Is there anything more divisive in digital marketing than the subject of social media? From the gurus who swear they can help you build a six figure business, in six minutes a day, with nothing but six Facebook ads and a lot of unnecessary alliteration, to the pros who are equally emphatic in their assertions that social media is a waste of time and will never get you anywhere.
Well, they both are.
As with any aspect of life or business, there are people who succeed at making social media work for them, and people who don’t.
The extent to which a social schedule can help your business depends a lot on your business model, how you approach it, and the quality of the content you put out there, but the short answer is this:
If you’re marketing your business digitally, social media is a huge asset if you use it well.
But how exactly do you ‘use it well’?
That is another complicated question. There are so many factors involved in social media that putting together a genuinely powerful strategy is a tall order.
Fortunately, I’ve been running around the social block for a while now, and I’ve learned a thing or three.
Here’s everything you need to know to plan a seriously powerful social media marketing schedule for your business…
Find The Best Platform And Focus On It
With so many options available in terms of platforms it’s easy to get overwhelmed before you’ve even begun, simply by the sheer volume of choice.
Should you promote your business on Facebook? Twitter? Is Instagram a better bet?
Do you need a vlog and a YouTube channel?
Or should you just join everything, chuck a load of content out and see what sticks?
This is one of those times the ‘throw everything at it and pray something works’ mentality is really not going to work.
There is a huge amount of FOMO surrounding social media – the fear that by not being present on every platform, not signing up for the next ‘big thing’…and the next…and the next… that we’re missing out.
We’re missing out on clients, on money, on opportunities.
The only thing we’re genuinely missing out on is sleep, the time to rest and relax occasionally, and a social strategy that’s actually effective.
Social media takes focus and effort to really be effective.
The more focus you give a social platform, the more effective your efforts on it will be.
That doesn’t mean you need to live on Facebook to get it to work.
It does mean that when you do turn on up a platform it’s important to create the best possible impression and the best possible presence, at the best time possible, sharing the best content possible for that specific platform.
It’s not about being everywhere and doing everything, it’s about being in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing, in the right way.
And every platform is different.
What works on Twitter is currently the exact opposite of what works on Facebook right now.
Instagram requires a totally different strategy again.
And on it goes.
The more platforms you try to show up on, the more you have to manage, the more divided your focus becomes, and the less likely it is that you get any of them working really well for you.
So pick one.
Pick the social platform your ideal clients prefer.
Once you get that one platform working really well then you can think about expanding to another one, but a lot of the most successful marketers out there have one platform they are really present on, and the rest are footnotes in their marketing strategy.
They may have an account with a few automated posts going out, but they’re not truly present, and don’t expect to achieve much from that presence above a bit of a bump in brand awareness.
Pick one platform and give it your absolute all.
Repurpose Your Blog Content
This is the huge secret to a powerful social media marketing schedule that really isn’t a secret.
Don’t reinvent the wheel.
I’ve talked before about the value of multimedia content, and the ways you can repurpose a video into written and audio format to get the most mileage from it. But it also applies to social media.
Excerpts from long videos can be cut and used as short teasers, or even Stories over on Instagram and other platforms with a similar function.
Any content can be turned into amazing social media posts simply by pulling out relevant quotes and using them as Tweets and status updates, or creating great looking graphics to go with them.
You may not realise it, but a lot of the stuff I post is repurposed from my weekly blog.
I create images featuring short quotes and catchy expressions, team them with on-brand photos and graphics, and post them with a written message – often a longer version of the sentiment that’s been optimised for the platform.
If you try to create a social schedule from scratch you’re going to burn yourself out and there’s no need – look at the content you have, both past, current, and future, and use it!
Create Amazing And Consistent Visuals
A huge part of repurposing is mastering the fine art of creating amazing, consistent, on-brand images to go with your written content, and in some cases replace your written content.
I’ve discussed visual branding in detail elsewhere so do check that out, but as you’re putting your social posts together always bear in mind the huge power of great visuals, and the massive importance of remaining consistent.
Using social media templates to create your graphics is an absolute no-brainer. It will save you a lot of time, ensure total consistency in your images, and is really easy to set up using Canva or a similar app.
What you may not have considered is how useful templates can be for the written aspect of your social media schedule. As I said, you should be repurposing your blog content every week to create your social media content.
My social media posts and metadata are all written at the same time as my blog posts.
Remember, your metadata will usually appear in previews when you share links so it’s really important for your social media marketing as well as your website SEO!
I write posts in a document on GoogleDrive and paste a template I created for scheduling and social media at the end of every document. It includes a section for each of the following:
- WordPress URL
- WordPress Meta Description
- Post Title
- Alt Text For Images
- Quotes For Twitter
- Memes For Twitter
- Facebook Posts
- Extra Tweets For Content Upgrade Weeks
- Extra Facebook Posts For Content Upgrade Weeks
The specific aspects of your content marketing template will vary depending on which social media platforms you’re using and the type of content you decide to share.
Once you’ve figured out where you’ll be posting, what type of content you’re using, and how many posts of each type you need, you can create a similar template.
Save it in a separate document with a blank space for everything.
Whenever you open a new document to write a blog post paste your social and scheduling template at the bottom.
Once your post has been written, edited, and checked for typos, go through and copy the best bits, pasting them into each section in your template.
Tweak them if needed so they make sense out of context and BAM! You’ve written a full week’s worth of social media.
