Social marketing is one of those tasks that can take a lot of time. However, you can also waste a lot of time on if you don’t have a solid plan of attack. Lack of planning can also result in lackluster posts that no one is very interested in or wants to share. The advantage of creating a social marketing calendar is that you can plan out your posts months in advance. This allows you to hit on themes, holidays and other upcoming events you otherwise might have missed.

When companies engage on social media, customers tend to spend 20 to 40 percent more than when they don’t. Knowing that customers are more inclined to buy from a company engaged in this way makes the need for a plan even more pertinent. There are some specific things you can focus on to create a calendar. This will have the maximum impact on customers and potential customers.

1. Time-Sensitive Content

An editorial calendar allows you to plan out content that has a shelf life and get it to your followers in a timely manner. If you have a product launch coming up, you can schedule posts announcing the exciting new release. Don’t worry, you can always adjust your calendar if there is a snafu in timing or you simply want to share a last-minute announcement. In addition to releases, you’ll be able to plan tweets and posts around major holidays or seasonal sales.

2. History of Past Posts

Perhaps one of the best features of an editorial marketing calendar is that you can see what you’ve already posted about and what you haven’t. Take the time to look through your calendar every week and check for gaping holes in information. Is your company participating in a worthy cause and you’ve failed to mention it or share photos of your employees serving at a local homeless shelter? This is part of your overall story as a business. Having a calendar allows you to see what you might have failed to mention to followers. Also, make sure you haven’t repeated the same post too many times to the same audience.

3. Follow the 5:3:2 Rule

Have you ever spent time with someone who loves to talk about themselves nonstop? It’s awful, isn’t it? If you want to avoid sounding the same way on social media, you should follow a 5:3:2 rule. Share five pieces of content from other sources your audience would enjoy. Then share three pieces of your own content. Lastly, share two pieces of personal, fun or storytelling content to help people relate to your brand. With the 5:3:2 rule, you keep users engaged without trying to sound like you are constantly selling to them. 5:3:2 is all about the content you push out, and less about the promotional end of marketing.

4. Follow the 4:1:1 Rule for Selling

At the same time you are following the 5:3:2 rule, you should also refrain from posting too many specials or “buy my product” type posts. Blatant, ongoing self-promotion is frowned upon on most social media channels. Yes, you do want to push out these types of posts occasionally, but the key to success with them lies in the frequency of how often you self-promote.

The 4:1:1 rule was basically created in regards to Twitter, but can be utilized on any social media platform. 4:1:1 states that every time you post something serving yourself, you should repost something from another person and then four pieces of content from various sources — not yourself.

5.  Build Consistency

One of the keys to engaging your followers and keeping them coming back for more is to post consistently both in frequency and quality of posts. Your readers need to know they can count on you to share the very best content in your industry. Don’t forget to create new content that is on point and to post frequently. Creating a social marketing calendar allows you to create a consistent number of posts utilizing the 5:3:2 and 4:1:1 rules mentioned above. Each week, you can check that you have a nice balance of shared content as well as your own content. This gives readers something fresh to look at each week.

6. Schedule According to When Users Are Online

What if you could reach users when the majority of them are online and engaging with your brand on social media? With an editorial marketing calendar, you can. If you use a scheduling tool such as Hootsuite or Buffer, over time, the program will give you feedback on when your target audience is engaging with your brand the most. You can then adjust your marketing calendar to reflect that data. Let’s say most of your users are sharing and commenting on your posts at 6 p.m. every night. It would make sense for you to push out a post around that time.

7. Study the Internal Data

Speaking of studying the data on when people interact with your content, you also should take a look at what types of content are resonating best with your audience. If they love fun, quirky posts, then you might want to increase those from two posts a day to three or four. Different target audiences will enjoy different types of content. You should also look at whether any influencers are sharing your posts and what the interaction is on those. You want to expand your reach by giving influencers a reason to share what you post.

Something in the Pipeline

In addition to reaching your target audience with the right content at the right time, a social marketing calendar can be a lifesaver when something catastrophic happens. If your employees are all out with the flu, your social media marketing will go forward because posts are already scheduled ahead. This can prevent a loss of momentum, especially for a smaller business that might be reliant on just a few employees to do all the promotion work themselves.

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