It can be quite time-consuming to find or create the right social media content, post it regularly on all channels and engage with your followers. But there is a way to plan and create your content that can save you lots of time: Get yourself a social media content plan!
It’s a great way to spend less time on social media while making it even more beneficial for your small business. So, follow these steps to get organised, be more consistent and create your own social media content plan.
A life-saver for small businesses
When I started to use social media for my small business I quickly noticed that you have to be pretty organised and consistent to make it work. That’s where my social media content plan – also often called an editorial calendar – was an absolute life-saver.
A content plan helps you:
- focus instead of aimlessly surfing the internet on the search for shareable content
- post at the right time of day to reach as many of your potential clients as possible
- spend just a few hours a month scheduling a large part of your posts for the next month
- have more time to monitor your feeds and engage with your followers every day
And you can be sure that all your efforts are directed at the right people and actively help you reach your small business goals. So, let’s get you started!
Define your social media content plan
1. Your goals
First of all, you need to define your objectives. Without knowing what you’re trying to achieve, it’s like you are trying to take a penalty blindfolded. So make sure to define goals for your social media content plan.
Possible goals for your social media marketing:
- Brand awareness
- Customer service and support
- Customer engagement
- Build a community
- Product development & customer feedback
For example, a lot of small businesses use social media to increase their brand awareness. It’s also a good way to establish yourself as an expert in your field, the person everyone goes to when they have a problem.
Another goal could be, of course, the promotion of your products and/or services – companies that concentrate on sales usually offer special discounts to their followers or give them early access to the latest product updates.
If you have a busy customer service department, social media might be the way to improve your customer support and your reputation at the same time. Be responsive, help out as quickly and friendly as you can, and use your problem-solving skills to grow your business.
Other companies have been known to use social media to engage with their customers. They included them in their product development, let them take part in surveys and really benefited from their feedback. Building a community online is invaluable.
Find out more about the 9 main benefits of social media for small businesses.
2. Your channels
Find out who your potential customers are and where they spend their time online. Are you selling to consumers or other businesses? Facebook is ideal for business-to-consumer marketing (B2C), LinkedIn the best channel for business-to-business promotions (B2B):
- Facebook: B2C, Age: 18 to 64 years (UK)
- Instagram: B2C & B2B, Age: 15 to 34 years (UK)
- LinkedIn: B2B, Age: 30 to 64 years
- Twitter: B2C & B2B, Age: 18 to 54 years (UK)
- Pinterest: B2C, Age: 18 to 49 years
Your target audience is female? Then you should consider using Pinterest or Instagram. Or if you find that most of your audience is spending their time on Twitter, then that’s where you should be.
If you’re confident with video and have a younger audience, now would be the time to consider TikTok! This platform is growing fast among users aged 25 to 34.
3. Your content
The most important part of your social media content plan: There are a lot of different types of social media content. But generally speaking, you shouldn’t promote your business in more than 20% of your content:
- Educate – about your niche, give insights and advice, show off your expertise
- Engage – by starting a conversation, ask questions or discuss a popular topic
- Entertain – by sharing something fun, like a cartoon or a video
- Promote – by giving people a look behind the scenes, share testimonials, offers & services
Social media is all about being social and the times of aggressive advertising and hard selling are definitely over.
To define the ideal content for your social media marketing, you need to find out what your target group’s interests are. What do they value, what are their habits and preferences?
Adopt a tone that is similar to theirs – business-like in a B2B environment, friendly and informal in a B2C setting for example. Use user-generated comments and messages to pick up on the language and style your audience is likely to engage with.
And always keep special events, days or holidays in mind: Are your followers avid retail therapists? Remind them of the next mid-season sale in their neighbourhood. Is there an interesting trade show coming up? Tell your audience all about it and link to the booking page.
4. Your schedule
Remember the tree that fell in the forest but no one was around to hear it? Timing is essential on social media.
You might post the most relevant content on your social media profile. But if none of your followers are online to see it, you won’t get the results you’re looking for. And that’s clearly a waste of your time and expertise.
There are several ways to find out when the best time is for you to post: Facebook and Instagram offer this analysis in their business page insights. There are also several services that offer this for your Twitter feeds – Audiense offer a basic version for free, with a paid upgrade available.
Find out more in my alternative guide on social media timings for small businesses.
5. Your post frequency
Ever unfollowed someone because he or she was posting too much? Yes, we’ve all been through this. So make sure you don’t get more unfollows than follows or, even worse, get reported as spam. Remember – quality over quantity!
Define how often you want to post content on each of your platforms and put that into your social media content plan. The most important thing here is consistency. Whether that’s twice a week or seven days a week, stick to a schedule!
Again, there’s no exact science for this as every channel works differently. But apart from your goals and target group, this is an essential point in your editorial calendar, so have a look at some general stats here.
Now it is time to start your social media content plan and put your planned posts into your editorial calendar. I myself use Google Calendar for that but there are lots of other options out there (here is a great 2020 template as an example from CoSchedule). But in the end, you should end up with an overview of what type of content you’re posting where and when.
The plan is also a great way to make sure you spread the different types of content evenly. You don’t want to end up having all your promotional posts appearing back to back. It also helps you plan when to re-share old blog posts.
Instagram in particular has some great options for planning content in advance. As a highly visual platform, you want to ensure your grid looks polished and professional. Tools such as Planoly and Later allow you to plan out your content and see what it looks like ahead of time.
Get a routine
To get everything done consistently, allocate a fixed time every week or month to prepare and schedule your social media posts. Believe me, it will take less and less time the more often you use your editorial calendar.
These days, with the tools available, scheduling in advance is easier than ever. Facebook’s Creator Studio allows you, for free, to schedule both Facebook and Instagram content. Tweetdeck is also built into Twitter to allow you to schedule your tweets in advance. This way, you know that during a busy week, your content is taken care of. All that’s left is to hop on and reply to comments or messages.
It’s also a good idea to start curating content on a regular basis. Use your smartphone or tablet when you have some time between meetings and bookmark shareable content. It saves a lot of time to be prepared.
Keep in mind that social media is not just about posting content and drawing people to your website. As the name suggests, it’s about being social.
So check your feed regularly, reply to your customers’ questions and share other people’s content if it is relevant to your audience. Instagram or Facebook Stories can be a great place to be a bit less formal and have some fun!
Have a conversation and don’t forget to be spontaneous every now and then. Especially when you’re at a conference, want to share some news or your latest testimonial.
As important as it is to get a certain routine for your social media, make sure to have a look from time to time if your calendar is still up-to-date. If the Covid-19 crisis has taught us anything, it’s how quickly the business landscape can change.
Check the analytics of your profiles, find out if your best times to post have changed and which content was the most popular in the past. Times are changing and, especially online, they are changing fast. So make sure to update your editorial calendar on a regular basis.
If you are interested in reading more about this topic, have a look at these:
4 Types of Social Media Content You Should Focus on
Content Marketing Ideas – A Brainstorming Tool for Small Businesses
Social Media Timing – An Alternative Guide for Small Businesses
Why You Should Focus on Your Social Media Engagement