It takes me 10-15 minutes, maximum, to write all my metadata and social media posts for a full week using this method.
If I’ve been particularly on form while writing I’ll have highlighted the most important text in bold for emphasis, and this makes it even simpler – just copy out all the text in bold and paste into your social template.
Pro Tip: Note Your Character Limits
Check the character limits for everything and make a note in the heading for each section of your template if you struggle to remember these things.
- WordPress metadata has a limit of 300 characters
- Tweets are now 280 characters
- Facebook doesn’t really have a limit (technically it does, but it’s 63,206 characters so unless you’re posting an essay you’re never going to hit it!)
- Instagram is 750 characters with a limit of 30 hashtags per post (you should NOT be using that many though, see below!)
- Pinterest is 500 characters
- YouTube descriptions are approximately 4500 characters, and titles are 100 (but you shouldn’t really go above 70!)
Work In Video Wherever Possible
Video is absolutely huge in digital marketing these days. If I had to pick a single medium that was more powerful than any other, it would be video.
While it works best in conjunction with written content on your blog, especially in terms of SEO, it’s a whole other ballgame on social media.
Your entire social media strategy can be video-based, particularly if you’re chosen platform is YouTube.
But even if it isn’t, video is becoming increasingly important on social sites.
Facebook algorithms give major priority to pages that post video content.
Instagram is considerably more balanced, but still incredibly effective when video content is included, and Twitter is including it ever-more prominently.
Other platforms like SnapChat are also heavily video-based, so whichever site you’ve chosen, work some video content into your schedule as much as possible.
Go Live Once A Week (At Least!)
If you’re on a platform that has the capacity for live video like Facebook, Instagram, or SnapChat, use it!
Facebook in particular becomes an insanely powerful tool when you’re on Live regularly, and the use of Facebook Live is currently the difference between success and failure where Facebook is concerned.
Once a week, hop on and share a few interesting (relevant!) thoughts with your tribe.You can stick to the theme of your mainweekly blog post or vlog, if that helps, or you can talk about something totally random.
Open the floor to questions and do a live Q&A, or run a training course or webinar right there on your page.
The possibilities are endless.
Even the short versions of Live like Instagram Stories are incredibly powerful, so if you’re brave enough to try (and believe me, I know it’s not for everyone!), get in front of that camera and start connecting with your ideal clients personally.
Use Hashtags To Get Found
Hashtags are incredibly useful when used properly.
They’re not for all sites, but if you’re on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and Flickr, you can use hashtags to effectively get found.
The number of hashtags you use will depend on your platform, but as a very rough guide aim for 2 per Tweet, clusters of 11 for every Instagram post, and no more than 15 on Pinterest.
Advertise Selectively And Don’t Boost Posts
Organic reach has always been the name of the game on social media, and it is absolutely possible to create an amazingly powerful content schedule that doesn’t require any kind of advertising.
If you do decide to advertise, my advice is to be incredibly selective about the content you promote.
The biggest mistake I see people making on social adverts is boosting their regular social posts. This is seldom a good idea.
If you have a really great piece of content like a video with the potential to go viral, that’s going to generate a ton of interest and attract loads of new people to your page then it may be worth giving it a boost with some advertising, but only a genuine advert.
Facebook is particularly bad for giving you the option to really quickly and easily hit ‘boost post’ on any piece of content you have. The temptation to do it is great, and you often feel like it’s been successful because your numbers go up – followers, engagement, reach, all on the up.
The thing is, a proper advert promoting the same piece of content will get you a LOT more bang for your buck!
So be super-selective about what you choose to advertise, and if you are promoting something do it through a highly targeted and well crafted advert, not a quick post boost.
Plan For Consistency
Consistency in your social schedule is hugely important. People get used to you being there and start to look forward to your posts, even if only on a subconscious level.
When people are accustomed to seeing a new blog post, vlog or podcast from you each week they look forward to it, and immediately click through when you share the link. They get used to you popping up in their Instagram feed and pay closer attention to your posts. They get used to you spending 10 minutes on Facebook Live every evening and try to make sure they’re online to catch you.
If they miss you, they watch the replay.
You generate a lot of goodwill by consistently showing up in people’s news feeds and being an active presence.
You also lose that goodwill very quickly if you’re suddenly absent.
If you stop turning up they might go looking for you for a few days, but if you’re not there they’ll soon give up. Your followers might still be interested when you reappear, but if you’re suddenly gone without warning or explanation they’re far more likely to either lose interest, or feel let down.
It’s human nature.
People easily forgot that the businesses they follow have lives of their own, and other concerns.
They also have very short attention spans.
So plan for consistency.
This doesn’t mean you need to plan a schedule that requires you to show up all day, every day. Not at all.
Rather, it means you need to figure out how often you are going to have time to devote to your social media, on a consistent, regular basis.
Scheduling your posts will give you a lot of leeway here, as you can effectively have content going out every day, but only actually spend time scheduling it once a week, or month. But things like live video and responding to comments requires you to actually be there in person.
And as much as scheduled content can be effective, nothing beats real intersection on social media.
It’s called social for a reason!
So how much time can you realistic give your platform?
Whether it’s five minutes a day to scroll through your notifications and reply to comments, or half an hour a week to jump on and do a live video, try to include some genuine ‘you time’ in your plan.
It doesn’t need to be a lot, but it does need to be personal, and consistent.