Having a consistent presence on social media allows your brand to be seen and discovered by potential customers. However, more is not always better when it comes to publishing on social media. You want to stay in the audience’s mind, but you also don’t want to post so frequently that you overwhelm their feeds and potentially drive them away.
Determine the frequency and timing of posts
How frequently you post on social media depends on a number of factors from each platform and how it works. For example, Twitter gives its user the option of viewing their posts in a chronological feed. When users customize their feeds, the stream displays the latest published content. Platforms with chronological feeds, posting multiple times a day gives you the opportunity to reach your target audience in different time zones and at various points throughout their day.
You’ll need to plan the frequency of your posts differently on primarily algorithm-based platforms. Social media algorithms are a way of sorting posts in a user’s feed based on relevancy rather than the order in which they are published. That means these platforms prioritize which content a user sees in their feed first by the likelihood that they’ll want to see it.
For algorithm-based platforms like Facebook and Instagram, it’s better to publish quality content less frequently, as too many posts can result in a droop in engagement. On these platforms, your posting cadence will vary depending on your brand. The frequency that works best for your brand might be once a day, but for others, it could be several times a week.
These are just general guidelines. Finding the best frequency to post will require some trial and error. How often you post should also be informed by testing and analyzing your results and the resources available to you.
You also need to think about their timing. The optimal time to post on a given platform will vary. Posting first thing in the morning is generally very effective because this is when people are catching up on their social media feeds. It’s also good to post around lunchtime because people tend to have a gap in their schedules. Just after working hours, is also an effective time to post because people like to find out what they’ve missed throughout the day.
To find the best times to post for your brand specifically, you need to consider several factors. First of all, you want to find out when your target audience is active online. By researching when your followers are on a particular platform and then posting at those times, you maximize the chances that your content will reach them. Make sure you consider your target audience’s time zone and schedule your posts accordingly. You can also decide when to post by analyzing your best-performing posts from the past. Review the times of day and the days of the week you posted successful content to determine if you can identify any patterns.
You should also consider seasons and holidays. For example, consumers tend to be more likely to book a vacation in January. If you’re a travel brand, this is a good time to post appealing images of travel destinations. You should also consider current events when planning your posts. If a national disaster or conflict occurs, for instance, you should be prepared for unscheduled posts to be sensitive to these events or add a post to show your support.
The news cycle in the age of social media is fast-paced and ever-changing. The story might break on Twitter while the discussion might suddenly end. To keep content remain fresh and interesting to your audience as the news cycle on social media is important.
The importance of real-time marketing
Real-time marketing (RTM) is marketing that is happening in real-time. RTM is often implemented on social media because of how quickly commentary and engagement take place there. If millions of users are talking about a big story on social media, brands will want to be a part of the conversation in an attempt to boost engagement. Capitalizing on these moments can have a huge payoff for brands that do it right. Real-time marketing is an opportunity for companies to connect with their audiences and position their brand wherever they want in certain discussions.
Effective RTM can be incredibly powerful for your brand. To successfully market in real-time, your content must be:
- Relevant: what is happening right now? What is most of the discussion about on social media at this very moment?
- Clever: How can you package your content in a way that shows your brand’s personality and wit?
- Fresh: If the trending topic happened Wednesday and you weren’t able to turn around a piece of content until Thursday, is it still fresh enough to get engagement?
- On-target: Is this trending topic or current event of interest to your audience?
- Attention-grabbing: What will it take for people to see your post, stop scrolling, and engage with it immediately?
Always be listening. A company’s social media manager will typically be the first to know about trends that are relevant to any real-time marketing plans, so keeping communication open with the social team is important. If you are a member of the social team, aim to be present on social media as often as possible so you can catch any trending topics that might be worth capitalizing on.
Use your brand’s resources. If you have a design team and a copyediting team, enlist their help to create quick, clever posts of the highest quality possible.
Leverage social media influencers. If your brand partners with social media influencers, ask them to help amplify your RTM assets by reposting them or interacting with them.
