Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn – the number of options we have to engage with audiences on social media is vast and ever-changing. As entrepreneurs, how do we maximize our social media effectiveness, keep up with trends and stay relevant with the myriad of tasks we have on our plates each day?
A planned process.
While in-the-moment social media posts can be fun, they can also be exhausting. The key is to create content that keeps your business goals, keywords and customers’ pain points in mind. While thinking about your over-arching needs as a business, put your customers first and consider what would be most helpful for them right now. Use that information to guide your social media content strategy. Then, work through the plan with these tools.
Four tips for social media
1) Source lists
Where do you go for your information? How do you decide what to talk about or what to share? Creating source lists is a great way to track this information so that you are not constantly looking for inspiration. A source list is a bit of work upfront that aids you in your social media content creation throughout the year.
Think of your source list as a resource that maps out URLs, social handles, blog links or video platforms for said sources. These are accounts that you want to interact with, keep tabs on, visits for inspiration or directly share content.
For example, let’s say Lioness Magazine is on your source list (a great one if your target is women entrepreneurs!) You would add the website and links to all social channels to your source list. Each month, as you sit down to craft content for your channels, you might visit Lioness Magazine’s digital channels to share content or to get ideas for the types of hot topics, questions or insight that other female entrepreneurs are looking for.
I like to group my sources in a few different categories such as:
- General sources and information (think your go-to sources for industry news)
- Membership associations, boards or volunteer organizations
- Partners, sponsors or those with whom you advertise
- Current customers/clients (or former customers/clients)
Source lists work best when added to the same workbook as your content calendar for easy reference (which I’ll get to below).
2) One sheets
In addition to source lists, one sheets are simple documents that you put together ahead of time – a sort of brain dump of ideas pre-content planning. I prefer to do these on a monthly basis. You can use one sheets to plan and keep track of:
- Key holidays and monthly observances
- Speaking engagements, events or company promos
- Blog posts or new content that is going live
- Ideas that come from your team
Save your one sheets as Word documents or Google Docs. Label them by month for easy access. As ideas come to fruition or content comes across your desk, drop that into your one sheet. When it comes time to plan your content for the month, you will have a base from which to start.
3) Content calendars
This is where we really get into planning your content. Whether you have time to plan one week or one month’s worth of content ahead of time, using a content calendar to organize the information from your source lists and one sheets streamlines the process.
Use a content calendar to:
- Plan content ahead of time
- Track scheduled posts
- Highlight tags, hashtags or mentions
- Visualize your content cadence and themes
Spreadsheets work well for basic setup, and you can couple these with third-party tools as well. When planning content, I also like to use resources such as emojipedia (an easy way to copy/paste emojis planned right into your posts), or fun holiday sites like Holiday Insights or National Today. These can also be used as you put your monthly one sheets together.
Within your content calendar, map out the following:
- Post date
- Post day
- Notes such as key holidays, events, promos, etc. that are date-specific)
- Channel (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
- Post text (per channel)
- Post image (per channel)
- The scheduled time (if pre-scheduling content)
Check out some of the example setups here.
4) Scheduling platforms
Once your content is planned, you need to determine if you are going to post your content in real-time or if you will schedule the content to post as you wish. Scheduling platforms can be a lifesaver for the latter. I am a big fan of SproutSocial for both social media scheduling as well as metrics reports and social media listening. Whatever scheduling platform you choose, ensure that you are also able to use channel tags appropriately, choose dates and times for posts and have an easy way to monitor posts as they go live.
It’s important not to ‘set it and forget it’. This is where your content calendar can be helpful. Make note of when content is scheduled so that you can unschedule things as needed, move content around based on real-time events, or go dark completely in the event of high-impact situations. (Think: Capitol Siege, riots, 9/11 … events where no one has any business touting their brands on social media in moments of devastation or nationwide unrest).
Ensure that even if you are pre-scheduling content, that you have someone dedicated to monitoring your channels in real-time so that you can respond – 79 percent of customers expect a respond to social media posts or comments within 24 hours. If you are on the channels, be prepared to engage and response. It is social, after all.
Establishing a repeatable process for social media helps you maintain consistency across multiple channels. As entrepreneurs, we wear many hats, why not ease the burden that social media can sometimes put on us by using tools to streamline the process? Once you have those processes in place, it makes it that much easier to hand off tasks to others on your team – and we all know delegation is key when running a business.
About the author
Melissa Harrison is CEO and founder of Allee Creative, a content marketing agency based in Minnesota. For the past 17 years, Harrison has developed marketing strategies for brands across the globe leading creation, curation and content execution. Her niche is small business, B2B, nonprofit, association, professional services, healthcare and higher education industries. She’s been named a Top Content Marketer and a Top Young Entrepreneur by CMI and Minnesota Business. She also is a four-time recipient of the Hermes Creative Award. Content strategy, processes and timelines are her jam. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram.