Ok, social media. We are all on it, but it isn’t as easy as we are led to believe. Whether you are on there to share pictures of your dog, starting a business, or sharing your love of books (like us), there is something to be said about good content.
So, if you are looking for help with your social media plan or strategy as you move forward with a blog, for instance, I am happy to help!
Before I dive in, I feel it’s important to say that I am not a social media expert. In fact, I would go so far as to say no such thing exists. Personally, I am always wary of anyone who claims to be such a thing.
The reality of the situation is that social media platforms, especially the popular ones like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, employ an algorithm that no one knows the secrets to. And, even if someone is enough of a smarty-pants to figure it out, I promise you it will change. Nothing is forever on these platforms. Put simply, they don’t want to make it easy.
1. Because they want you to spend more time on their platforms. (More time = more data = more ads = more money)
2. Because they want you to spend money on sponsored/boosted posts.
Yup, I said it. Remember that old adage — nothing in life is free. Even free platforms like these.
Of course, I am not saying it is all pointless. Instead, I am saying you have to work a little harder. After all, there is nothing wrong with putting a little elbow grease into it.
A little more about me: I work in advertising and marketing. On more than one occasion, I have had to create, schedule, and monitor social media accounts for multiple clients. Now, before I got a “big girl” job, I did a couple of internships where my main focus was social media. During this time, I gained a tip or two that I am more than happy to share with all of you!
Ok, so you have selected your social handles, created the profiles, written an engaging bio, and taken a welcoming display picture. Now what?
With that in mind, you’ll need to keep yourself organized by using a content calendar. This is my biggest tip whenever someone asks me how to approach social media. It not only keeps you organized, it helps you plan.
Now, if you’ve done your research you’ve probably come across all these cute content calendars. One thing they all have in common is that they are printed. Ok, that’s fine. But it does make me question their functionality. Simply put, if I want to write down that I want to post on Monday at 2pm on Instagram about my newest blog post, why do I need a fancy notebook? I can just write it down in a typical calendar. Additionally, how does this help me? Does it give me an alert? No. Is the content already written? Also no.
So, what’s the point? Exactly. It’s a waste of money.
How to Create Your Own Calendar Using Google Sheets or Excel
Here is what you do to create your own content calendar:
Pretty simple right? And look, it’s free!
Create the following columns:
Date – Put simply, this will help you know what days you are posting. If you aren’t posting every day, it will allow you to keep track of how many days go by in between posts. Furthermore, this is incredibly helpful if you are using a third party app or website to help you schedule posts. For work, I use Hootsuite (I can’t remember if there is still a free option, but it will have its limitations — e.g. only allowing so many scheduled posts). For my personal accounts I use Facebook Creator (primarily for Instagram). There may be a Twitter option, but since we don’t maintain one for Bibliomavens, I haven’t looked into it. If you have insight into scheduling for Twitter, be sure to leave a comment below!
Time – You will find all kinds of articles online about when the best time to post is. In my opinion, it’s a good starting point but don’t take it as the word of the social media gods. Once you’ve started posting a fair amount, make a point of reviewing your analytics. This will help you adjust your game plan. Again, there often is no rhyme or reason. So, try not to take it to heart when a time doesn’t work one day but works the next day.
Platform – There are people out there that think one caption works fine for all platforms. No, this is wrong. Don’t be this person. Every platform caters to a different demographic. Take the time to do your due diligence and look further into this. I find that Hootsuite is a decent source for this information. Always keep in mind that who you are writing to on Twitter isn’t the same as Facebook or Instagram. Yes, write about the same thing, but I promise you’ll need to adjust the language you use and even your tone of voice.
Notes – This is the first column I begin filling. Choose the days you want to post by making notes like “Blog Review Goes Live” or even “Book Lovers Day”. These notes are a great launch pad. Instead of staring at a blank page, you will have this little nudge to inspire your caption. It also helps fill the week. Social media is a fast paced world. You have seconds to connect with a user. So, don’t be surprised when you find yourself posting every day, multiple times a day. Again, do you research here! There are a lot of great recommendations on how to go about the frequency of posts. You worked hard to gain those followers, don’t lose them!
Content – There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing content on the fly. A lot of us start off this way, especially if using social media is new to you. Though, you will find that it can be a tedious business. If you really want your account to take off, you may need to start planning ahead. Unfortunately, not all of us can make a living off of the internet (but a girl can dream). If you are holding down a job or a family or both, you will quickly find time slipping away from you. I like to plan my content a month at a time, if I can. I’ll find time, like I do to write these blogs, to sit down in front of my Google Sheet and start writing. Now, when I am ready to post, I can copy and paste. This includes my hashtags!
Character Count – If you are going to take the time to write your content ahead of time, it makes sense to make sure it will actually work well. You don’t want to find yourself coping a caption that is too long. Now you are stuck editing it! Well, we’ve just compromised the purpose of this whole thing, right? So, if you are using a platform like Twitter, through a character count formula to help you along. For myself, I like to add this feature to all my platforms to see how long it is. Even Instagram has its limits, though they are longer than Twitter. (Please note: I have found this count to be off at times. Use at your own discretion.)
Formula: =LENS(insert cell number)
For the entire month, I will repeat these columns (horizontally) so I can see how I am posting across all platforms. Mostly, I want to see how I can change my writing style to suit the platform.
Once you have this all set up, you can prepare for next month by duplicating the current sheet and renaming the new sheet. It’s best to do this before you start writing in it so you don’t have to spend time deleting everything.
The benefit of creating all these calendars in one doc for the year is for reference. Instead of having to jump out of one doc into another to see what you did last month, it will all be one click away at the bottom.
Another thing I like to do is highlight my cells. For example:
When my content is ready to be scheduled, I will highlight it purple. That means it’s been edited and is now ready to be put into Hootsuite or Facebook Creator.
When my content has been scheduled, I will highlight it yellow. That means it’s been successfully inputted into Hootsuite or Facebook Creator. I can now forget about it and move on to the next thing.
When a post is doing well and my team has decided to put some money behind it to make it a sponsored post, I will highlight it green. This is one way to help you keep track of how many posts you have sponsored that month. You can even add a column to your calendar so you can input the amount. Anything to help you stay within your budget, which is always important. Just add a formula at the bottom that will help you keep track of your total.
See, this is why it is hard for me to support this printed content calendar. For heaven’s sake, you are using pen and paper to help you do something online. There is definitely some irony there. Use tech to help you with your tech, I always say.
Remember – this is your content calendar. Since I have started using sheets to help keep me organized, I have changed/customized it six different times in the last two years. In fact, it isn’t even the same calendar I was originally introduced to. Don’t be afraid to play around in Sheets to find what works best for you. Add colours, formulas, spaces, and whatever else helps make the work a little less tedious.
Once you have exactly what you want, I promise you will never go back. You may even wonder how you ever managed without it.