The other day I was talking with a colleague about marketing, social media and time. She was marveling at all that I have on my plate and wondering out loud about how I manage to get it all done. I told her that I actually created a social media calendar.
Let’s face it. There are multitudes of opportunities to participate online – and I’m not just talking about social networks. There are article submission websites, industry-specific communities, blogs, video, e-newsletters and more. When you choose to interact in a variety of ways, how do you maintain a consistent level of participation? Like any business system, you have to create a structure and live within it.
In my own case, I found that I was not as consistent as I should be. It happens to many of us. We get busy and end up doing the minimum – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. However, that is insufficient. While it can be challenging, it is crucial to have consistent participation so that you continue to establish your brand.
There are some basic steps to establishing the system you are going to use.
1. Decide what you want to accomplish.
This is true with all business systems. Before you launch a program, determine what result you want. This helps you figure out where and how to play. You don’t want to spend time with activities that aren’t going to help you gain exposure, credibility and brand awareness. I say this because it can be easy to get involved with a site simply because someone you know tells you about it or invites you to join them there.
Think before you dive in. Is it someplace that makes sense for your business? Here’s a gauge you can use: Ask yourself, “Will I help grow my business if I spend five hours per week actively participating on this site?”
Now, I’m not suggesting that you are going to spend five hours per week on any single website or platform. The question has the strength to provide you with a clear answer. And it is that answer that will help you determine if it’s a place you should be–a website you should invest energy and time into. When you have a clear vision of what you hope to accomplish, you will have a clear view of where you should be.
2. Determine how you will play there.
Now that you know what you hope to accomplish and where you should be spending time, it is critical that you identify how you will participate. There are two aspects to this step.
a. What should you be doing and saying?
Many sites have multiple opportunities. LinkedIn is a prime example. You can update your status, participate in group discussions, answer questions and connect with people. You need to decide, “Which areas will I work on, and when will I commit to do that?”
Remember, structure makes it work. Some people should be using all aspects of the LinkedIn site, while others might not need to answer questions. Knowing your business and what you want to accomplish gives you the clarity to know what you should be doing and how.
b. How often?
Once you know what you want to do and where, decide how often you should be there. Should you blog every day, twice a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday? Should you schedule tweets throughout the day, or in the morning and evening? When do you send organic tweets? How often should you answer questions on LinkedIn? When should you submit articles to your article submission websites? How will you make sure you are posting your events in all the places they should be, including local media sites? When will you write and send your e-newsletter?
This is the step that prevents you from letting things fall through the cracks. And be honest – haven’t you let things drop because your schedule is busy? I know I have.
3. Get it on a calendar.
Now, take a blank calendar and plot each activity on the days of the week when you plan to participate in the specific places you should be. I find that if you leave it to memory or chance, it won’t happen consistently. And if you put it on your regular weekly calendar, it is too easy to pass over for something else.
However, when you plot the plan on its own calendar, you have something separate and specific that you can quickly refer to. For example, I found that I was not getting my press release for my Internet radio show out in a timely fashion. I know I have to do it. However, as the days would pass and things would come up, I’d push it to the side (if I remembered it at all). And putting it on a to-do list didn’t help either. When I put it on my social media calendar, all I had to do was look at today, see what needed to be done, do it and move on. Liberating!
I added Toodledo to the process so in addition to the calendar, I get an email reminder. This is also connected to my iGoogle page so I see it a lot. That really is the key with a calendar. You have to look at it! I set up Toodledo to ensure that I see the social media tasks I need to accomplish each day.
With everything we have going on in our businesses on a daily basis, staying on course can be a challenge. Challenges are opportunities for solutions and systems. Developing a separate social media calendar can be a simple, yet effective solution to the challenge of consistently participating on the various social media platforms that are of value for your business growth.