So, you want to leverage the transformative results of effective social media marketing for the business your work for, but not sure where to start? Here we’ll help get you started by exploring how to make a content calendar and schedule your social media posts.

At The Marketing Optimist, we tell the delegates who attend our Social Media Masterclasses that it’s best to post across social channels every day, at least.

After giving us a startled look, we then explain that creating a content calendar enables us to focus our time on this particular task in one sitting, rather than writing and posting content every day.

This is how we carry out social media marketing for our clients.

So where do you start?

Firstly, and assuming you’re working client side, it’s logical to begin by working out the time-frame of each schedule.

For us, working agency side and of course managing our own marketing, we use two-weekly schedules. One week doesn’t feel long enough to us, and would mean our day-to-day would be absorbed by social media duties alone, any longer than two weeks and we feel things are too difficult to plan.

The second thing to consider, is if you’re going to reuse your posts across your available platforms.

Unless our clients specify otherwise (which they tend not to do), we write 14 posts for a two-weekly schedule across a single platform, and then mix them up across the client’s other channels, so on no day will the same post appear twice across each channel.

When you’ve solidified your approach to creating your content calendar, it’s time to build it.

For us, content calendars start and end in Excel, where we build a table per platform, 14 rows down and with 6 columns.

We use columns for Platform name, Date of post, Time of post, Post copy, Content link and Image reference. The last column isn’t essential, but we find it useful when we’re scheduling the content calendar to have the name of the images we’ll be uploading to hand, for ease and speed.

Creating content takes a little planning

A “rule” we like to share for guidance at our Social Media Masterclasses is that your content should be 80% engaging, 20% service posts/selling. This is simply a rough guide, and the ratio may need to change depending on the business, or even the particular campaign you’re working on.

Don’t forget to include any important industry related dates, expos or conferences you’re attending/exhibiting at and upcoming appreciation days and holidays (Valentine’s Day, Black Friday, Christmas etc). Outside content, or content from external sources, still related to your industry, is great to share out too, so make use of these kinds of links.

When posting about the services or products of the business you’re marketing, remember to pick out the company’s USP’s. What problem does the business, or its services/products solve for customers?

When you’ve gained a little experience, you might choose to create larger content pieces. For example, you might use the majority of a fortnightly schedule to release a collection of uniform campaign graphics to market a particular service, or to drive attention to a problem your business/product/services solve. These kinds of campaigns are also useful for lead generation, if you can target the kinds of clients the business you’re marketing sells to (or wants to), across its social channels. We recently experienced success in generating leads for one of our clients via this very method.

There are lots of blogs and websites which explore large content pieces, so should you be stuck for inspiration, a google search should get the ideas flowing.

All social media posts should be accompanied by imagery or video content. Video typically drives much higher engagement, but there should be a mix of both. Posts without imagery or video tend to receive poor engagement and will not maximise return on your efforts.

Ideally, businesses should invest in their own unique photography and videos, but stock images and videos are absolutely fine to use.

How to make a content calendar and schedule posts

Crafting copy for social media

No matter how few business/brands you follow on social media, you’ve likely noticed hugely disparaging styles of writing in regard to the copy used in their social posts.

Burger King make news with their often-amusing social media posts, but very few posts have over three lines of copy. Some posts simply have a hand-full of words accompanying the image. Fazenda, the incredible Brazilian steak restaurant, on the other hand, share some really engaging videos featuring their chefs, blog posts and stunning images of food and cocktails, accompanied by longer pieces of copy.

Is this due to the fact that Burger King is a house-hold name, a brand known all over the world, and a fast-food restaurant we’ve all likely eaten from at one time?

Is it because a meal for two at Fazenda can easily cost over £150, and this kind of establishment needs to build interest and make an impression on potential customers in order for them to eat there?

Or is it related to reputation and image as to why the more refined eatery appear to invest more time, resources and care into each post and content piece? Are we right to assume that Fazenda’s social media is more fleshed out, impressive and aesthetically beautiful to ensure their reputation as a high-end foodie’s paradise remains intact, while Burger King know that general footfall alone will likely bring in business?

Why do Burger King seem to be “saying” so little across social media, while Fazenda’s social media output displays a mastery of the elusive yet perfectly executed covert sell?

When it comes to the copy associated with the social media message you’d like to convey, these are the kinds of questions you need to ask about the business and brand you’re marketing.

If you work for a larger business with established style guidelines, these must carry over to social media, to ensure the organisation’s messaging is consistent and coherent across the board. If your business doesn’t have these guidelines, try to match the tone of voice used across the business’s website and other written collateral.

For further copywriting tips to inform your social media marketing (and writing generally), our recent blog could be very useful.

How to use Hashtags

At this point, a little research is advisable to ensure you use the hashtags that will help you reach the maximum number of people.

To do this, head into each of the platforms the business utilises, and begin to search for hashtags, noting the “reach” of each hashtag.

Remember, whilst reach and engagement are paramount, these hashtags do need to be absolutely relevant to the business and the post itself.

When you find the hashtags you want to use, make a list within your excel file. We find that for many of our clients, we’re able to use the same hashtags across each platform, but this isn’t always the case.

Social Media Scheduling

Thank goodness for schedulers! Without them, there’d be little point in producing a content calendar at all, as you’d have to post your messaging natively within each social platform.

Using tools like Hootsuite, which is our scheduler of choice, we can achieve increased productivity by scheduling the posts ahead of time, leaving our desks and minds clear for other work.

While free versions of Hootsuite are available, we recommend signing up for a business account to ensure you’re unburdened by the limitations of the free version and benefiting from the platform’s useful features.

Hootsuite is easy to set-up and connect your social platforms to, and lots of help can be found via the website should you need it.

When scheduling, schedule one post per platform. We recommend you complete scheduling all posts across a particular social channel before moving on to the others. Meaning you should schedule all posts across Facebook, then repeat the process for twitter etc. Selecting multiple social channels to send a single post to, is unadvised.

When your social accounts are connected to Hootsuite, choose “new post” at the top of the screen, and paste your post into the composer.

Next add the link associated to the post. These links should refer back to a relevant page of the website of the business you’re marketing, or links to outside sources, such as news articles, blogs, YouTube videos etc.

Add your image next, and then paste in your hashtags in front of the link.

At the bottom of the composer you’ll see the key feature, the ability for you to pick a date and time that your post will go live across the selected platform. Select the date and time you’ve noted down in your content calendar and click schedule.  See, it’s easy!

If we can help you with any of your social media marketing challenges, get in touch today via the contact form below.

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