Social media marketing is a key part of the digital marketing mix and has been for some time now. Even so, many of us still struggle with creating engaging, relatable, consistent content for our social media accounts. It’s not a lack of creativity or flair we have that in abundance! It’s putting these ideas into a reliable content plan so we know why we are creating the content, when we are going to post it, who it’s for and what we want to achieve.
The more content we produce and share without this direction often means wasting time and the content not having the expected impact.
Of course, it’s okay to post content on social media in the moment or reactively, in fact, some brands only post content reactively, that’s part of their plan or strategy, the key is they still have a strategy that includes a set of guidelines (or not).
Social media content planning has a long list of benefits not just the time-saving factor and so i’m going to show you how to create the simplest of social media plans that even the most overwhelmed marketer or business owner can use without getting even more overwhelmed!
What are some other benefits of creating a social media content plan?
I already mentioned this but again:
“A Sunday well spent means a week of content.”
Deciding on what content to post and when to post it in advance will inevitably save you time in the long run…and time is money, after all! If you review your content and plan regularly, dedicating perhaps just one day a month to it, you could really maximise the potential of your brand’s social media presence. Plus, you’ll start every day with one extra thing boxed off your to-do list.
Generate amazing content ideas
Content planning not only helps you plan when your content will be published, but will also help you to generate high-quality content ideas. If you’re the kind of person whose mind is always buzzing with great content ideas, note them down in your content plan to use when it comes around to your planning day. Rather than pushing content out as and when you think of it, this planned approach will allow you to refine your ideas and invest the time needed to turn your ideas into truly memorable, professional content.
Review what content works and what doesn’t
A crucial part of generating amazing content involves identifying the content that isn’t so amazing. By reviewing which content has gained high levels of engagement and which content has not, you can determine what kind of things your audience are really interested in seeing and engaging with. Reviewing this at least once a month will allow you to ensure that your brand stays relevant and your marketing techniques remain effective.
Identify and utilise special dates
Identifying which dates are meaningful to your target audience is a great way of engaging with your customers. With a solid content plan which schedules in date-specific content, utilising these special dates becomes much easier and guarantees that you remember them!
Identify and communicate your brand personality and values
Creating a content plan really allows you to reflect on the core values and personality of your brand. Once you’re sure of who you are, customers will be more confident in your brand, and your personality will then shine through in your content.
Identify and optimise your target audience
You may already have an idea of who your target audience is, but when was the last time you sat down and actually looked at the demographics of your followers and consumers? Reviewing your content engagement and followers through a social media content plan is a great way of ensuring that your content really is relevant, engaging, and tailored to your audience.
Diversify your content
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and find yourself producing the same kinds of content on your social media platforms. But this type of content may not be the most effective; your audience may even be getting tired of it. A content plan will help you to identify issues like this and ensure that you are diversifying your content to include high-quality images and great copy as well as gifs, videos, website and blog links, live content and more.
Review and set marketing goals
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Based on reviewing and scheduling content through your content plan, you can set broader marketing and business goals to help you to continue expanding and improving your business.
These are all great reasons to create a content plan right?
I have put together a very, very, simple guide to creating a fool-proof social media content plan! I’m using my easy Social Media Planner system.
Where do you start with a social media content plan?
Getting started is always the hard bit, but once you are in flow and have your systems in place content planning becomes super easy and falls into place.
First of all, let’s start with your goal. Before you begin any marketing activity always have a goal in mind, ask yourself: how does this activity align with my goals?
This is ultimately the most important part of any brand – after all, you wouldn’t exist without your customers!
It’s crucial to first define who your typical consumers are – we’ve dedicated a page to outlining your customer avatar right at the start of our social media planner.
Start by asking yourself the following three questions:
What needs does my typical customer have? How does your business fulfil those needs?
What does my typical customer look like? This includes their average age, average income and most common location.
What motivates my typical customer? Sometimes it’s discounted, other times it’s personal customer service – it’s your job to find this out.
Once you’ve identified your audience, it’s important to decide on, or remind yourself of, who you are as a brand. If you don’t know what your brand personality is, how are your consumers going to know?
To help you with this, consider thinking of your business as a person. If it was a person…
What would they sound like?
What would they be like?
What would their interests be?
How would they talk to people?
To achieve this step, use the dedicated ‘business personality’ section in our social media planner, where you can choose three key traits of your brand personality to always adhere to.
