Originally published in July 2016. Updated July 2019
We aren’t just throwing content out into the social sphere with the hope that someone will read it and be suddenly inspired to buy something, right? I hope that isn’t your perspective, because it’s a great way to fail. You are creating content that expresses your story, your business, and the value you bring to others.
When you have a specific goal for your marketing with a content theme, you are developing a marketing campaign. Consider all of the different ideas you have for your social media content: how-to posts, fun facts, inspirational quotes, FAQs, top 5 lists, etc. What is the purpose of these posts? Are there areas of commonality among those pieces? Those are your overarching themes or campaigns. When you take that concept and focus it on just social platforms it becomes social media campaigns.
Karen’s Kitchen is an online store for the best cooking materials, recipes, and even a digital cooking teacher. Karen wants to reach a new audience by using her social media channels – Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Her goal is to drive traffic to a specific page of the website where visitors can sign up for a free online cooking demo (lead generation). She brainstorms some ideas for creating interest in this new product idea and comes up with some exciting concepts such as 15-second video clips from her demos, photos of recipes, and tips for better cooking.
After brainstorming, Karen realizes that all of her content is around learning how to cook Southwestern food. Well that’s certainly a theme! So her campaign theme is Cooking Southwestern Food at Home, and she creates a calendar spanning 45 days with content every week.
Once you’ve come up with a theme based upon an industry focus, a speciality you offer, a specific pain point you alleviate, etc., then you can scope out the details and create a plan. Consider using Google Calendar or iCalendar as your cross-channel company-wide promotions calendar that includes all upcoming events, blog posts, emails, social media posts, and press.
Start with a high-level overview of the 45 day social media campaigns (get the example here). It is broken out into three tabs. One tab is an overview of the whole year with holidays, campaigns, and big content deadlines. Then there is a weekly overview where you organize your social media post on each date. The third tab is where you can put ideas to reduce your work.
Up through this step of our social media journey you have accomplished quite a bit. You created social media goals and decided where your content will come from. Then you took time to do some research and run analytics on your social media content to see what the story is before you jump into publishing content. Then you brainstormed some content ideas to properly expresses your story and your business within an overarching theme, called a marketing campaign.
Now you have to decide how social media marketing fits into your work schedule. What is the social media process for your business? How you will write & publish content? When will you make time to interact with your audience?
There are a plethora of online tools that help you to stay organized and manage your social media marketing from one place. You can pause to do a quick search for the term Social Media Publishing Tools to figure out your options first. Demo these available tools, especially the free ones (Zoho Social, Buffer, Hootsuite, and Everypost).
I like using Zoho Social and Hootsuite because both platforms allow me to do “social media listening” using their streams/monitoring. Many people like that Buffer tells you the best times to publish based upon your history and that it connects with other platforms, which Zoho Social can do as well. Everypost is unique because it’s the ability to create your own RSS feed within it and search for content on YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.
When you schedule time for social media, take into account the time you need to brainstorm, organize, write content, review it, and schedule it. My recommendation on timing is to allow one day a week (such as Friday morning) to write and schedule content for the following 5-7 days. On the other days of the week, just do a quick check-in to review if anyone made a comment, reply, etc so that you respond.
Make sure that whatever content you plan for social media posts aligns with everything else you’re doing. If you have blog posts, events, press releases, or any other outward-facing activities, make sure they align with your social media posts. This is where your content calendar will come in handy. It’s one of the keys to a strong social media process for your business.