“I know I should be more organized on social media, but I don’t know where to start.”
That is the number one problem people who fill out my survey say they have. In fact, 58% of people select this as a roadblock.
And I totally get it. It’s not that you’re actually unorganized, it’s just that when it comes to setting up a regular, cohesive posting schedule on social media, you have no f$%*ing idea how to get started.
You probably wake up, do a million things for your business or blog or maybe even another job, and then you think, “Oh man. I need to post on Facebook.” So you go to the platform and you type whatever comes to mind. Maybe it’s a meme. Maybe it’s a take on a current event. Maybe it’s your store hours. But you didn’t really know what you were going to post until you got there.
Then that seemed so annoying and overwhelming, that you may have just given up on the other platforms for that day. Or even altogether.
There are ways to avoid this feeling of being totally defeated by this process. One of those ways is to get organized. But how?
The most obvious thing you need to do is create a content calendar. NOW BEFORE YOU THROW YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR AND LEAVE THIS POST (I saw you, Jimmy), I’m going to walk you through not one, but two ways to create a content calendar. If you can’t follow just one of those ways, well too-da-loo, because it will make things much easier for you.
A content calendar is a shareable resource that you’ll use to plan your marketing efforts on social media throughout the year. Yes, I said marketing, not posting, because that is what you’re doing. Every time you post to your brand’s social media platforms, you are marketing your brand. Now thinking back on what you’ve been haphazardly posting, that seems kind of scary, huh?
The further ahead you plan, the more consistent your flow of content will be. You should always have room to fight fires, so if you need to move content around to make room for something more important that comes up suddenly, it’s easy to do that with a content calendar.
The first step in creating the content calendar is identifying what platforms you’ll be using, who your audience is on each and the topics you want to cover. Think strategically when deciding who your audience is – you may want to be reaching different types. For example, you may want to reach new customers, but also potential employees. Or maybe you’re looking to get the attention of a popular vendor.
You can create content for all of these audiences, you just need to decide what the content distribution will be. For example, you can say 80% of your content is targeted towards new customers, 10% towards potential employees and 10% towards vendors.
To figure out exactly how much time each week you have to spend on content, divide that by the average time it takes to create one post, then divide that by the number of platforms you have and voila! You have your number.
For example, say I have four hours per week to spend on social media content. (Note that I say content, not community management. That’s totally separate and should not cut into your content time bucket.)
If it takes me approximately 30 minutes to create one post, I divide 4 by .5 (since each 1 represents a full hour, a half-hour is represented by .5). That gives me 8, so I can reasonably say that I can create 8 posts a week.
Now, if I’m on three platforms, say Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and I divide 8 by 3, I get 2.67. Obviously, you’re not going to post 2.67 times per week, so to be safe, round that number down to 2 and you have your weekly post per platform number. 2 posts per platform per week. (Plus since we rounded down, you’ll have some extra time to create even better content!)
Once you’ve figured that out and written your content, it’s time to start scheduling it into your content calendar.
The best way to do this is to sign up for Sprout Social* and use their content calendar tool. Here’s why. If you’re going to implore the calendar method, which means you write content a week to a month in advance, you’re also going to need a scheduling software. I have been using Sprout Social for four years and it is by far the most well-rounded platform out there.
In addition to a ton of great features, Sprout Social has a beautifully designed weekly view that joins with Sprout’s existing team publishing tools to make it even easier to collaborate on content campaigns across multiple profiles and networks. That means that if you have someone helping you with social media, you can use Sprout Social to collaborate on projects, and even limit their access so that they can create and schedule content, but need approval from you before it’s posted.
The Sprout publishing calendar brings efficiency and consistency to your publishing efforts. You can easily view and manage a full week’s worth of social posts across multiple profiles and networks all in one place.
Once you’ve signed up for Sprout Social, click Calendar in Publishing > Scheduled, located both at the bottom of the left-side navigation and below the monthly calendar on the right bar.
Clicking any post on the calendar will open it in Compose, enabling you to make any necessary edits. To add a new post, click on an open space, and a new Compose window will appear. You can easily jump between weeks, using the arrows next to the date at the top of the calendar.
Depending on your publishing strategy and the number of profiles you are managing, your calendar can quickly start to fill up. A weekly visualization of your social posts across profiles and networks is a great way to ensure a well-rounded social program.
To streamline the content management process, the Sprout Social calendar layout is designed to be responsive to the scheduled content within that week.
- The time range of the calendar will start on the hour of that week’s earliest scheduled post.
- All other messages will stack up vertically and show a relative distribution across all seven days.
- When scheduling the same message to publish on multiple dates, each instance of the post will appear on the calendar in its respective date and time.
Also, filtering the calendar by profile is a great way to quickly identify publishing gaps. For example, maybe you’re a bit too Twitter heavy this week and need a few more Facebook posts. Filtering the calendar can expose these gaps in your publishing strategy so you can easily make edits to the existing schedule and add new content where needed.
While understanding how your content lays out over the course of a week is important to your overall social program, it’s also helpful to dig in more granularly. Scheduled posts that include photos or links will display thumbnail images and metadata, respectively.
Meanwhile, visual icons and hover states enable you to see full details for each of your scheduled posts right from the calendar—including audience targeting by network, approval status and all profiles and networks where the message will be published.
Pro tip: reposting messages and spreading posts across multiple dates and times is an effective way to get more mileage out of your social content.
For small business owners, Sprout Social is by far my favorite publishing and monitoring tool. It has a clean and easy-to-use interface and is packed with a ton of features, like premium engagement and trends reports, advanced social listening, unified inbox and a robust content calendar. I know HootSuite has always been touted as the number one tool just because it’s been around the longest, but I promise I’ve used both and Sprout Social really has surpassed HootSuite’s abilities.[Click here to sign up for a free 30-day trial of Sprout Social.]
But say you want to do content calendars the old-fashioned way. Here’s an example of a content calendar I created for a client a few years ago:
The purpose of this calendar was to remind me what content I needed to create. As you can see, it doesn’t have the specific posts themselves embedded into the calendar. This was helpful for using it to get a visual of when I needed to have content prepared and then use Sprout’s scheduling tool and calendar to actually lay it out.
But, since you want to be old fashioned, I created a content calendar for you. I know, I know, I’m just so nice.
The calendar is completely editable within the PDF. Each day of the week includes a drop down menu where you can select what platform the focus is on.
Now throughout all of this you may be thinking I skipped one major thing here. Exactly what the heck are you even supposed to post!?
But don’t worry. That’s a problem I’ve noticed small business owners having for a long time, and I’ve been working on a big project that is going to tackle just that problem. And I’m going to announce what that is super soon. Like, immediately soon. In the meantime, make sure you download my 20 Social Media Campaigns You Can Steal Right Now workbook to get your gears turning on the possible campaigns you can implement for your brand.
Pro tip: If you download this workbook, you’ll be one of the first people to know about my new project, which means you’ll have access to extra freebies.
Go ahead and download the free workbook here, and I’ll be announcing that special something to you very soon!
*KatyWellhousen.com is affiliated with Sprout Social