5 Steps to Develop Your Social Media Content Calendar for Better Inbound Marketing

2018-06-07-SDC-Blog-Content-Calendar-BlogYour audience spends time on social media. At this point, that statement is true regardless of your industry, target demographics, and geographic location. It also leads to a natural conclusion: you need to promote your business on social media.

Of course, coming to that conclusion is only the beginning. Emphasizing that a business has to be on social media is not a novel statement by any marketing expert. Being successful on social media, on the other hand, is a whole different story.

You have to avoid the common social media marketing pitfalls too many businesses face today. Your efforts have to be strategic, and goal-driven. Each piece of content needs to be engaging and add value to your audience. But none of that matters without one crucial component: consistency.

Why Consistency Matters in Social Media

First, to clarify: we’re talking about consistency in timing for the purposes of this post. Messaging consistency matters just as much, and is worth discussing in its own right. But timing consistency is perhaps one of the most important factors in social media marketing success today.

Almost every major social network, from Facebook to Twitter, has moved away from showing content in a chronological format. Instead, they employ algorithms to ‘rank’ content for each individual user, showing posts to them based on a mixture of recency and relevance. As Forbes points out,

Facebook wants you to keep coming back and to become a daily utility in your life. To keep you engaged, they need to offer you interesting content to read. This content has to come largely from a pool of posts, photos, etc. created by your friends and pages you like.

Recency and engagement both matter. And the most surefire way to achieve both is to post regular content, staying top of mind for your audience and pushing a steady stream of content for them to engage with.

5 Steps to Build a Social Media Content Calendar and Improve Consistency

Now that you understand the importance of consistency, it’s time to consider just how you can achieve it. In isolation, even the best intentions tend to be easily squashed. That’s why it makes sense to build out a specific plan.

On social media and digital marketing in general, that plan comes in the form of a content calendar. It helps you outline exactly what you plan to publish, and when. Take these 5 steps to build your calendar, and establish the framework you need to succeed on social media.

1) Start With a Template

Why start from scratch when you don’t have to? Plenty of platforms, from HootSuite to HubSpot, have created templates that you can download for free to use. They tend to come in a simple calendar form, but allow for multiple networks and other customizations that make them a good fit for your business.

Of course, you can still customize these templates to better fit your business. Share them with the entire social media team on Office 365, Google Docs, or any other collaborative tools your business uses. You can also change and update the template over time, as you get used to building the calendar for the weeks and months ahead.

2) Clearly State Your Goals

Next, find a way to always keep your overarching social media, marketing, and business goals in mind. Even as you build a content schedule for the upcoming days and week, these goals should be clearly visible to make sure everything you post can easily connect back to them.

Again, this step is relatively easy to accomplish. A line or two on the content calendar template will typically do. Some templates even include this section. The goal here is not to refine your goals or expand on them, but simply to streamline your efforts. The more visible the reminder of what you hope to accomplish, the more likely you will be to actually get there.

3) Insert Existing Assets

A full content calendar (more on the timing and volume below) is not possible without compromising on quality without using at least some evergreen assets. Fortunately, every business has these assets. Web pages, blog posts, and existing videos and other visuals are just some of the many examples you can insert regularly into your content to keep producing value.

Don’t underestimate the potential power of multi-channel efforts, either. A blog post deserves more than one social media post. But promoting it might look different on Instagram than it would on LinkedIn. So if you have an established presence on each, why not leverage both channels? Build your calendar with a view on the entire content output, not just an individual social media marketing channel.

4) Leave Space for Spontaneous Posts

Given the above, it’s tempting to build a calendar consisting entirely of evergreens. You can schedule it at the beginning of the month, and watch results pour in during the ensuing weeks. Of course, reality is not nearly that convenient. Without at least some spontaneous and timely posts, you might not get the engagement you’re looking for and need.

Fortunately, it’s easy to accomplish: simply leave some space in the calendar every week. Then, fill out that space as the right timing approaches. For instance, you can link to a relevant external article close to its publishing date, increasing the sense among your audience that you’re on the ball when it comes to your industry’s trends and best practices.

5) Get the Timing Right

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you have to get the timing right. A content calendar works because it helps you streamline that timing, but it has to be based on best practices to ultimately lead to tangible results.

How often you post on social media is one part of the equation. Based on research and best practices, you might only have one slot for Facebook every day but up to 15 for Twitter. Generally, these studies support the ideal engagement rate based on the algorithm of the network in question. Follow it, and your engagement rates will rise significantly.

When you post on a given day is also important. Study your audience trends, and make decisions accordingly. Facebook Insights, for instance, lets you know what time of day your users are typically online. Again, leverage existing studies on ideal social media timing to make informed decisions, as reflected in the calendar.

In many ways, consistency is the key to success on social media. And the best way to achieve that consistency is a content calendar. Start building one today, and you will begin to see tangible business results following your digital strategy.

To learn more about your marketing strategies and find new ways to improve them, give us a call at 661-702-1310!

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