There are so many tools and resources that you can use to plan, manage and schedule your social media. Facebook Groups and forums are filled with recommendations and useful advice but all of this information makes it kinda… confusing!
Even I get tongue-tied when explaining my own process of planning, managing and scheduling my clients’ social media. While it’s not exactly rocket science, there is an art to it! And after years of working with clients and trying almost everything, I’ve found a next-level signature process.
I don’t believe it's as easy as showing up and scheduling a few posts. A lot of strategy goes into successful social media platforms and you’ll notice that the majority of my time is dedicated to planning and aligning with the strategy. In most cases, I spend two hours a week planning, managing and scheduling my clients’ social media posts (sometimes a bit more if they’re having a launch or special promotion).
This process isn’t for someone who wants a quick fix but it’s great for a coach or creative who wants to dedicate more of their time and energy into creating social media posts that are truly aligned with their vision and goals.
So what are you waiting for?
1. Create an aligned social media strategy
Before you even start creating content, you need to have a strategy. I create a new strategy for my clients every three months and it really helps to guide my social media posts and give me direction. Without the strategy, it’s easy to lose sense of your purpose and start creating content for the sake of it.
During my initial strategy sessions with clients, we cover the following topics:
- Business visions and social media goals
- Dream tribe and target audience
- Consistency and showing up on the right platforms
- Creating engaging content
- Branding and messages
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2. Gather ideas and inspiration
Once you’ve worked on your strategy, you’ll also want to consider getting some social media marketing collateral together.
Here are the bits and pieces I love creating for my clients:
Branded quote and promotional templates: Having a branded quote and promotional template makes week to week social media management so much easier and it helps to give your social media a consistent feel. Instead of creating graphics as you need them, create some core templates that you can use each week.
Here is an example from the work that I do with the gorgeous Jo Kendall ...
Hashtag library to use on Instagram: Using hashtags can be incredibly effective at improving your reach on Instagram and hashtag libraries are a great way of doing this. A hashtag library is a document filled with hashtags that you can copy and paste when required. The library is created using hashtag research which you can read about in more detail here.
Swipe file filled with ideas and inspiration: Anyone else obsessed with Evernote? I use an Evernote Swipe File with my clients to help keep track of all the inspiration and ideas that we have. The Evernote Web Clipper makes it super easy to gather ideas from my browser and the Evernote app allows you to add all the screenshots you desire. Notes in the swipe file can includes ideas for: graphics, blog posts, captions, visual patterns, Facebook Ads and so much more!
3. Map your content in a monthly social media planner
So you have everything you need to get started but before you dive into your social media for the week, it’s important to align with the bigger picture. I schedule my client’s social media week by week but before I dive in, I use a monthly social media planner.
The monthly social media planner is designed to be able to plan your content without going into details (like images or captions). It outlines the focus for the month (e.g. Establish myself as a coach for entrepreneurs) and provides space to add special launches, events or promotions that you might be hosting throughout the month.
I use the Facebook and Instagram columns to define the category of each post (learn more about social media categories here) and make sure that I’m sharing a wide variety of content. As a general rule, 80 percent of your content should be informational and inspirational and 20 percent should be promotional. It can be difficult to break these percentages down into a weekly plan so the monthly social media planner is perfect for mapping it out on a bigger scale.
It’s also good for playing with patterns. For example, you might post an informational post each Tuesday and inspirational post each Sunday or perhaps you post an inspirational post every second day and alternate between informational and promotional posts on the other days.
I generally map out a month of content at a time but revisit the monthly social media planner each week to make any changes and anchor into the plan. Want your own monthly social media planner? Download my editable template right here!
4. Gather, source and create images
Once you have a solid plan outlined in your monthly social media planner then you can start gathering the images that you’ll need. I start with the category and then browse for appropriate content.
- Informational content can be found by browsing my clients’ blog posts for valuable information
- Inspirational content could come from a quote they pinned on Pinterest (which I’ll turn into a branded quote image)
- Promotional content could come from an event, blog post or opt-in that my client has created
Once I know what kind of content I need for each post (quotes, reposted images, links to article or blog posts) then I start to source images from Instagram or create images in Canva.
I use my desktop computer to plan, manage and schedule my social media content which can be frustrating when sourcing images on Instagram. I’ve gotten into the habit of scrolling Instagram on my phone, finding an image that I like and switching to the desktop version of Instagram so that I can screenshot it straight to my computer. This means I’m not trying to transfer images from my phone and computer and everything is all in the one place.
5. Putting it all together in a weekly schedule
So you’ve got the images and a rough idea of caption ideas for your posts so it’s time to put it all together. I use a simple table with three columns for the image, caption and time/date (which you can see an example of below).
I keep these tables in Google Drive so that each week’s social media plan is easy to access if I need to. It might be tempting to skip this step and write your captions directly into your scheduling software but I find having everything in a weekly plan reduces the risk of mistakes and ensures all of your captions are aligned and cohesive.
I drag all of the images into the table (in order of time to post), write a caption (including links where required) and then finalise the date and time to be scheduled. This step is about getting everything in the one place and making sure that it’s 100 percent ready to go. While the images have their own thumbnail in the table, I also keep a raw version of them on my desktop and number them in order of posting so that I don’t get confused when uploading to be scheduled.
The weekly schedule is also the document that I send to clients so that they can see their posts, make any changes and give confirmation to be published.
6. Schedule your social media posts
The last five steps have guided you to create a plan for your social media and it’s finally time to implement it and schedule your posts. As mentioned previously, I use my desktop computer to plan, manage and schedule my social media. For this reason, I use Hootsuite to schedule my posts so I can simply drag and drop the images and captions from my weekly plan and schedule for the chosen date and time.
Hootsuite won’t automatically publish your content to Instagram, it will simply send you a notification at the scheduled time. For this reason, I only ever schedule Instagram posts for 9am or 8pm (meaning that I have some sort of routine and the notification goes off at a time where it’s appropriate for me to manually post the photo). Once I publish the post, I hop on over to my notes where I’ve got a hashtag library stored and I copy and paste a set of hashtags into the first comment. Check out this blog post for lots of tips and tricks and a list of hashtags to get your started!
There you have it - my six step signature process for planning, managing and scheduling your social media. I would love to know what parts resonated with you and which steps you’re hoping to implement in your business.
And if you’d love to share your own process then I would love that! I am always learning new and exciting ways to improve my systems and I believe there is so much power in sharing our experiences!