your ideal customer. So be prepared to monitor comments and connect with customers who reach out.
Be aware, however, that social media can be a weak link in your customer journey if it isn’t monitored or managed properly.
Have a process in place for dealing with enquiries, order and (whisper it) complaints received online.
If someone posts a:
- compliment: thank them
- question: respond quickly and courteously
- complaint: ask them to message you privately so that you can resolve their issue.
Don’t forget to let your brand personality shine and use language that feels relevant and authentic to your audience.
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