How To Plan A Powerful Social Media Marketing Schedule
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.
And if you really truly genuinely don’t have time for chatting with your followers, or simply can’t stomach the thought of doing it, hire a professional to handle your social media for you.
Get someone you trust, who can comment under your name or the name of your business, creating the illusion you’re there, even when you’re not.
If that feels ingenuine, simply let your tribe know you have help managing your social and introduce them to the person they’re speaking to. You can even have them interacting under their own name, rather than yours, it’s entirely up to you!
Post The Optimal Number Of Times For Your Platform
Figuring out how often you have time to consistently post is half the battle. The other half is posting the right number of times for your platform.
These numbers change, so be aware that what works best now might not always be the best tactic.
For example, a few years ago the more you posted to Facebook the better your engagement grew. The opposite is now true!
Here are a few basic guidelines to help you.
Beyond this, trial and error will get you a long way!
Twitter and Pinterest
These are two platforms where the ‘more is better’ policy still stands.
Twitter have recently rolled out updates to their algorithms that penalise repeat content, and blocks that prevent you from posting duplicate content too close together.
Not long ago you could reuse your Tweets regularly and it worked incredibly well.
Now, it’s better to operate a ‘one time only’ policy.
Even so, the more often you Tweet the better, so aim for multiple posts a day and vary their type – use some with links, some without, some with images, some without, some with hashtags, some without.
Variety is the spice of life!
Pinterest also benefits from multiple posts a day, and even when you’re not posting our own unique content spending time pinning relevant content to curated boards will also help. If your profile is relatively new or still finding its feet, the more you do the latter the better!
Facebook is somewhat problematic at the moment. Aim for a single daily post, ideally with a great image.
If you’re going to post more than this, make additional content video, but again, limit it to one per day so that your content is not competing with itself for exposure and engagement.
1-3 Images per day seems to be the sweet spot for Instagram at the moment. I often post one in the morning and one in the evening.
The more you post the more traction you will get, but it’s important to make every image count.
Use high quality captivating images, ask questions, tell stories, and get on Live whenever you can.
YouTube is the aberration of social media as you can post as often as you like and it’s never going to reach a point where people feel you have too many videos.
This is largely because the number of videos they see is always limited, unless they choose to click through and look at more.
So whether you’re posting once a week or 50 times a day, your presence in people’s news feeds is exactly the same.
A weekly video is the minimum you should be doing if you’re trying to get real traction on YouTube, but more is better.
Despite the ‘no limit’ nature of it videos are very time consuming to create so focus on quality above quantity.
Find The Optimal Times Of Day To Post
No matter what kind of content you post or how often, make sure it goes out at the best possible time of day.
Analytics can tell you a massive amount about this, and while there are certain times that can be statistically seen to work better on different platforms, it largely depends on your niche, your audience, and where in the world the majority of your tribe are.
Use your insights on your existing content to see when the most people are online, and look at the times your most popular content was posted to see if the time of day had anything to do with their popularity.
Refresh Your Research Once A Month
Once a month check back in with your insights to see when the most people are online, what kind of posts are performing best, and whether there’s anything you need to do to improve the types, frequency, and times of your posts.
Schedule Your Content
If you want a complete content scheduling solution that lets you do (pretty much) everything in one place, check out my post on scheduling your content like a boss.
Here’s the caveat: social platforms are becoming increasingly resistant to scheduling apps.
Facebook recently updated their algorithms and now penalise posts that aren’t scheduled directly through Facebook.
The good news is, their scheduler is free and super-simple to use.
The bad news is it means going through Facebook directly rather than doing everything in one place.
Do What Works For You
Social media has the power to be incredibly beneficial to your business if you’re sensible about it.
Just remember, the options may be pretty much limitless, but you are in total control of where you post, how often, and what kind of content you put out.
If you hate the thought of video, don’t do it.
If you only have time to post once or twice a week, don’t push yourself to do more, just make them really count.
Above all else be consistent, both in the way you show up, and how you look when you do.
Want to get a content marketing plan in place to help you maintain momentum and exposure online? Book in a consultation with me here.
Strategic Optimisation + Growth consultant for lean start-ups and change-making entrepreneurs enabling them to grow their business in a sustainable and profitable way. My super-powers are business optimisation, CX, SEO, and leveraging data insights for business growth. #fuelledbycoffee