In my last post I discussed four kinds of social media content that are generally successful on social media. In this post, I want to take your social media content implementation to the next level.
One of the emerging buzzwords in corporate social media is “content schedule.” This isn’t a new concept, neither is it particularly complicated. However, as companies venture deeper and deeper into social media’s broad territory, it is becoming more and more critical to have some kind of overarching framework from which individual channels are managed.
After all, when you’re talking about managing multiple social media channels, each with its own set of unique needs, requirements, and content, things can get overwhelming quickly and pretty soon channels start to go unwatched and unloved. Creating a content schedule helps with this, because it allows you to see in a discrete and orderly fashion what content is needed where.
It also allows you to see relationships between channels, like when you need to follow up a killer blog post with an equally killer tweet. So here you go: this is my system for coming up with a social media content strategy. As with pretty much anything I post here, there are a million ways to go about it. However, these are the things I’ve found to be the most effective to think about when creating a social media content schedule:
- Channels – First of all, think about where you want to manage your brand’s presence. With hundreds of social media channels available, you can’t manage a presence on all of them, nor would you want to, since your customers (both present and future) are probably only congregating on a few sites. The obvious channels to talk about here are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and MAYBE MySpace or LinkedIn. However, there are so many smaller niche networks, that you might find a great little gathering of perfect prospects on some obscure site. So how do you find them? There are a few ways, some more expensive than others. First, you could pay for a social media listening tool like Radian6 or Techrigy SM2. Just punch in your brand terms and see what pops up. Another (free) option is to look at referring sites in your site analytics. Keep an eye out for good amounts of traffic coming from social media sites. Finally, do a search on Google for one of your main keywords and in the left-hand column, select the “latest” option to see the latest real-time search results. That can let you know where conversations are taking place. Browse a few pages, get a feel for volume, and look for surprises (like a niche social network).
- Frequency – Decide how often you’re reasonably able to post to each channel. Be realistic, and then set a goal slightly below. Believe me, it’s easier to start small and realize that you have enough content to bump your frequency up than it is to start too fast and then realize that you’ve run out of things to say. When starting a blog, for example, I think having the goal to post just once a week is a great idea. It’s easy to expand that number if necessary, and you don’t feel as much pressure in the meantime. Sooner than later, you’ll get the hang of the blog thing and get some company-wide help (hopefully) and then you can bump the frequency up a notch or two without causing yourself to burn out.
- Content – This is the magic part of the calendar where you get to decide what gets posted where. While I’ve already written about types of content to post, you have to tailor that content to the various channels you’re calendaring. Also, here’s a tip for populating a content schedule quickly – come up with themes (hopefully pulled from either your business goals and needs or your SEO keywords, or both!) and then turn them into recurring features. For example, if you sell snowboards, on the first Tuesday of every month, you might write about the board of the month. That way, every first Tuesday, you know what you have to write about. This has the added benefit of building expectations with your readership. So keep an eye on which recurring features get no comments and shares. Drop them and keep trying to fill the space with new ones that are more engaging. A little trial and error later, and you’ll have a killer lineup of recurring content that your readers are anxiously waiting to consume and share.
- Help – Once you know what your content needs are, you can start looking around within your company for people to help you create said content. Believe me, your life will be easier and your content more engaging if you can vary the source from whence it comes. If you’ve got a series on shoe design, find the biggest clothes horse you know and ask them to create some stuff. If they’re passionate about it, they should have no problem coming up with some content that speaks to other enthusiasts in an authentic way, and that’s the kind of content that gets shared and reshared.
- Flex, Rinse and Repeat – As with anything scheduled, your content plans will be thrown awry. People will miss deadlines, emergencies will crop up, and new ideas will occur. Don’t be afraid to adjust the schedule to accommodate them. That’s one of the gifts of working with social media; you have the ability to be incredibly flexible. If you find yourself making the same adjustments repeatedly, make it permanent. Just make sure that the schedule works, or you’ll stop using it and it will have been a colossal waste of time.
So that’s it. That’s my magic advice. Do you use a publishing schedule, and if so, what do you do to create it?