1. Plan a Regular Calendar
A consistent, stable schedule should be a staple for any marketer. Whether you tack it to your wall or include it in your digital calendar, it will help you stay prepared. If you need to deviate, you are free to do that.
How far in advance should you plan? If you’re just starting, start small, then work your way up. If you feel confident, go large.
Here are three possibilities:
- Develop a daily schedule, then post a day in advance.
- Schedule and post a week at a time.
- Follow a monthly schedule.
- Follow an annual schedule.
2. Include Real-Time Updates
Regardless of your posting schedule, you should stay flexible and include real-time updates regularly. Even if you schedule a literal “real-time update” in your account calendars, this will still give you the human touch you need to succeed on social media.
An entirely automated social media calendar won’t give you the interaction you need to stay engaged with your audience. Leave slots for updates or at least include a minimum number of real-time updates each day or week.
3. Create a Content Archive
Always have a silo of content to draw from. You never want to be left without a post, so build piles of created and curated content that you can distribute whenever necessary. No matter how evergreen your content, though, don’t rely on it exclusively.
Always leave room for time-sensitive posts, such as real-time updates and interactions with followers.
4. Follow a Template
Every calendar should be based on a template that you make yourself or that you find somewhere else. Hubspot has a useful template that includes many of the parameters your social media calendar should include: date and time, message, hyperlinks, image, campaign, and so forth.
5. Time it Right
Timing is everything. So don’t post when your users are asleep or working. Do detailed research into social media activity schedules to find out when your audience is most engaged. As we’ve mentioned elsewhere, there are a few rules of thumb:
- Twitterers engage before and after work, for the most part
- Facebook engagement is more stable, but more usage takes place after work
- Different cultures and countries peak at different break times – some after work, some during lunch, and some before work
- Time zone will obviously make a difference
- Late-night and early-early-morning posts can actually earn more engagement because, theoretically, there is less content competition
6. Pay Attention to Your Data
There are many companies out there advising you on the best and worst times to post. Many agree that the peak engagement times occur outside of work hours…but some disagree. In fact, there are a number of conflicting sources when it comes to post timing and post frequency.
The best solution? Pay attention to your own data. Every audience is slightly different, so the ideal post timing and frequency will vary slightly from audience to audience. Experiment and analyze to discover what works best for your audience and your campaigns..
7. Segment by Network
Remember that every social network draws its own crowd of users. Your audience segmentation will vary, so your content should also vary. LinkedIn users will prefer content that is work-related, while Facebook users will prefer content that is more social and entertaining. Twitter may be best served by a healthy mix of the two.
8. Use the Right Tools
Using the right tools for your social media calendar will depend on the size of your company, how many accounts you operate, your posting frequency, and so forth. Social media automation tools are a must, though, whether you are a one-man operation or a 1,000-man operation.
When you do automate, always strike a balance between automation and real human interaction, so you don’t alienate your users.
9. Hack Your Audience
Research is key to understanding what makes your audience tick. You should analyze your campaign engagement, but you should also be scoping out your industry-wide content engagement. Use content research tools to find out what your industry is up to. Regularly this content, data, and information into your social media calendar to keep it responsive and up-to-date.
10. Make Yourself Accountable
Your social media calendar is a part of your social mediaprogram, which is a part of your integrated, omnichannel marketing funnel. Your funnel should include goals, milestones, benchmarks, and metrics that make your campaigns accountable.
These performance indicators shouldn’t just focus on likes and followers, however. They should be tied in to your sales funnel, so you can see what needs improving. Tie your social media calendar into your marketing calendar so you can review and optimize regularly.
These tips will help you make the most of your social media calendar. Whether you are a small business or a large business, having the right social media calendar with the right flexibility will give you the edge you need to stay current with your audience and your industry.