Know where the conversation is happening. There will be moments that happen on one social media platform that may not be a topic of discussion on others. Make sure you engage in a conversation where people are talking about it.
Promote some of your posts. Since algorithms determine when and to whom your organic posts are shown on different platforms, your RTM post may not reach a large enough audience in time to still be relevant using organic means alone. This could be a good opportunity to promote the post to generate more engagement and potential new followers. A promoted post is a social media post that you pay the platform to make more visible.
Use a social media calendar
Once you’ve determined the timing, and the frequency you’d like to publish content on different platforms, a social media calendar can help you keep all of your posts organized and scheduled. This saves you time and enables you to maintain a consistent posting schedule.
By planning posts ahead of time, you can make sure that there are no upcoming coverage gaps. A social media calendar allows you to organize all of the content for your Posts in one centralized location. It helps to ensure that your content assets such as images, videos, or links are attached to the correct posts. Social media calendar can be shared with other stakeholders, to have them review or approve your posts before they go live.
Planning ahead of time allows you to plan around cultural and national events, and holidays that are important to your customers. For example, you might plan to post to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, International Women’s day or Veterans day depending on what feels relevant to your organization.
You can build your calendar in a spreadsheet or even a table pasted in the document. You can start with a template, you can even use social media management software to build your calendar. Some of the elements in a social media calendar are:
- The date and time the post will be going live
- The topic of the post
- The platform where the posts will be published
- The posts written copy
- Links to any assets such as photos or videos
- Any related documents or information.
Once you’ve chosen a format template or tool, you can start developing your calendar. First, identify the social media platforms you want to post on. Previously we discussed some strategies for how to do this. Knowing where your audience spends most of their time online, can help you decide on platforms and create platform-specific content strategies.
Then review your current social media platforms and content, and assess things like what type of posts get the most engagement. When your audience is most active online, and what tactics have been most successful in the past? This will help you identify areas for improvement and new opportunities.
Next, decide what data you want your social media content calendar to track. Social media calendars can be used to keep track of information like platforms, dates, times, text, visual assets, and links to published posts. You can later use the data you collect to analyze trends, track what works and doesn’t work, and refine your social media campaigns.
Then make a content library for all your assets such as images, videos, and audio files. You can organize your assets in a file storage system like Google Drive or Dropbox and add links to them in a spreadsheet or document. Then you can easily share these links with other team members and insert them into your calendar.
You’ll also want to establish a workflow and review process, and think about when and how often you’d like to post on each platform. Who will review and approve content and how you will develop new content, now you’re ready to start crafting and scheduling your posts. Getting organized and proactively planning your work can greatly improve the result of your campaigns.
Create a social media calendar
Google Sheets is completely customizable and free to us. You can create one that fits your needs, especially if they don’t have a huge budget. You can access the excel file below for reference.
Hootsuite offers its users an internal social planner that integrates directly with Google Sheets. You can find more information below.
- How to create a social media calendar: Tips and templates
- Your 6 steps guide to creating and managing a social media content calendar
Social media management tools
Social media management tools can help digital marketers perform all kinds of tasks. Whether your goal is to create content, find content to share, schedule posts, or collect analytics, there are social media management tools to handle almost anything.
Tools for content creation
To run social media campaigns, you’ll need to create content.
- Canva offers free and paid memberships and allows you to create your original content or use templates.
- Adobe Creative Cloud Express is a free tool that offers similar capabilities when it comes to building content from templates.
Tools for content curation
Curating content refers to the process of selecting, collecting, and organizing pieces of content. To keep your social media feeds fresh, you’ll want to source content from other outlets, in addition to creating and posting your own. These tools can help you find, and organize content:
- Feedly complies news tailored to your industry and allows you to immediately repost it to all your brand’s social accounts. If you don’t want to repost right away, you can save the content for later.
- Pocket delivers content relevant to your interests and allows you to save it so you can repost it later. With Pocket, you can access your saved list from mobile, desktop, and tablet.
Tools for content scheduling
Digital marketers always have a long list of to-dos. Scheduling content can help you get everything done because it means you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to create and publish a post. You can schedule the post for the optimal time so that you can reach your target audience.
