A Social Media “Publication Calendar”

A Social Media “Publication Calendar”

Fabulous! You’ve tasked someone with being your “social media manager”. They’ve setup your new social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and a blog (hopefully using WordPress from a hosting provider such as GoDaddy).

They’ve registered and verified each of your business locations with GoogleMyBusiness, which includes Google+. Even though Google is struggling with Google+ (it’s only a quarter the size of Facebook measured in terms of unique monthly US visitors), you know better than to ignore a company with the immense market power of Google. They control 75% of the search market. They provide the Android mobile operating system and there are many times more Android phones than iPhones. They run YouTube, the world’s second-largest search engine (yes, bigger than Yahoo or Bing).

You’ve even asked your social media manager to add you (or any second employee) as an “administrator” to each of your social media accounts just in case they (metaphorically) get hit by a bus. Smart! I’ve seen that happen too many times.

Now what?

shutterstock_375276670I think it’s best to start with a written plan, specifically a plan that addresses eleven key questions about your social media strategy. For the record, I wrote a whole book about planning and the eleven questions (Amazon shortcut: www.bit.ly/social-dave). The most important of these questions is about how to create content of value to your target audience. Remember, “Marketing is not about us; it’s about them.” So says another book called Guerilla Marketing.

Whether or not you create a plan (despite my advice to clients, some don’t), you’ll soon find out that the hardest part of the task is creating high value content, not on day 1, but on day 100. A related challenge is that the best content is likely not in your marketing department. It’s everywhere but there.

A social media campaign is a project that starts now and continues indefinitely. It’s been said that “A journey of one-thousand miles begins with the first step.” Let me add to that, “You’ll never reach your destination unless you continue to take one step at a time.” So how do you do that?

The answer is: A lightweight planning process called a “publication calendar”. It’s helpful whether or not you have a written social media plan. It’s a tactical approach to moving forward strategically.

To get started:

  • open up Excel or create a 6-column Microsoft Word table.
  • At the top of the first column, put “Posting Date”.
  • Label the next column “Social Channel” (meaning Facebook, blog, LinkedIn, etc.).
  • Next column: “Topic”.
  • Next column: “Content Source”.
  • For extra credit (yes optional, but I think incredibly valuable) include two final columns: “Keyword Focus” and “Hours Estimate”.

With this tool in hand, begin by building out your publication calendar for, say, the first two to three months. This requires you to decide on the frequency of posting to your various social channels (think “Goldilocks” – too little and you’re missing an opportunity; too much and you’re overwhelming your audience and struggling to keep your content value high). This also requires to think about where you can find content and who is needed to contribute. You’ll want to get the whole world (as relevant to you) involved. By this, I mean your customer support team, who knows exactly what issues perplex your customers. I mean your sales people, who are aware of countless customer success stories. I mean your partners, who have tremendous business experience and product perspective. I mean industry bloggers, who have their own audiences and would be complimented (and validated) by “guesting” for you.

shutterstock_365334188In this process, you’ll identify the necessary contributors and their associated deadlines, well ahead of time when it’s easy for them to say ‘yes’. After that, just hold them to their commitments (in a friendly way of course) and you’ll have great content!

You’ll also be thinking about how your content relates to keywords (column 5). Half of all Internet traffic starts with a search. The only way to get found by the 77% of searchers who click on organic (AKA free) results is by providing consistent, high-value content related to the keywords you’re targeting.

And finally, you’ll be able to see how much time your social media manager and supporters are investing in content creation. If your measuring what you’re getting out of your social media campaign (Step 11), you can compare to your cost and calculate your ROI. You’ll have the data (and the confidence) to guide your future investments.

Yes, a journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. With a publication calendar in hand, you’ll know exactly where you’re going, with whom, and how fast. All the best in your social media journey!

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