Beginners Guide — How to create a Social Media content plan.

1. Getting from “ This can’t be happening to me” to “ I can’t believe it’s this simple “.

What a scary title isn’t it? What if I told you that it’s not nearly as scary in practice as it is on paper…? Well not really paper since…nobody uses paper anymore, except for the people that uhm…do. But hey, you can’t live without paper, can you?! At least not without toilet paper he — he * weird wink. ( Hey, I’ve never been the funny guy in a group, this is as good as my jokes get. )

Silly introduction aside, almost every person on the planet that has tried to create a Social Media content plan, or has heard these three horrifying words subsequently together has probably had the thought “ Ok, time to abandon ship “ rush to his / her head.

But it’s not nearly as scary as it sounds as I said in the silly introduction. The first time I was introduced to Social Media content planning I had the same though occur to me…until I actually opened Google Sheets and created a table ( there are dozens of ready templates you can use, or like me — you can create your own. To be honest mine looked like a 3 year old toddler had been left home alone with a bunch of crayons and a blank white wall, but hey, it got the job done. )

2. How to get started.

First and foremost, what you have to do is decide which social platforms you are going to be present on. Not all social media platforms are suitable for all kinds of businesses. How do you decide which platforms? Answer: Follow your audience!

“ Thank you captain Obvious, like I i didn’t think of that. But how do I find out where my audience is at?! “ — probably comes to mind. If you don’t know where your audience is at, you have a problem to say the least. But don’t worry there is a simple solution to this seemingly scary problem.

Test. Test. Test.

The most simple way to get started is to see on which social media platforms your competition is present, and how well they are performing.

101 Competition spying guide. ( I have a friend of a friend of a friend who’s in the KGB — that’s how I know this. )

  1. Conduct a quick search on all social media platforms.
  2. Follow what kind of content they post on social media platforms. Photos, Videos, status updates and such.
  3. Look out for engagement. Shares, comments and reactions.
  4. Post frequency.
  5. User / follower count.
  6. Create a table in Excel or Google Sheets or a Medium ( pun intended ) of your choice, and write down useful information.

Once you have analyzed what your competition does on Social Media, it’s time to see if we can do what they do, but do it better. Start off asking the following questions.

  1. Can I share content that’s more relevant than theirs?
  2. Can I write content that’s more compelling than theirs?
  3. Can I post more frequently, or more consistently than them?
  4. Is there room to post content from relevant and trusted sources on my social media space?

But not everything is about being better, posting better content etc. There is another approach you can try. Think about what you can do differently. Sometimes doing things from a different angle can make all the difference.

And most importantly, document everything you do.

3. Choose social media goals that align well with your business goals.

Just like everything else in business, your goals across different platforms have to align well with each other. Aiming for new leads on social media, while your business goal is increasing brand awareness or targeting customer retention is probably not going to get you much results.

Being present on social media can also directly help your business goals in many different ways. Here are just a few so you can have a better idea of what I’m talking about.

  1. Increase brand awareness — Being present on social media and posting relevant content consistently will increase your exposure to potential customers. More so, if you create amazing content that’s helpful to a lot of people, your social media followers will be inclined to share your content, therefore greatly increasing your exposure.
  2. Help you communicate with customers — It’s never been easier to connect and communicate with old and new customers. Getting continuous feedback and replying to it is of paramount importance. You can now get instant feedback on Facebook, and reply to your customers directly.
  3. Increase brand trust — Increasing brand trust is easier now, than it was in the past. If you are dedicated to giving value to your customers via social media, in different forms of content you will gain their trust. It’s all about give, give and give now. So be sure to have relevant and helpful content on your social media. It’s almost a guaranteed way to convert followers into customers.

So choose your social media goals accordingly. Choosing the right ones could jump start your business in many different ways.

4. Create a follower persona.

A persona is an imagined person that is most likely to be your follower, or might be interested to what you have to say on social media. It’s better to target less people that are more likely to convert into a customer, than to target a general group of people that have nothing to do with your brand.

It’s not about all the people — it’s about the right people.

The most simple way to do this, is to look at what your Facebook audience likes, and who they are.

  1. Go to your Facebook page.
  2. Open up insights

Now as you can see, my typical follower persona is the following:

  1. Name: Jon Bon Jovi ( Dude, if you are seeing this, please like my page. )
  2. Gender: Woman / Man
  3. Age: 25–34 ( the age groups 18–24 and 35–44 are quite close to each other, and make up for a good percentage, so do not neglect those. )
  4. Occupation: This can be a generalization.
  5. Income: Take the average salary or wage in the industry you are targeting.
  6. Location: This can be a specific location, or a wider area around the target location. You can see this data about your followers just below the demographics chart shown in the picture.
  7. Using the Facebook Audience Insight App, you can also see what pages and what brands your target audience likes.

5. Set your social media tone voice.

It’s important to know how to talk to your social media followers. This doesn’t have to be complicated at all. Just analyze how your followers interact with your brand, and with each other on your social media profiles. While you’re at it, follow your competitors social media profiles to see how you target audience communicates there.

Adjust your brand tone accordingly, and you should be able to communicate messages with your audience better.

Also, pay attention to how your competitors communicate with their followers. See how you can do better, or how you can use your tone voice to stand out from the pack.

6. Choose the right social media platform

This is maybe the most important part, so you should read this sloooowly and carefully ( maybe it’s time for that cup of coffee now? ).

Not all social media platforms are suitable for all kinds of content. Each of them has it’s own advantages and disadvantages, so you will be adjusting what content you post accordingly. This mostly depends on your brand and what you’re trying to communicate to your followers.

credits: CoSchedule

This is a great photo that illustrates what kind of content works on different social media channels. Choose your content carefully!

7. Content creation

When it comes to content creation you should rely on your creativity and the preferences and likes of your target audience. Some advice regarding this step is:

  1. Test what kinds of posts work best for the social media you’re targeting.
  2. Post different content. Make variations with photos, videos and GIF’s.
  3. Post every day, social media sites show your brand to more people if you post more often.
  4. Analyze which time of the day your audience is most active. Usually posting after work hours, early evening is quite efficient, as well as somewhere around 12:00 PM — 14:00 PM, however these numbers vary.
  5. Combine your content with unpaid and paid. For example: only 2% of traffic on Facebook comes from organic, unboosted posts.
  6. When boosting posts, target them at your core audience, don’t overgeneralize.
  7. If you’re posting videos on Facebook, don’t do it over YouTube. Facebook gives priority to videos posted directly on their video platform.

8. Make a content plan schedule.

There are many ready-to-download templates on the internet, however they usually require signing up or registering, and are more limiting than if you make you own. My personal suggestion is to fire up Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel and design it as you wish.

However, if you want a ready one, check out SmartSheet, or CoSchedule.

Another good idea would be to look up how other companies make social media content schedule, and pick ideas from there, while implementing your own according to your needs.

Here’s what I’ve done for mine.

This is a plan I made for my own business. However you might want to consider:

  1. Adding the photos ( content ) you plan on posting to the corresponding day and post.
  2. Add timetables to further organize your plan.

This is just a preview of what’s possible.

Bottom line.

There is no universal rule to what you can, or what you should do. Keep testing different content and different setting, and adjust according to the results you get.

Good luck, and have fun!

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 271,813+ people.

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