How to Get a Handle on Your Social Media Schedule
You have all these really great ideas on how to keep your brand engaged in social media, yet all those other things you have to do, all those work things, keep getting in the way. It happens to the best of us. The first problem? We have to realize that social media is work, and it should be viewed as part of the work week.
If you want to make strides in social media, you have to make time for social media. And that’s what we’re talking about today – taking control of your schedule in a way that makes social media work for your success, not against it.
Organize Your Social Media Channels and Opportunities
Creating a social media calendar is a lot like creating an editorial calendar. Identify opportunities to engage and create content ahead of time, and fill in the blanks where needed.
Start by listing out all the social networks you’re committed to, and within each one, list opportunities for engagement. For example, one social network’s planning could look something like this:
- Community engagement
Then, in each one of those categories, further define what will comprise them. For example:
- Photos: Staff photos out and about; staff photos in house; event photos for industry get-togethers; event photos for industry conferences.
- Contests: Community-driven photo contest promoting upcoming launch of service.
- Events: Industry events, training courses, executive travel calendar.
- Community engagement: Thought-provoking questions, news items, polls and surveys, commenting on other Fan pages and profiles.
Do this for every social network you engage in. And now you’re well on your way to creating a calendar. Next up is:
Schedule Social Media Communications by Priority and Task
Of your social media opportunities for each channel, identify what items are more recurring and what items have a ‘laxed timeline. Pulling from the example above, you may find that a contest runs only quarterly or every six months; updating events is once per month; opportunities for uploading photos are bi-monthly and community engagement is daily.
Once you have that down, you can begin to think about breaking things into digestible chunks that are part of your work tasks. To build on that idea, remember that social media isn’t just about pushing communications outward, but also about planning for engagement.
Your calendar should also include a schedule of how quickly you respond to your community’s inquiries and conversations by medium. Some mediums require a faster response than others, for example a blog versus Facebook versus Twitter.
You might have a schedule that says something like:
- Facebook responses: By end of business day, respond to community members.
- Twitter responses: Use email alerts to respond quickly during standard hours.
- Blog response: Once or twice daily, respond to comments.
And while we’re on the topic of timing, each type of social network can require a different approach in the delivery time and method of communications. Dan Zarella has done some interesting research on the science of social media, including how timing comes into play.
With some experimentation, you may find that you want to increase or decrease your communications for any given social network, or change the time of day you send Twitter or Facebook updates and so on.
And how you’ll track the success of these adjustments relies on how you monitor your social media efforts, which also requires scheduling. Some questions to ponder are:
- How often will you check in on tracking your metrics so that you can tweak the strategy?
- Do some campaigns and channels require a faster response to the data discovered in tracking?
- How will the data and your decisions affect the social media calendar?
Plan Out Your Social Media Calendar
Now that you know which platforms you’re focusing on and the tasks they require, lay out your daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly objectives for each of your social media channels.
To put it into perspective, organizing your social media schedule may look something like this:
Social Media Channels
Social Media Elements
Decide what part of the day is best for you to focus on the daily requirements of social media. If you don’t commit to a timeline, chances are social media will feel overwhelming and induce serious ADD. If your early mornings and late afternoons are the quietest, try working your social media in then.
What part of the work week makes most sense for you to complete the weekly tasks in your social media plan? Is it Monday? Maybe Friday? Set yourself up for success here. You want prioritize social media like you do all your “to dos” for the week.
Here, you’ll decide at what point in the month is the best time to do monthly updates. I happen to like the first of the month, unless a certain industry event warrants an “off” date. If you have a blog calendar, this is also a good time to do that in conjunction. (Side note: for more information on how to keep fully engaged with your blog community weekly, read my post on managing blog relationships and time.)
Once you’ve got it all planned out, it’s time to add it to the calendar that’s in your line of vision every day, so it doesn’t slip. Here’s a sample of what a social media schedule might look like:
Making social media a part of your work schedule makes it far less overwhelming and way easier to stay in front of your communities consistently. These are my tips for making social media scheduling work, what’s yours? Let us know in the comments below!