Now let’s start looking into the content we’re actually putting on our social media. We all know that consumers crave quality content on their feeds, but what does good content actually look like? Try and think about creating content that…
A good content creator understands the art of capturing their consumers’ attention. Your brand or business’ goal should be to create content that makes your customer’s thumb stop scrolling and take notice. Evoking a reaction like this from your consumers is difficult in a social media world that is saturated with high-quality content, but it’s certainly not impossible. The most important thing to ensure is that you’re using high-quality creatives: for example, if you’re using an image, video or gif, make sure that it is the clearest, most unique and most powerful image, video or gif you think of.
Contains actionable elements
Wherever possible, your content should be actionable. Actionable content is content that drives your audience to take action/s that you really care about as a brand. For example, you could create actionable content by sharing articles or blogs from your website, including a link to a sign-up form, or asking your audience to comment or engage with your post in some way.
In general, simple posts with clean creativity are best at capturing an audience’s attention. Your brand can easily achieve this by adhering to a clean and consistent colour scheme, using brand-recognisable imagery, and keeping text minimal, concise and impactful wherever possible.
Consistency is crucial when you’re trying to establish a loyal and engaged audience or fanbase. Using a distinct brand style, a consistent tone when talking to customers, and posting regularly and consistently, all help your customers to build trust in your brand.
Is recent, relatable and memorable
Showing that you are relevant is key if your brand is to thrive in an ever-changing social media market. Keep up to date with what your competitors or others in the industry are offering their audience so that you can stay on-trend and ensure your content is relatable. Memorable content – content that relates to your typical customer’s life and interests in some way – is even better, as it encourages them to believe that your brand truly cares.
Now we know what the aims and effects of our social media posts should be, it’s time to consider how we can achieve this. Here are just a few ideas of the kind of content you can start posting to really engage with your audience on social media:
Run a giveaway
When a gift is at stake, your brand incentivizes people’s active participation. You may also want to announce the winner to your audience so that they become incentivized to participate next time you run a giveaway!
Sharing your brand’s testimonials (in moderation of course) will allow your audience to celebrate your achievements with you. This helps to create a sense of community amongst your consumers which can be an incredibly powerful asset to your brand.
Ask for feedback
Show that you value your customers’ opinions and insights by asking them for their feedback.
Ask your audience
Asking your audience can be a fun way to engage existing and potential customers. You might want to do this by using the ‘poll’ feature on Instagram stories, for example, to allow customers to engage with the brand, but without putting them on the spot.
Pose a question
Ask your audience: how are you feeling today? What are your plans for the weekend? Asking these kinds of questions on a regular basis shows that you really care about your customers on an individual level.
Share industry updates
Sharing updates from your industry allows you to show that you truly care about keeping your customers informed about current topics which are relevant to their life, their career, or their interests.
Celebrate special dates
Which dates are considered ‘special dates’ will vary depending on the needs and interests of your audience, but they might include dates such as: National Best Friends Day, International Women’s Day, World Kindness Day, or Chinese New Year. As part of your audience profile, consider identifying which special dates may appeal to your target audience and scheduling these into your content plan.
Want to save time, be consistent and reach your business goals?
Using everything you’ve just looked at above, try putting together a full content plan to help you decide on everything your posts need to be: from visuals and wording, to what days and times posts are going to be published.
Here is the simple layout you can use to create your plan the headings include: Date, Channel (social media channel), Theme, Visual (image or video you’ll use and the caption. You can add more columns too such as call to action, links and so on!
So you know the sort of content you want to post and have scheduled it into your content plan. But what is the best way to actually create that content?
My go-to for content production is the graphic design platform Canva. Using Canva, you can:
Create a template for your brand to use for all of its social media posts – this helps to ensure consistency!
Use images that represent your brand, whether that’s by creating your own content (which is ideal, as these images will be more recognisable to your audience) or using high-quality stock images if you really must!
Finally, it’s all well and good creating consistent content, schedule posts via your content plan, and engage with your audience. But how do you know if what you’re doing is really working?
In order to keep track of how your content is actually performing, use an online Analytics tracker (such as Google Analytics) and keep a written record of the results in our social media planner’s designated Analytics Tracker section.
This will allow you to track how much reach and engagement your posts are getting, thus informing and enhancing your future content plan and marketing strategy. You may also want to keep an eye on which days or times your content is most successful, as this will allow you to schedule posts for optimum times in the future.
Congratulations – you’re well on your way to completing your social media plan!
How are you feeling?
I hope you’ve found this content-planning guide useful. But remember, your social media plan doesn’t stop here. This is a long-term solution, achieved through using a Social Media Plan which delivers results and allows you to reach your business goals. You can use excel or a tool like agora pulse to plan and schedule content too. (get 2 free months agorapulse here)
You can also take the full social media content planning course in the Digital Women members club which is also CPD accredited. (free for members plus homework)