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.
Use our social media calendar template to get started!
Great post! I will need to check out this toodledo, I have been looking for a strong (open source) time management application. For now the mix of notepad2 and outlook are doing the trick!
Love the plan you laid out. Most businesses would see 2-3X the results if they created and laid out such a detailed plan.
Quick question – Can you tell me a little more about Toodledo? How does it work exactly?
Thanks for the great tips. I was hoping to see a visual example of your social media calendar. But I found some on Google images. 🙂
Great post – just the type of insight I was researching! Thanks for sharing.
Scheduling things out is so important, especially if you’re working at a small business and have to wear 20 different hats in a given day. One nice thing about the system I’m currently using is that I share some of the blogging and posting responsibilities, so there’s a sort of “buddy system” to accompany our schedule. If I’m late on a blog post or haven’t posted something yet, one of my coworkers will be sure to ask about it or remind me and I do the same for them!
Lyn C. Peek
Thanks for sharing your insight, Diane! This is something I only recently began to struggle with. I was ineffectively hitting multiple targets instead of honing in on the certain areas that would help me best. I plan on sharing this post with other bloggers who struggle with the same thing!
With the new site on tea called TeaParty.nu (nu is now in Swedish) we have created a social media calendar from Monday to Sunday with a dedicated category / topic for each day. I look forward to hear your feedback on this solution when we launch the Tea Party in the near future! Stay tuned! 🙂
Diane, only you can give me such practical advice! Putting something on the calendar is so obvious, yet I needed someone to help me turn that “obvious” into action. Thanks
All great comments. It is such a challenge for small biz owners to juggle everything AND be effective.
Martin – can’t wait to see the site!
Robert – Toodledo has great functionality because you can set up your ‘to-do’ list any way you want. I’ve created categories for my to-dos and have prioritized them – they have a scale you can use. I put a due date on them. And the things that you want to do daily – you can set to ‘daily’. You can choose how you view it, how you receive the list – email or phone, and you can create categories.
It has a free version and a paid version. So far I’ve only needed the free version. It is so great to check off the things I accomplish. THen I can get on with my day knowing those things are done. Does that help?
Kip – if you think about it, everything i talk about is the obvious that I forget and need to be reminded of. Sharing those things is just plain fun!
Love this post. Can’t tell you how many productivity tools and apps I’ve downloaded to help me keep on task. Problem is, I have to remember to go back to them and consequently they just add to the space debris on my toolbar.
Going to give Toodledo a try. Thanks.
Great suggestions, Diane! I like that you specify not only a goal, but exact actions to achieve it and their duration. Process goals are excellent to measure progress and quickly abandon a tactic if it is not delivering what you expect.
There is also another benefit to your plan. Often clients would have a goal with no clue as to how to accomplish it. Laying out the roadmap will not only clarify the path, but sometimes shows that the goal is unattainable. It forces you to think before jumping in.
This was very helpful. I am new to social networking and was beginning to feel overwhelmed by all the information and keeping track of the different things that need to be done. This information will help me to keep track of all the different things that have to be completed.
The entry about maintaining and keeping up with my blog site was very interesting and something that I would not have thought of for a long time I an sure.
Thank you for the helpful information. I look forward to learning more as time goes on.
Great article. It’s a coincidence that it was only today that I made my first attempt at getting all my social media activities. I started out with good old fashioned paper and pencil, printing out one sheet per month per client and mapping out each activities by week / day.
Laborious? certainly, but I like to see each client listed out seperately rather than see all activities together.
Wonderful suggestions Diane!! I am definitely going to follow-up on many of the suggestions. Looking into Toodledo!!!
This is the first system that has really helped me stay on course. It’s the reminders I think that make all the difference. I know I don’t have to try to remember or find the piece of paper because the email comes to me every morning.
TeaParty.nu is now up and running! Here is the weekly calendar:
Monday Open Thread
Thor’s Storm in a Teacup
Saturday Tea Party
I couldnt have put it better myself. One problem that often hinders progress on social media fronts is the lack of consistencies and irregular social media activity. We end up doing too little of one thing and too much of another. Having a calendar and content schedule is essential for the success of an online marketing campaign.