Social media calendars are an essential part of any strategic marketer's armoury today. In order to plan out content that is both thoughtful for the audience and effective for the brand, you must set monthly objectives, do your homework and plan out your posts in advance.
Just like a regular content or editorial calendar, you'll decide what and when to publish on each platform. As Buzzsumo reports, content saturation is making it harder than ever for marketers to stand out in their customer's feeds. As organic reach continues to decline, the days of arbitrary, disorganized social media posting are behind us.
We have pulled together the top five biggest mistakes companies make in creating a social media calendar and how you can avoid them.
1) Working on the fly without a process
When things get busy it is easy to push working on social content planning aside which leads to getting off track, losing momentum, and running the risk of losing connections you are forming with your community. Not to mention this is inefficient. The start and stop thinking is not best use of your valuable time.
Carve out a day each month to build out the calendar for the next four weeks. Allot time for auditing the landscape, assessing your social analytics, and researching relevant topics and hashtags. You will take a more holistic and focused approach making certain that you are crafting the right balance of meaningful story-driven content.
Social should take the same approach as story. Create a theme for a two or four weeks and guide the audience through the storyline leading up to a promotion, launch, event or big idea. Share thoughtful value-added content to build the relationship so when you are ready to ask for action the audience feels comfortable and empowered to say yes.
2) Prioritizing design before message
Many brands fall into the trap of prioritizing visuals over message. Yes, our content must be aesthetically pleasing, on brand and express the message, but the stories and desired takeaway have to come first.
We create the messages and copy in a calendar with a note about what the visual could be. Once the message is signed off, we then find ways to bring that copy to life through imagery, video and graphics.
3) Only sharing self-serving content
A brand that pushes only their own inward focused content begins to feel pushy and "salesy" - megaphone in hand constantly asking the audience to "look at me". In the age of independence, consumers want content that is customized and meaningful to them. Content that helps to improve their life from various angles not just the brand.
Instead, craft content that adds value to the audience. Help them solve a problem and succeed. In turn, you are building confidence and trust around the brand as an authority subject matter expert. Build in relevant curated content that the audience would deem important and helpful (i.e. industry news, inspiration, helpful tips from credible sources). And then put your brands spin, thoughts and own touch on the post.
4) Ignore all the great data at your fingertips
There is an abundance of data you can access from the social platforms and other monitoring tools that can provide insights on best time of day to post and which content earned the most engagement. A huge mistake is ignoring it and not optimizing your plan.
Take the time each month to look at the data and glean insights. Then apply them to the calendar by adjusting post dates and times, topic ideas, hashtag use, and types of visuals. You may find that your audience likes long, story-driven posts, or your most engaged posts are short and simple. Connect the dots and adjust the direction for higher effectiveness
5) Work in a bubble
All to often social media managers work in a bubble with a belief that they can come up with all the content and news on their own. Not having your thumb on the pulse of your organization and getting the scoop from various departments can leave your content laying flat. Not to mention your biggest advocates (who will help you extend your reach in social) won't get excited about your content because they don't feel connected to it.
Whether you are on the marketing team or working at an agency, as the social media manager you must collaborate within the organization and find opportunities to uncover the "news" and happenings. Set up time to for coffee with key department leads or subject matter experts to gain the inside scoop.
Make Social Planning a Priority
Every small business should be thinking about how to utilize social media to build brand awareness and earn trust. No matter the strategy or platform, taking time to proactively think through your content is absolutely imperative if you want to build momentum and the right brand image. Easier said than done for small businesses that are already slammed with running the business, taking care of customers and mentoring the team. This is why tapping a marketing partner and social media specialists can have huge payoff. The process, tools, and deep platform understanding is already in place. You continue to focus on what your team does best, and leave the social media content planning to a team dedicated to earning marketing results.