photo credit: aussiegall via photopin cc
photo credit: aussiegall via photopin cc

One of the biggest barriers for small businesses using social media is the time it takes. Yes we want to blog, to have a Facebook page, tweet, use Pinterest but we also have to run our businesses.

The best way to save time on your social media activities is to create a good content schedule, strategy and plan. You may need to put a bit of time in initially but you will find that the amount of time you spend daily on your online marketing will decrease significantly. If you do it right you’ll also see better results.

The benefits of a content schedule

Time saving

Setting aside a few hours each month to plan content for the weeks ahead will really save you time on your day to day tasks. It’s all too easy to get distracted by red flags on Facebook or notifications on Google+ particularly if you are trying to find something to post. Your content schedule will focus your mind and you are less likely to procrastinate.

Better results

When you put together your social media plan you will define goals and set targets. Once you have those in place you just need to find the content that will help you achieve those goals. Not only are you more likely to see results but you have a yardstick to measure yourself against.

Inspiration

You might think that having a plan is too rigid for you, you like to be spontaneous with your content. I have found that I am more spontaneous and creative when I have a plan in place. Once I have taken care of the nitty gritty my mind is free to wander and create.

Getting started

The foundation of any social media strategy is to define two key things;

1. What do you want to achieve? – Be as specific as possible here. You need to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely). Here’s some suggestions

  • More social media followers – e.g. I want to increase my Facebook Likers by 50% in the next two months.
  • Brand awareness – e.g. I want to see a 50% increase in Twitter mentions of my business in the next two months.
  • More email subscribers – e.g. I want to double the amount of email newsletter subscribers in the next two months.
  • More customer enquiries – e.g. I want to get 50% more customer enquiries via my website contact form in the next two months.
  • More repeat custom – e.g. I want to increase the number or returning customers to my online shop by 25% in the next quarter.
  • More sales of a specific product or service – e.g. I want to sell 250 online courses in the next 3 months.

Once you have set these goals it becomes easier to create a path towards achieving them. It will help you deifne what content you share with what end in mind.

2. Who do you want to reach? – The better you can define your target market the more you will achieve. If your target is wide it’s worth segmenting them and optimising different parts of your campaign for each segment.

Here are some questions you need to ask yourself about your target market to get started:

  • Are they Male or Female?
  • What age group do they fall into?
  • What are their interests?
  • Do they work? If so at what?
  • Are they in full time education? If so what level?

Once you have defined your audience or audiences you can choose the social networks that they are most likely to frequent and concentrate your efforts on them.

Now you have defined your goals and your audience it’s time to start work on your content calendars. Click here to download my templates from the We Teach Social website.

Your Monthly Schedule

A Beginners Guide To Creating A Social Media Content Schedule + Free Template

  • Write each month of the coming year in the first column of the monthly content schedule.
  • If you have any time specific events during those months include those in the ‘Topic & Focus’ section
  • Choose a SMART goal that you would like to attain within that month.
  • Choose a theme for that month that will help you achieve that goal, themes can last longer than a month particularly if they are introducing a new product, benefit or service.

See my example for Spiderworking.com above

Your Weekly Schedule

A Beginners Guide To Creating A Social Media Content Schedule + Free Template

When you defined your audience you made a decision about what networks you should be using, now you have to decide how frequently you are going to post.

Depending on your choices of social network these are some of the questions you need to ask yourself:

  • How often will you blog?
  • How often will you create a video?
  • How often will you post to Facebook?
  • How often will you post to Google+?
  • How often will you post to groups and your status on Linkedin?
  • How often will you tweet?
  • How often will you pin?

You also need to factor in conversation for each of these networks, it’s not just what you post but who you talk to.

  • How often will you comment on others blog posts?
  • How often will you interact with other business pages on Facebook?
  • How often will you comment on content on Google+?
  • How often will you comment on posts in groups you belong to on Linkedin?
  • How often will you get into conversations on Twitter?

With this in mind it’s time to start brainstorming around your themes and the content you are going to create.

Come up with blog titles, video titles, content types that you need to create.

Your Daily Schedule

A Beginners Guide To Creating A Social Media Content Schedule + Free Template

Now you are in to the real detail. Complete the daily content schedule. Define what type of content you are going to publish on what day of the week and to which networks.

For example – Every Monday in March you will

1. post an inspirational photo to Facebook
2. Tweet 3 links to great blog posts you have found on your chosen topic
3. Get into 2 twitter conversations with people searching for info about your chosen topic
4. Pin three articles around your chosen topic

Now you have completed your content schedule keep it close at hand. Keep an eye on those SMART goals and how you are progressing. If you aren’t meeting your goals remember the calendar isn’t set in stone, you should adapt it as you go.

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  • Another great post Amanda, and a timely one at that 🙂 I’ve been meaning to sort out my content calendar for some time now and now I’ve got the perfect template to do so. Right, I’m off to start planning my calendar!

  • Glad to have helped Justin. Good luck with the planning 🙂

  • Alan T.

    Thanks a 1,000,000!!!