content scheduling: when, where, and why
All month long we’re talking content. We’ve talked about content creation and given you tools to create the content you need to market your business. Now we’re shifting gears, but only slightly. On to content scheduling, as you would be led to believe if you read the title of this blog. Specifically, we’re talking when, where and why (also information you could get from the title). So, here’s how we’re going to break this thing down:
1. Your target audience.
Get out your market sketch and let’s talk about where Your People hang out online.
2. Your resource allocation.
We talked budget two blogs back. Now we’re putting the pieces together.
3. Your focus.
This includes both platforms and people and your central Calls to Action.
4. Simulating 24/7 availability.
You can’t be everywhere all the time, but how can you make people feel like you are?
So, let’s dive in.
Your Target Audience
When scheduling your content, you’ve got to keep Your People in the forefront of your mind, as you do in almost every other scenario. Specifically, when and where they are online, and what they’re anticipating getting out of their online experience. To clarify, you’re going to want to analyze the habits and expectations of your audience when they go online where they (hopefully) will encounter your content.
Are Your People in-bed, first-thing-in-the-morning, Phone Scrollers? Are Your People accessing most of their online content from their desktop computer after 5 p.m.? Do you need to make sure your email goes out to Your People and makes it to their inbox when they’re sorting through their emails at the beginning of a work day? These are the kinds of answers you need before you start queuing your content.
Get the general answers to these questions but don’t get hung up on absolutes. In literally every scenario in which you share a piece of content, someone will encounter it at an odd time, especially given the ever-changing algorithms across social media platforms. However, sketch out a sample timeline for your general scheduling based on your expectations of the way Your People absorb content.
Your Resource Allocation
If you caught the first blog in this content series, then you’ve already thought about your general resource allocation – budgeting your time and money for your marketing efforts. Now that you have general numbers, you can start subdividing and creating budgets for individual platforms. Once you know who comprises your audience and where your audience can be found, then you can start thinking about things like promoting your content, for instance “boosting” your post's exposure by backing it with green.
You’ll need to experiment to determine where you will get the most bang for your buck and to set the parameters of how much you want to spend where. For instance, pretend for a moment you’re a home decorating blogger whose primary audience is stay-at-home moms between the ages of 25-50. Boosting popular posts on an ad hoc basis on Instagram can yield substantial returns in the long-term retention of your Instagram following. However, pretend you’re an executive consultant who advises chief executives on major strategy deployment. Leveraging LinkedIn and putting more funds behind your SEO would, most likely, yield a higher ROI than housing your content (and your resources) on Insta.
According to a March, 2017, blog on Sprout Social, approximately 80% of online users access Facebook regularly. This is across all genders, ages, levels of education, and income. Facebook is a platform not to be missed. Conversely, if you are targeting college graduates, you would be connected on LinkedIn as 50% of all college graduates have a LinkedIn profile. If your content is directed at the under-30 crowd, you'd definitely be on Instagram and SnapChat which are not as popular in the over-30 demographic. The bottom line is to know Your People.
Set the budget and track the activity. You’re going to want to follow the general timing guidelines you created when you thought deeply about your target audience. In the next section, we’ll talk more about platforms and how to rank your effort and resources to provide the biggest effect for the effort. With resource allocation, there’s more at stake than just funds. Think about the time you plan to devote to each platform and how much content you plan to put where.
It’s probably obvious that different social media and communication platforms serve different purposes and people. People choose to utilize different platforms with different intentions - intentions you must be mindful of as you create and schedule your content. For instance, the way in which a person experiences Pinterest is a much different UX than Twitter. Even within platforms, the demographic information unique to your audience group will impact the purpose with which they use the platform. Grandmothers use Facebook in a very different way than Millennials.
Our use and expectations of social platforms is an ever-changing dynamic. Many people began using social media as a way of keeping up with friends and sharing personal experiences. Research now suggests that digital consumers are using social media is a more passive way to gain information instead of actively sharing. This does not indicate passivity on the part of consumers; they are actively looking for new and better information from their social media sites. The dynamic you want to create is to have Your People actively looking for YOU.
Are you selling or sharing? Chances are, if you’re marketing a business, you’re selling something. However, as we know with content marketing, the content you’re sharing might be buying loyalty rather than sales. Are you going after direct sales or are you taking a long-term, brand awareness approach? Any social media consultant would tell you that knowing the difference matters. It will impact your actions, your results, and your wallet at every turn.
One strategy is to cast a wide net across platforms. Another strategy is to focus the majority of your effort on your Number 1 Platform and generate some big buzz. Evaluate what you're currently doing (if anything) and see what is and isn’t working. On what platform do you receive the greatest response? Is the answer to that question congruent with your following numbers on that platform? When does your content get the most response? Is it consistent? Observe. Evaluate. Adjust. Monitor. Improve.
Simulating 24/7 Availability
Social media, specifically, is a content guzzler. It can feel daunting to even try to keep up. It can feel as if you haven’t posted something in the last hour, you’re behind the times. In addition, engagement on these platforms is almost as important as, if not more important than, posting original content. Simulating 24/7 involvement is necessary in a lot of businesses –your perpetual presence will differentiate you from competitors which is the ultimate goal, after all.
Certainly, use of a social media scheduler like Buffer or HootSuite will ameliorate some of this issue of constantly being "on"; however, in order to maintain a robust social media presence, an element of in-real-time is necessary in 2018. People want to see Instagram Stories, view Facebook Live videos, and interact on Snapchat…the list goes on. These tools limit your ability to schedule pre-programmed content, requiring you to have a current personal relationship with your business’s social media accounts.
Remember what we talked about in the first blog – this whole marketing venture is an investment, and if you want to win at this whole social media game, you’re going to have to be involved. That, or hire a team of people to personalize your social media presence with real-time, real-life involvement. This personal involvement is unmatched and original content creation can’t touch the effect generated by a personal connection to a brand, cultivated over time through direct engagement.
Next week we’re going to actually talk about keeping your content creation scheduled. We’ll round up tools for you to use from content conception to content posting. On the podcast, Hannah’s marrying the 2017 Content Series with this month’s content for an entire Content Creation Expose – every Tuesday on South Bay Social. See you next Monday and we’ll bring this month of content to a close!