Imagine that you own a dog grooming company. By 8 p.m. on March 22 you’re finally finishing up the last bit of work for the day. Then you remember that the next day, March 23, is National Puppy Day – an enormous marketing opportunity for you. You scramble to gather pictures of the puppies you’ve groomed and you throw together a few social media posts. You know that if you’d planned ahead of time and used content scheduling, your content could be a lot better, but it’s too late now.
This is where content scheduling can save you. By having a digital content plan laid out weeks in advance, you can schedule your content ahead of time and know that everything is flowing as it should, no last-minute scrambles necessary.
Follow these tips for creating a digital content strategy so that you can knock content scheduling out of the park.
1. Markdown important dates
Ask yourself which dates are important for your business, and add those to your calendar first. Important dates may include the following:
Company and industry events, like conferences
Interviews or podcast appearances
National calendar holidays (Christmas, for example)
Social media holidays (National Puppy Day, for example)
Webinars or training sessions you’re holding
These are the dates that aren’t going to pop up out of anywhere – you know about them far ahead of time. This means you can factor them into your content scheduling with plenty of time to spare.
2. Plan far in advance
Your digital content strategy can be created just one month ahead of time, but why not make your life even easier and start planning for the next three or six months, or even the entire year? By having the basics down on the calendar now, you’ll know which gaps you need to fill in.
Also, knowing the content that you need to post in the future will clue you into the images, copy and videos you’ll want to start gathering. For example, if you know in January that you’re going to celebrate National Puppy Day in March, you’ll take a snapshot of any puppies who come into your pet grooming salon, then file them away in a folder titled National Puppy Day. Before you know it, you’ll have all the content ready to be scheduled.
3. Use a content calendar
For some reason, a lot of brands and marketers attempt to create a digital content plan without actually usually a content scheduling calendar. A calendar is the best way to stay organized, though, and to track what you’ve scheduled so far and what you have left to schedule.
A content calendar includes the following information:
Important dates to create or curate content for
The content that you’re going to publish
Time of day you’ll be publishing
Which social media platforms you’ll be publishing to
Having a content calendar that includes all of this information means you won’t have a mix-up when it comes to your content scheduling. For example, you may not want to post the same exact photo on both Facebook and Instagram, or you may want to spread your posts out to be an hour apart on Pinterest.
Having all of this information on your content calendar means you won’t have to manually check your automation tools every time you wonder what, when and where you scheduled your content.
4. Add content creation deadlines
Knowing what you want to post, when you want to post it and which social media platforms the content will go up on is great, but when will you actually sit down to create and schedule that content? If you aren’t making yourself create and schedule your content in advance, then you’re still rushing at the last minute to get everything set up. It’s hard to maintain a consistent, quality brand voice that way, and it’s also easier to make mistakes when you work in a rushed manner.
Consider adding deadlines to your content calendar. This way, you’ll know what you need to post and you’ll also know which content you need to create on a certain day. Eventually, you may find yourself naturally creating the content well ahead of time, but in the beginning, it may be easier to stick to a schedule if you have deadlines written down somewhere.
5. Create a routine
Content scheduling performs best when it’s reliable. Your audience likes to know that you post a new blog post every Monday at 8 a.m., or that you create new Instagram Stories every weekend, or that your Pinterest account is always going to be refreshed with new images or infographics. Yes, you can throw in the random posts here and there, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of your regular posting routine.
You may also want to change that routine if you think you can get better results by posting more or less frequently, or changing up the number of posts per platform.
Your content schedule will help you with all of this. You’ll be able to see which areas are working best and which trouble areas need improvement. Once you’ve settled into a cadence that seems to work for you and your audience, a content schedule will make it easy to stick to it.
6. Handle certain content on-the-fly
Not every single aspect of your digital content plan can be planned, created and scheduled with weeks or months to spare. Some of your content will have to be created in-the-moment or on short notice.
This is true if you find yourself at a great event that has to do with your industry, for example, one that you didn’t plan on attending. In this case, you could quickly check your content calendar to make sure nothing is going to be posted in the next hour, then create a Facebook Live video to tell your audience about the event.
Also, in order to keep your content timely and relevant, pay attention to what’s happening around you, in the news and in your neighborhood. When appropriate for your brand, comment on what’s happening.
7. Keep several slots empty
You know that you’re going to have some content that you have to add in late in the game. Where is this content going to go if you already have a completely filled content calendar?
The solution is to always make sure that you leave enough space in your content schedule to add in these last-minute posts. Keep slots empty so that you don’t have to go crazy rescheduling a bunch of content just to fit in a few new posts this week.
Have an idea of the minimum and maximum amount of daily and weekly posts you want to have per social media platform. Then, plan ahead to fill in the minimal amount of slots, and keep extras open, enough to reach the maximum amount of slots.
For example, if you know you want to post to Facebook a minimum of three times per week, but no more than twice per day or a total of seven times per week, you can schedule those three minimum posts ahead of time. Then, the week or two before those dates, you can start filling in the empty slots until you reach your max of seven posts.
8. Track content scheduling performance
You may have a spreadsheet for tracking and analyzing your stats or a more advanced way of doing so, but it’s also a good idea to take note of the dates in relation to performance. For example, you’ll want to to know if your CTR had a big boost during a particular social media holiday, or if your reach was smaller than usual during a specific national holiday.
Make notes on your content calendar about notably good and bad performance days, and use that to plan out future content dates. You’ll know which dates to schedule more content around, as well as when you can go lighter on content and maybe only republish older content instead of creating it new.
9. Share everything with your team
A digital content strategy should be shared with everyone who is a part of it. Content scheduling is a big task to handle, and it’s a lot easier if you collaborate with others. Plus, collaboration means you may get new, creative ideas you wouldn’t have thought of on your own. By hosting the content schedule on a cloud platform, like Google Drive, you can have everyone see it, make changes and updates as they schedule content, and offer suggestions, all in one place.
If you want to continue expanding your reach and growing your audience, you have to approach content scheduling in an organized way. Your blog and social media strategy and plan are necessary if you want to continue improving your content and maximizing your impact.
In addition to being the editor at designrfix and writing about tech, web and graphic design among other subjects, I love “unplug” and be outdoors hiking and enjoying nature. If you can’t reach me, it’s probably because where I am at doesn’t have cell phone reception.
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