When helping customers strengthen their online presence, I start off by asking the main reason why they struggle with social media. More often than not, one of the top problems expressed is the lack of time to write a blog post or share content on social platforms. Unfortunately, without a strategy for social media engagement, those creative ideas that would have developed into insightful messages and blog posts are simply lost.
No matter what industry you're in or target audience you're addressing, content marketing is critical to business development. It's how you engage with current customers and grab the attention of possible clients. Without a steady stream of content to share on your social media platforms, the opportunity to connect and inspire your audience is gone. Luckily, there are several tools your business can take advantage of when it comes to planning and sharing content without taking too much time out of your busy day:
1. Editorial Calendar
One of the easiest methods to planning and consistently publishing content across your social media channels, an editorial calendar allows you to form a content schedule. Choose a calendar that everyone on your social media team can access, navigate and understand. You will be using this calendar on a regular basis, so making it as easy as possible to use should be a priority. Here are some recommended editorial calendar platforms
- Microsoft Word: probably the most basic platform for editorial calendars. There are many templates on Word that are ideal for creating the perfect editorial calendar for your business needs.
- Evernote or Pocket: both platforms can serve as a repository to clip and store articles, ideas and other links for later use as an editorial starting point.
- Google Drive: a free service that houses your editorial calendar and allows you to share the document with others. Access Google Spreadsheet to make your own editorial calendar or take advantage of several editorial calendar templates. An added benefit of Google Drive - you and your associates can access, edit and manage your editorial calendar anytime, anywhere.
- WordPress: the editorial calendar plug-in gives you an overview of your blog and when each post will be published. Users can quickly edit posts, drag and drop to change post dates and manage posts from multiple authors.
2. Social Media Dashboard
For those businesses with a presence on numerous social media platforms, using a social media management system can save time and make sure each platform (and audience) receives the attention it deserves. Tools such as Sprout Social, Hootsuite andBuffer allow users to update major networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn all from one place. Focused on convenience and organization, social media management tools eliminate the need to login to each social media account separately. Simply login to anyone of these management tools and you are immediately shown your social media presence at a glance.
Your dashboard contains all of the content from your platforms - content shared by you, brand mentions and updates from friends, followers and connections. Even better, each social media management system allows you to add numerous users and offers plans that are affordable.
3. Content Scheduler
In addition to the social media dashboard, Sprout Social and Hootsuite also allow users to share content immediately or schedule them for a later time. However, Buffer works a little differently and practically does all of the work for you! Buffer lets users create a repository of posts and messages they would like to share into their content library.
So, whenever you come across relevant content you think your audience will find useful - articles, pictures, videos, etc. - just add it to the content library. Buffer then takes the content and schedules messages to be sent out at times when your audience is most active online. Once the library is empty, users are notified that they need to add in more content.
When it comes to social media, establishing your online voice shouldn't be your only priority; you also want to make sure what you're saying is worthwhile for your business. In addition to their convenience and organizational benefits, social media management tools can also help you gauge whether or not your social media efforts are successful.
Both Sprout Social and Hootsuite offer analytics reports with detailed information on followers, influence, clicks and engagement. The data populated by Sprout Social is formatted into colorful charts and graphs that can be downloaded as customizable PDFs. Hootsuite data is also formatted into custom reports using their comprehensive social analytics tool for measurement. Buffer illustrates how many likes, shares and retweets you get at a glance through their free, detailed analytics on all of your social posts.
5. Keyword Searches and Alerts
Often times, people just don't know what to share on their social media platforms. Easily discover content by setting up keyword searches within your social media management platforms or through Google Alerts. For example, if you want to keep an eye out for news relevant to your financial services firm, create a Google Alert for terms like "erisa law changes" or "personal finance for new physicians". Or, by adding keywords into tools like Sprout Social, you'll be alerted of social posts that include brand names or specific keywords. This is a great way to "listen" online and cultivate expert content to share with your niche market. This also will drive your editorial calendar where you see a need to counter content your target customers are likely to see within these searches.
For some inspiration, you can explore Google Trends and fine tune what keywords and phrases are seeing significant traffic and are relevant to your business and/or niche.
By building an editorial calendar and taking advantage of social media management tools, establishing your online voice and expanding your brand's reach can easily be done in a reasonable amount of time day to day. Focus on fueling your creativity and let these tools do the work for you!