Do you remember the first time you walked into a gym? So many machines, all of them seem complicated, and everyone already seems to know how to use them. It can be so daunting, especially if you’re chomping at the bit to be out there lifting weights and getting strong.
Planning your social media posts can feel like that. There are so many platforms, so many specific little details that you need to get right, and the algorithm seems to change all the time. How do you build a strategy if you're starting out?
The short answer? Start a social strategy the way you would start lifting weights. Go for the five pound weights before you grab the 50 pound ones.
Ready for the long answer? Let’s get into it!
Start with just one platform, and focus on writing posts for that one platform for one hour a week.
Which platform? You get to pick! Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever you're most comfortable with, just set your focus there and don’t get overwhelmed trying to do everything at once.
Next, set aside one hour a week to write your social posts. I'm a big fan of time blocking, and I find that an hour of effort is a good amount of sweat to produce results without totally exhausting yourself. You might only get one or two posts done in that time, that's fine! This is your 5-lb weight here, folks. As you get used to this and do an hour a week, your social media post muscles will strengthen and it will get much easier. You’ll be able to write more in less time.
When you’re deciding what to write, exactly, I recommend making your content to fit into five content pillars.
LEVERAGE CONTENT PILLARS
PILLAR 1: PROMOTION
Promotional content helps you sell your product or service, motivates people to sign up for an email list, or encourages people to check out your site. These are the conversion-focused activities that fuel your business.
A lot of my clients stick to one promotional piece per five social posts, but that's not a hard and fast rule. If your promotional posts are getting a ton of love and engagement, feel free to increase it! Just take a look at your engagement and see what people are connecting with.
PILLAR 2: EDUCATIONAL CONTENT
You know what you're talking about when it comes to your product or service, so don't be shy! Educational content teaches your audience something, and in the process you get to showcase your expertise. Tips of the day, how-to posts, and interesting stats are all useful educational content to add into the mix.
PILLAR 3: COMMUNITY
Nobody works in a vacuum, so be sure you create some posts that highlight the bigger ecosystem your business operates in. Share some articles from your community, highlight industry happenings, and sound off on current events relevant to your field. These posts put you in dialogue with a broader community, and they’re also a great way to show some love to people around you.
PILLAR 4: ENTERTAINMENT
Let's not fool ourselves: sometimes, we go on social media to waste time. On all platforms (yes, even LinkedIn), you see a healthy dose of funny, observational, and jokey content that exists purely to amuse people. Don't be afraid to share some memes, jokes, and anecdotes!
Caveat: definitely do a gut check on how much and what kind of humor to bring. If you work in the funeral industry, for example, your humor is going to look a lot different than if you're an advertising consultant. You already know what's appropriate, so trust your instincts .
PILLAR 5: ENGAGEMENT
The last pillar should be focused on posts that encourage people to directly interact with you. Things like questions, polls, quotes, and agree/disagree statements can prompt interesting discussions. Even just asking for opinions is a good way to get people talking. This type of content is extremely algorithm friendly, because social networks love promoting conversation.
Congrats! You’ve just developed a content strategy for your social media. Once you create the posts, all you have to do is decide when you’re going to post each category and what tool you’re going to use to schedule the posts out.
SCHEDULING YOUR CONTENT CALENDAR
I like to assign my content pillars to different days. So promotional content on Mondays and community content on Wednesdays, and so on. Outlining it like that streamlines the process and helps your hour a week go even further.
Once you get good, you can get your content roughly planned out for the next few months. You don’t have to actually write all your posts out, but you should look ahead and have content focused around specific events and promotions you know you want to tackle.
If you know you’re doing a Valentine’s Day sale, for example, then you would mark down that the week of Valentine's Day is designated for sale-specific content. Then the next week, you’re back making content around your pillars.
We use Airtable to keep track of our content calendar, and we adore it. It’s so powerful and easy to use. But if that sounds intimidating, you can also just use a simple Excel spreadsheet! Just get a calendar going and know when you’re posting what.
CONSIDERATIONS WHEN PICKING A SCHEDULING TOOL
If you want to make your life much easier, do yourself a favor and get a scheduling tool. Luckily, there are a lot of tools to choose from. I’m a huge fan of Traject Social (no secret there), but you have a lot of other options as well, ranging from free to paid services.
Whichever you choose, here are a few considerations to keep in mind.
Not all scheduling tools include all platforms. Instagram and Pinterest in particular can be hit-or-miss, so be sure your tool has what you need before you commit.
Cost varies per platform, but there are free tools you can use. I love Later.com. It’s not fancy and you can only connect two platforms, but if you’re new that’s probably just fine! Don’t forget to take advantage of trials to try before you buy.
Some tools just don’t jive with you! I never clicked with the interface of Hootsuite, for example. Tons of people love that platform (and it’s great!) but I like to have very sectionalized, calendar-based planners, so it didn’t work as well for me. Find a tool that suits you.
Switching scheduling tools can be annoying, so be on the look out for platforms that have the integrations and features you think you’ll need in the future. For example, If you’re only on Instagram now, but you hope to expand to LinkedIn in the future, be sure you’re considering platforms that have both when you pick your scheduling tool. Don’t set yourself up to have to make a switch.
And there you have it! From deciding what categories to post, to actually writing the posts, to scheduling them out on a planner, you’ve just experienced the entire lifecycle of a piece of social media content.
If you want help with your social strategy, check out the Savvy Social School! It’s a platform that has all the information you need to get going with a killer social strategy this year. Plus lessons, done-for-you posts, and a community who has your back.
Check it out! https://savvysocialschool.com/
Andréa Jones is a social media strategist who works with lifestyle brands to build their online presence through targeted social media and content marketing solutions. She's also the founder of SavvySocialSchool.com – a membership community with everything you need to achieve visibility, growth, and engagement on social media.