- Hootsuite is a social media management tool that allows you to create social media calendars. It integrates directly with Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms so you can schedule posts in advance.
- Buffer also allows you to draft and schedule posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
Tools for analytics
When it comes to learning about campaign performance, you will need a social media analytics tool. If you learn what worked and what didn’t work, you can adjust your strategy for future campaigns. These tools can help you collect and analyze data from your campaigns:
- Hootsuite Analytics is an analytics tool featuring a dashboard that fully integrates with all your social media platforms.
- Brandwatch allows you to easily track brand reputation, trends, influencers, and competition.
- Mentionlytics focuses on tracking mentions and keywords across all your social media platforms.
Resources for social media management
- The 25 top social media management tools for businesses of all sizes
- How to choose the best social media marketing tool for your business
Compose and publish posts using Hootsuite
Hootsuite is an all-in-one social media management tool that enables you to plan and create content, schedule posts, listen to and engage with customers, advertise, and collect analytics. A tool like Hootsuite essentially enables you to address all of the pillars of social media marketing in one place.
Open a Hootsuite account
To start using Hootsuite for social media management, open a free student account at https://education.hootsuite.com/. You’ll be asked to enter your full name and email address and create a password. Then click Back to Hootsuite.com.
Link your social media accounts to Hootsuite
To publish posts to social media using Hootsuite, you’ll first need to link your social media accounts to your Hootsuite account. Add your social media accounts to Hootsuite by clicking the My Profile icon in the bottom left and then clicking Manage accounts and teams.
The directions for how to add social media accounts to Hootsuite vary depending on the type of account (business or private) you are adding, and on the social media platform type. Hootsuite supports linking to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest.
Select accounts to publish to
One of Hootsuite’s key features is the ability to schedule and publish posts to multiple social media platforms at once. Instead of signing in to each platform separately, you can use Hootsuite to manage activity for all of your connected accounts in one place, which can save you time.
To create a new post, select the Create icon from the sidebar, then select Post.
Then select the account(s) you want to publish to from the Publish list.
Compose your post
After you’ve selected social media accounts to publish to, you can compose your post.
In the Content area, enter the text of your post. You can also include:
- Mentions: usernames of businesses, brands, or people preceded by the “@” symbol (for example, @Smith)
- Emojis: small digital images or icons used to express ideas or emotions
- Hashtags: words or phrases preceded by the pound symbol that indicates that a piece of content relates to a specific topic or category (e.g. #DigitalMarketing)
Hootsuite copies the content of your post into tabs for each social media platform you’ve selected. In each tab, you can customize the content so it is optimized for your unique audiences on each platform.
When the body of your post is complete, you can add media – such as images, videos, and GIFs – to your post. Adding media to your social media posts increases the likelihood that your audience will engage with them. Hootsuite offers a media library of royalty-free images and GIFs that you can add to your post or you can upload your own. You can edit images in your posts using Hootsuite’s built-in photo editor.
To make images and videos more accessible, you can add alt text – a brief, written description with the primary purpose of assisting individuals who are visually impaired – or subtitles.
Preview and publish your post
After you create your post, you can select a social media platform tab and preview how your post will look on that platform. When you’re satisfied with your post, you can choose from the following publishing options: Post now, Schedule for later and Save draft.
View your schedule posts
You can view and manage your social media posts in one place by clicking the Planner icon, which is Hootsuite’s built-in social media calendar. Review your scheduled posts and plan new content based on what you already have scheduled. Review your scheduled posts and plan new content based on what you already have scheduled.
More information on using Hootsuite
- Hootsuite Platform Training: Series of instructional videos showing how to use the various features of the Hootsuite platform
- Add a social account to Hootsuite: Article providing detailed instructions on how to link accounts from different social media platforms to Hootsuite
- Create and publish posts: Article describing how to create and publish posts on Hootsuite
- The Best Time to Post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn: Article discussing the best times to post on different social media platforms
Happy learning and good luck!