With an effective strategy underpinning it, content marketing via social media can achieve incredible results!
Platforms, trends, influencers and audiences are forever changing and developing, which means your digital marketing campaigns need to evolve and adapt to keep pace. In this article, I’m going to focus on content management and the benefits of integrating a content calendar and scheduling tools into your social media process. With these essential tools and tactics, you can formulate and implement a successful digital presence for your brand. So without further ado…
Understanding the Benefits of the Content Calendar
It’s best practice to keep all your content in one easy-to-manage interface, so you can track and assess the performance of your killer social media strategies.
We all know that publishing consistently is a must. And with a scheduling tool, you can do so with confidence. For example, if you’re called away from the office at short notice or you have a week packed full of meetings, you can schedule your content days, weeks or months in advance, giving you peace of mind that your campaigns will not suffer. This flexibility means your schedule will be able to cope with any last-minute curve balls.
Clients, colleagues and other stakeholders will also be able to jump in, make changes and evaluate progress, which is particularly useful for publishing sign-off procedures.
Being able to manage your time more effectively is another bonus. Scheduling in advance means you can free up time to focus on more urgent tasks as they arise. It also helps to ensure important dates and national holidays are included in your posting schedule – you don’t want to miss out on a hashtag campaign! Creating or referencing an existing hashtag in your posts is a great way to introduce some personality into your company profile.
Are you part of a content team? Scheduling platforms enable you to keep up-to-date and allocate tasks (e.g. copywriting or content sourcing) to relevant team members, and it’s a great way to keep an eye on brand tone of voice and continuity.
Where to Start?
Before you begin, establish which platforms your target audience and communities use, and identify the type of content they engage with most. By evaluating the competition’s social media activity, you can gauge which platforms and content are getting the most interaction within your sector.
How to Create THE Content Calendar
I find a robust table structure works well to hold large amounts of data in an easy-to-read format. List your platforms and dates, then input your copy with links, images etc.
Once you’ve decided on the calendar style that works best for you, you can start adding the fields you wish to include. Below are some basics to help you get started…
- Company Name
- Date/Time to Post
- Destination Platform
- Post Copy
- Post Type (blog, image, video etc.)
Remember: ALWAYS credit an image which requires attribution – to learn more, read HubSpot’s useful blog.
You might think about evolving your content table to include fields for tracking engagement levels and any money spent on paid ads. If you’re not ready to create your own calendar, there are many online templates available for download, which you can test drive and tailor to suit your needs.
Most importantly – keep your calendar clear, simple and up-to-date!
Also, consider how often you’ll be posting and how far in advance you’ll need to schedule. Do you want to plan a week or month in advance? I tend to look no further ahead than weekly or fortnightly as that means I can keep my content fresh and adapt it in response to the engagement we receive. This way, I can ensure I’m delivering the kind of content my followers actually want to read, which helps me establish meaningful KPIs that will make a real difference to the brand.
Social Content Calendar Tools
My preferred option is a spreadsheet on Google Drive. I manage several social media channels across multiple client accounts and I like to have each client’s schedule in the same document, with each week’s activity on separate tabs. This saves time in finding, opening, reviewing and editing past, current and future schedules.
My second option would be a branded text document, with embedded tables holding the weekly social content broken down by day. This format is easy to use and can be e-mailed on request to clients. It’s also easy to export and send as a PDF.
Windows/Mac and Gmail calendars are also a viable alternative. They make it easy to schedule and share content calendars with your colleagues, set reminders and repeat events. Take a look at Hubspot’s great tutorial on how to create and manage a content calendar within Gmail.
Hootsuite also provide a range of social media templates which will help you get up and running in no time.
Social Media Content Scheduling Tools
Scheduling tools allow you to publish content, interact with your followers, monitor campaign performance and analyse data all from one convenient dashboard.
Each platform does things slightly differently to the next; some offer free registration, others require a monthly fee, but the range of tools and functionality available should mean you’ll be able to find a platform that meets your needs.
Sign-up Tip: Before signing a contract, take advantage of a free trial to see how the platform performs and accommodates your scheduling requirements.
Here’s a quick overview of some of the most popular scheduling tools out there…
A popular platform for publishing content to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. There are monthly fees for Deluxe, Premium and Team accounts, but you can get a 30-day free trial before parting with the pennies. This dashboard is a great tool for in-house social media management. Enterprise and Agency solutions are also available for managing multiple accounts and businesses.
More than 3 million people are using Buffer, including successful brands like Business Insider, so it’s obviously a popular choice. Pricing ranges from free to $10 for individual monthly subscriptions, and more advanced features for agencies range from $99 to $399 per month. As you’d expect, compatible platforms include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest.
Another popular choice, Hootsuite offers basic functionality for small businesses. You can subscribe to a free basic membership or pay a monthly fee (starting at $10 per month) to access enterprise-level benefits. You can learn everything you need to know via Hootsuite’s social media training programme.
Tweetdeck’s dashboard is aimed exclusively at managing Twitter accounts. Why? Because it used to be owned by Twitter. Its intuitive dashboard is similar in design to Hootsuite, making it a great alternative if you’re only active on Twitter.
Word of Advice: Whenever possible, use Facebook’s built-in scheduling system, as posts published through 3rd party scheduling software can fall foul of Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, which will reduce the chance of your post being seen in someone’s news feed.
For digital marketers who are assessing the available options, check out G2Crowd’s blog where they discuss their favourite social content scheduling/management tools of 2016. It’s a great read. I’d also recommend Jeff Bulla’s blog where he’s put together his favourite social media management and scheduling tools in a convenient list.
I hope this glimpse into my social media scheduling process has given you some ideas and provided some valuable insight? If you’ve been inspired to create your own content calendar and have any questions I can help with, please get in touch. Also, if you’d like to add your own tips and suggestions, please leave a comment below – it’s always nice to learn some new tricks!