Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, Vine… the list goes on and on. At some point, you might begin to find that you are overwhelmed by the amount of platforms you need to be active on and the amount of time you spend creating and sharing content for each of those networks. It can sometimes get hard to keep your head above water, but it’s really important that you find ways to manage your time, otherwise potential customers will come to your social sites, see that you’re not active, and doubt your capabilities. It’s a harsh reality! Even though as business owners we want to spend more time doing what we love and less time on social media (though for me, it’s the same thing!) – unless you’re actively creating and sharing content on your social media networks, it will be hard to gain a customer’s trust.
The best way that I’ve found to keep myself on track is to create a content calendar. Literally mapping out a month at a time, everything I am going to post and when I am going to post it. I sit down at the beginning of a month and make time for all the various posts I’ll put across various networks. Now of course, this is completely customizable based on your preferences and bandwidth. Maybe you want to take it just one week at a time? Maybe you want to be more general than specific? For example, you could plan, like I have, that every Tuesday you will draft a blog post and schedule it to publish on Wednesday. Or, if you want to be more specific, you can specify “Draft post about content calendars.”
Really, this is just a tool to help you see, at a glance, what it is you need to be doing and the frequency at which you should be doing it. Here’s a look at how my calendar reads for this month:
You can see I’ve assigned a date and time to every task on the calendar. Most of these times are a sort of guideline – if I don’t tweet at 10 am every day, the world isn’t going to end. And, of course, these can’t be strictly rules when we take into consideration things like real-time marketing, news reporting, interactions with fans and the like. There’s too much human interaction needed to schedule down to the last detail, but giving yourself a set of structured guidelines will help you get your bases covered.
I created my content calendar using Google Calendar. There are a few features that I absolutely love about this.
- It syncs to your iPhone calendar. There is nothing better than being able to look at all the pieces of my day and being able to plan for them. I can see my Dog Breath tasks, my day job tasks, friends’ birthday, and any “after school” activities I have planned for the evening. It’s fantastic that it syncs up perfectly with the rest of my calendars.
- It sends you a reminder half an hour before your task. I have my alerts set to half an hour – you can select a different amount of time or opt not to be alerted at all. For me this is a very important feature because I tend to get wrapped up in projects. I start doing research for a client, and next thing I know, it’s tomorrow and I forgot to eat dinner. Not any more!! :) This reminder system keeps me on task. I can get push alerts as well as email alerts (which is handy if my phone is put away and I’m slamming away at my desk).
- It fills in the holidays FOR you. Now this seems like a silly thing – after all, everyone knows when Christmas is – but it’s actually super helpful that it fills in holidays for you. This allows me to see before I even start filling in my own tasks, where the holidays will lie and what I’ll have to do to get ready for them. I can plan to create special content around it. Never again will an important date sneak up on me! I’ll be in the know at the beginning of the month, with relevant content ready to go.
I definitely suggest coming up with a system that works for you. It may take some trial and error, but really being on top of all your various social media platforms and making sure you are allowing yourself ample time to create and interact for/with said networks will help you use your time more efficiently and in the end, will vastly improve your social media marketing overall. Hope it helps you as much as it’s been helping me!