Scheduling and Social Media – your new saviour

We’re really lucky here at Burfield to have our own on-hand social media saviour! In fact, our very talented Digital Marketing Director Meg Mosley will be running a course at Goldsmiths University, London about all things social very soon! One of the things that she always cites as the key to a winning social media strategy is the importance of scheduling, so we’ve got her to tell us more through this blog.

If you’ve already read about how to create a winning social media strategy, you’ll already know how much we value scheduling. Planning ahead might seem like common sense, but it really can be your saviour when you’re working in social media. In this blog post, we’ll be talking about why it’s so important, and the best ways to combine being prepared with spontaneity.

So you’ve got your social media goals in place – what does scheduling have to do with this?

As you may have read previously, your first step when it comes to social media success is in the implication of your goals – what you want to achieve via your social media efforts. However, these goals can be wide-ranging, so in order to properly act on them you’re going to need to break them down into smaller campaigns that will go on throughout the year, all working together towards your end objective. These mini-campaigns will each have their own focus, but the same ultimate purpose – e.g. to increase brand awareness/drive sales. These campaigns don’t have to be hugely complicated. They can be as simple as a competition to promote a new product, a scheme to get customer email addresses, or a seasonal promotion. By scheduling these in, you’ll avoid being left one month uncertain of which direction to follow. In turn, this means your social media will benefit from the consistency in voice and quality that comes from proper planning and thought. Scheduling ahead with a certain time frame is crucial when it comes to monitoring effectiveness. Plus, if you’re doing something like a competition, the exclusivity and knowledge that it is for a limited time only will be a key factor in getting people to enter.

Next – putting it all into place

So you know that the next step is the actual scheduling, and thankfully there are a lot of things out there that will help make this process as pain-free as possible. Social media management systems such as Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to link your various social media accounts, and from there you can schedule any posts you want as far ahead in advance as you need. That way, you no longer need to rely on your own memory to post on Facebook or send out a tweet – you can get them ready and be rest assured that no matter what you’re doing, your posts will be taken care of. These programs work just as well for people working in an agency that deals with multiple accounts as well as business owners themselves. Plus, Hootsuite in particular has a fantastic training scheme called Hootsuite University that will allow you to make the most of its services.

We find the best way when it comes to scheduling is to get it all out of the way on a Monday morning. It’s a simple task for any sleepy morning brains, and will mean that you have the rest of the week to get on with all your other jobs. We all know social media is time consuming, but by scheduling a week or two ahead it gives you the freedom to focus on other things. Alternate between your business news, promotion of blogs, products or services, and content that you’ve curated from elsewhere on the Web. The addition of material from other related websites is great, as it gives you brownie points by recommending other websites as well as ensuring that your social media content isn’t too overtly ‘sell-y’. Then, once you know that you’ve got at least a week’s worth of content all ready and waiting to go, you can dedicate an hour or two a day to real-time engagement.

The best of both worlds – scheduling vs. spontaneity

As much as we’re banging on about how important it is to keep a good schedule, we can’t stress enough the importance of real interactions. After all, it’s the whole point of social media – the fact that a customer could ask you a question at any point during the day and get an almost instant response from a real person. The true purpose of scheduling is that it gives you regular content to rely on, before freeing you up to start interacting with your audience. When you’re doing social media day-by-day, it’s practically inevitable that one day you’ll forget something – especially when it’s the weekend! This way, however, you can get chatting with your valued customers safe in the knowledge that your more goal-driven social media posts are taken care of.

It’s all about the best of both worlds. With platforms like social media, the primary focus is that it is a space for people to share their thoughts instantly, and as such for your own accounts to be successful you need to have this human element too. Keep up to date with current events and trends, and respond where appropriate. People like to know that you’re in ‘the real world’ and not just a faceless organisation, so get in on the discussion! Naturally it’s important to employ initiative here, and remember your brand voice and how you want to be seen, but generally it’s great if you can show people that you’re in the loop. A good way to make sure you don’t miss out on new and exciting information about your trade is by setting up Google Alerts to certain criteria. This will notify you of relevant articles etc, so you can really have your finger on the pulse.  Searching relevant hashtags is always a good idea, and if someone is talking about something relevant to your business, reach out to them! These kinds of interactions are what will really make your social media efforts shine.

Social media never sleeps

One of the most important things about social media is that it never sleeps, so you have to plan for this. It’s no good simply planning your updates according to your working hours – they need to be spread throughout the day, evening and over the weekend. Aside from the occasional cheeky Facebook browse during shifts (we won’t tell if you won’t), people are much more likely to be using their accounts after work and at the weekend, so if you never post anything at these times you’re missing out. It’s not always possible to respond to things instantly if you’re not at work, but do it where possible, as the ‘instant’ nature of social media is paramount and customers will always appreciate your speedy replies. No one is saying you have to be on your business account 24/7, but it’s always good to be aware of what’s going on, especially if there is an important query.

The other thing about the constancy of social media is that just because you post something once, it doesn’t mean you can never do it again. You’ll hear a lot of digital marketers waxing lyrical about how ‘content is king’, and rightly so – but don’t be afraid to reuse content. When you’ve gone to all that effort to create fantastic unique content, make the most of it. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter employ complex algorithms that control what gets seen on people’s newsfeeds throughout the day, which means that you can’t guarantee that all of your content will get seen. Don’t let your piece of comedic genius fall into the midst of the endless Twittersphere – repost it a couple of times. Naturally you don’t want to repeat the same thing day after day, but a bit of recycling won’t harm you!

Scheduling ahead can get you out of a sticky social media situation or two(no more backdating Facebook posts sneakily), and let you get on with the fun stuff that makes social media so interesting. What’s not to love?

If you’ve been inspired by this blog and want to know more, you can enrol for Meg’s digital marketing course here.

Image via Camille Rose on Flickr

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