Many small businesses know they need to post on social media, so they jump in headfirst without a plan of attack. While this can work, it usually doesn’t. After a while, the social media posts don’t perform well, so the accounts lie dormant and useless to the business.
To avoid this, it’s vital to create a social media content calendar. With a calendar in hand, it’s now time to evaluate your post ideas with these 5 keys of social media:
As you refine your social media strategy with these 5 keys and the responses from your followers (analytics), you will be able to fill your social media calendar more easily with time because you will know what performs well and how to share content that your followers like.
When you’re first starting out, it’s easy to get excited and publish or schedule multiple posts per day. That’s great! But is it sustainable?
Your followers expect consistency. Some brands can publish multiple times per day because they have the time to do so and their followers like seeing their content that often. However, some followers don’t want to see a brand’s content multiple times per day or even daily. It depends on your specific audience. Bear in mind that with the various algorithms for each social media platform, it’s doubtful that many followers will see all of your posts, no matter how often you publish.
Another reason to be consistent is to be relevant. If you publish twice a day for a month but then publish nothing for six months, your followers might forget about your brand because you’re not reminding them about it in their feeds. Most followers will not search for your page to check up on your latest posts, so you need to push out fresh content and images for them. It’s better to consistently publish once a week than to have large time gaps between posts.
The ideal consistency for social media is to publish daily because of the algorithms; it increases the chances of your followers seeing more of your posts. However, many small businesses cannot dedicate the time or money to do this, which is okay. Small businesses can still see social engagement with smaller investments of time and money.
Whatever you can do, be consistent. Start small and schedule posts in advance. A great way to practice this is to schedule an entire month’s worth of posts at a time. Schedule the time on your calendar so you don’t forget. Then, if fun postable events happen, share an extra post that day or save it for next month, depending on the time sensitivity. Also, if inspiration strikes for content or images, take note of the idea wherever you’ll see it the next time you schedule posts; many of our team members have running Google DOCs full of ideas while others use the “idea” or “draft” section in our scheduling platform. This way, you’ll never run out of ideas.
Another reason to start with a social media calendar is to ensure you’re offering value to your followers. Never post just to post. Your followers follow you for a reason, so it’s important to share content they will enjoy. As a small business, you can offer value on your social media pages by sharing free content such as blog post links, tips, motivational images, recipes, coupon codes, conversation starters and more.
Depending on your industry, the value you bring your followers will change. Think about why your followers follow you. If you’re just starting out on social media, review similar pages of your competitors. What do they share? What posts do their followers like and comment on? Can you determine why their followers like and comment on those posts? Is it the content, images or brand voice? Take notes and personalize your findings for your own social media pages. Don’t copy their posts and images, but learn from their success and emulate it.
If you have been publishing on your social media pages for a while, review your analytics. What performs well and what doesn’t? Update your content plans accordingly. If you want inspiration, look at your competitors’ pages. Look at them from the eyes of your followers; step into their shoes to truly offer them value. Ask yourself: What do my customers ask me the most? Then share the answers on social media.
Many small businesses like to toot their own horns on social media and other platforms. While this has its place, most content you share should offer value to your followers, not to your brand ego. Usually, this simple yet challenging shift in focus can improve your social media engagement and your following.
When you are figuring out what value to offer your followers, you are also communicating with them. This is the first step in reaching your followers before they even follow you or engage with your brand.
Communication, like value, doesn’t just mean throwing content out into the online world. Instead, communication means determining the best content to share with your followers, what they will connect with. At first, this is somewhat of a guessing game, which is why it’s so important to know your audience. If you know your audience, it’s easier to communicate with them. But communication isn’t the final destination; next, you want engagement.
Communication is essentially one-sided. You can communicate with your followers, but that doesn’t mean they will join the conversation. However, if you provide value and begin to engage with them, they will engage with your brand.
Engagement might be the biggest key to social media. Why? It can be easy to schedule posts for an entire month and forget about social media for the rest of the month. Small businesses who do this are missing out on the biggest part of social media: engagement!
The greatest purpose of having social media pages for many small businesses is to reach more potential customers and engage with them, starting at the very beginning of the sales funnel. But if your conversation is one-sided (posting but never commenting), then you are missing the best part of the engagement.
If you’re asking your followers to engage with you, you need to engage with them. Are you already on social media personally 5-60 minutes most days? Then reply to comments. Customers love that! Reply to their comments on your feed, and their comments on other brands’ pages and their personal feeds. This is especially easy on Instagram and Twitter, but doable on Facebook and LinkedIn, too. If a follower tags you in a post or story, thank them in a private message and share their post on your feed or stories (if you don’t feel comfortable just sharing it, ask them first in a private message). Then they’re more likely to check out your profile and follow you.
The key to engagement is to add to the conversation, not to sell you products or services. Answer questions, encourage your followers and naturally respond to them. If you have a few followers, you will soon have a few advocates. If you have many followers and can only respond to a few of them, those you respond to will appreciate your feedback.
Time is of the essence when it comes to responding to comments and messages, but even taking the time to do so once per week is better than once per month. Again, be consistent about it. Dedicate a small amount of time to engage with your followers, no matter your schedule. You will reap the benefits over time.
The last key to posting on social media is patience. While most small businesses want instant gratification like their customers, social media is not the platform for this. Instead, it is a long-term solution to the communication and engagement question. Social media is an avenue, a place to meet your customers where they are. It does not guarantee purchases or signed contracts. But social media encourages brand trust because you can share a lot of aspects of your brand and your business on social media. It takes time to build this trust, but using social media is a great avenue to do so because most Americans already spend much of their time scrolling.
Any social media manager or small business owner will tell you that social media pages don’t grow overnight organically or with paid advertising. Instead, the most successful pages have a history of consistency, value, communication, and engagement. They show up often and listen to their followers. They change their strategies accordingly. They make social media a priority, but they don’t put all of their proverbial eggs in the social media basket. The most successful businesses on social media use it an engagement tool, not solely a sales tool.
Armed with an edited social media content calendar to incorporate the 5 keys to social media posting, you are now ready to create drafts. Make sure you edit every draft before scheduling them!