In our last few entries, we’ve talked about the first steps of creating a strong social media engagement strategy, and touched on 10 different kinds of content you can use to your advantage. Now we’re going to touch on what comes next: the nitty-gritty details of social media scheduling.
Why You Should Schedule Social Media
While there is definitely always room for live, on-the-fly content, more and more businesses are realizing that scheduling the majority of brand posts ahead of time is a key part of their online presence. And the reasons for that are plentiful.
The biggest bonus is that it frees up your social media time for more engagement, allowing you to better connect and interact with your audience. You’ll lose less time trying to find the perfect post, and you’ll be more efficient with those precious minutes spent digging through comments and messages. It also means consistent content that can be posted at the perfect time of day, so you’ll never wake up in the middle of the night, panicking because your Instagram feed has been empty for a few weeks.
Why you should schedule social media posts (from Pinterest)
Native Platforms vs. Third-Party Management
With all that said, what is the best social media scheduling platform? Can’t you just use the apps themselves, without the hassle of a third party?
Well, not really. Only Facebook allows you to schedule posts, and despite their highly-targeted paid ads platform, their built-in basic service lacks many of the analytics that can give proper insights into your best content. Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and all the rest are also short in scheduling ability, so if you’re active on those, you’ll want to use a social media post scheduler.
There are many misconceptions about third-party scheduling apps that you may have heard in the past. This includes thinking you will get less engagement, that you can’t create evergreen content, or that it is too hard to stay relevant when planning ahead of time. You can rest assured that none of these are true – and thousands of companies use scheduled posting every single day, with no negative effects. Of course, your scheduled stuff is best used with a healthy dollop of trending, instant content when you can – such as Facebook Live streams, Instagram stories, and so on. This kind of social media content plan will deliver both the quality and quantity that you (and your audience) are looking for.
Automatically Publishing Social Media Posts
While there are many guides to be found out in the internet wilderness, you should know off the bat that there’s not a single, “right” way to automate social media content. It will be different for every brand and each platform, but this is a fairly simple guide on how to schedule and publish your posts for maximum impact.
Content calendars can be very simple, yet effective (from Constant Contact)
- Set your goals: are you trying to get more eyes on your content, or more DMs in your inbox? More product sales, or more product feedback? Choose wisely, and base your content around those ideas.
- Choose your social media scheduling software: The internet abounds with options here, ranging from beefy platforms, like Hootsuite and Sprout Social, to specialized ones such as SEMrush and Later. Research which will work best for you, and set it up for optimal service by linking it to your relevant accounts. Remember, it’s best to prep now than to panic later, so take the time to learn the ins and outs.
The Later layout for Instagram scheduling (from Later)
- Plan and create a content calendar: It’s your time to shine! Make your brand voice come through with your content (see our summary of 10 different kinds of content here), and create everything you need to stand above the crowd. Include any links, commentary, images/videos, tags, and hashtags, as well as the date, time, and social media platform you’ll be posting on.
- Automate for the best time for each platform: Everyone knows not to post at 4 AM on a Sunday morning, but it turns out there are times of each day that are best for each platform (and each industry). Use this knowledge to your advantage for maximum engagement and reach.
- Don’t “set it and forget it”: As 2020 has shown, things can change a lot from one day to the next. Always keep an eye on upcoming content and ensure it will not be misinterpreted or seen as insensitive.
- Analyze your data: Once a month or so, you should create an analytics report. The detail will change depending on what social media planner you’re using, but generally, they tell you what’s doing well with your audience – and from that, you can create even better future content.
What to Do After Planning Your Social Media Content
So you’ve got the perfect calendar, you’ve scheduled all your content, and your social media automation is now in full swing. So…what comes next?
Now comes the most fun part of social media management: the engagement! Here’s where you get to answer questions, talk to your audience in real-time, get feedback on your products or services, and discover the latest TikTok trends. It’s not as time-consuming as the other steps, but it isn’t something you want to do just halfway. It’s worth a post of its own, so we’ll be covering it next in our series of blogs about how to create a good social media strategy!