A social-content calendar immediately upgrades (and simplifies—yay!) your social-media marketing. Here’s how to use one to get the best return on investment for the time you spend posting during this time when it’s more important than ever.
Dance storeowners or studio owners don’t have to be told how important it is to post regularly to social media to reach and engage their customers. But keeping up with timely posts when there are so many fires to put out isn’t easy. And with new social platforms popping up all the time, it can be overwhelming. There is a solution, though. It’s a tool that social-marketing pros call the editorial, or social-content, calendar. “When you look ahead and make a plan, you save time day to day,” says Jill Tirone, owner of DanceFit Marketing in Amherst, NY, who uses one herself and helps her dance-business clients set them up. “Having a calendar also holds you to a posting schedule, forcing you to be more consistent. And the more consistent you are, the more engagement you get.”
Basically, a social-content calendar maps out the posts you’ll be doing, to which platforms, with dates and times attached. You can use an Excel/Google spreadsheet or apps like Trello, ClickUp or Airtable. These task and project management tools, which Tirone uses, can be easily customized for social-media calendars.
Having an editorial calendar still leaves room for spontaneous posts reacting to live events, of course. But organizing your regular posting frees up time for real social-media engagement: interacting with customers online and answering their questions, and monitoring analytics so you’re not wasting time on posts that never bring customers to your store.
Making Social Media Worth Your Time
Here’s how to use a social-content calendar to get the best return on investment for the time you spend on social-media marketing.
Start with a big-picture look at your business year.
For a store, on a 12-month calendar, fill in all your promotions—back-to-school, holidays, recital, specific sales—with their lead-up times, plus in-store or community events (street fair, book signing, studio visits, for instance), any new product arrivals you know about and so on. It helps to have the big picture before you get down to planning specific posts in one- or two-week chunks. For instance, you’ll see well ahead of time that you need to gather photos if you want to post your studio’s Nutcracker recital next month.
Decide which platforms are most important to your customers.
Here’s how Tirone differentiates them, with her recommendations for frequency.
- Instagram: Tween/teenage dancers and dance moms; daily stories and 3 to 5 posts a week
- Facebook: Dance moms; daily stories and 3 to 5 posts a week
- Pinterest: Dance moms; 3 to 5 times a week. (Post original photos with a link back to your store.)
Gasping at the number of posts? Remember, not every post needs to be completely different for each platform, although you always need to keep your audience in mind. (Different photo, maybe? Message to mom vs. to teen dancer?) Also, you don’t have to do all the posting yourself. With a calendar, it’s easier to delegate (and yet still maintain control over) your social media.
Schedule the time to create and update the calendar.
Tirone says to expect to take an hour or so to establish the yearly calendar of promotions, and then about an hour a week for the weekly posting plan. Schedule that weekly hour into your calendar as if it were a staff meeting, she suggests. “If something’s not on our calendar, we tend not to do it,” she says.
Make your weekly social-media calendar template.
You’ll devise the method that’s right for your business, but it could be something like this: Divide your calendar into categories. Trello lists make this easy:
- By topic or type of post: To help stick to the 80/20 rule—80 percent engagement posts about community events, educational tips, passion for dance; 20 percent selling: specific sale, product info, online class signup, etc. (You’ll know the right balance, depending on what’s going on in your community right now.) Topics include Inspiration, Blog Posts, Questions, Tips and Self-Promotion.
- Day of the week: Schedule your posts for a date and time. Sticking to a regular schedule helps. Inspiration on Mondays, Tips on Tuesdays, Self-Promo on Wednesdays, etc. This simple breakdown makes it easy to plan and schedule. Tirone uses color-coded labels to see at a glance whether you need more of one type of content or you’re heavily posting on one channel and ignoring another.
Be sure to include:
- Author: Who’s responsible? You or a staff member? Assign for maximum accountability.
- Draft/Notes: Jot down ideas here, leave notes for staff or start to draft the actual post anytime.
- Photo: Do you need to shoot one? Tip: Create an organized Dropbox folder of pictures so you can easily stockpile and grab when needed. Or with programs like Trello, ClickUp and Airtable, you can upload photos and videos right into your calendar, so that everything’s handy when it comes time to post.
- Link: URL to include in the post
Construct your weekly or biweekly plan.
Thinking two weeks ahead, what’s happening in your dance community and at the store (new products arriving, special sale, trunk show)? Brainstorm with staff, and start populating two weeks with ideas. “Draft posts right into the calendar,” says Tirone. Upload your images, notes and links right away so everything you need is in one place. You might also have a staff member begin drafting the posts for your approval. If one week you have a store event you’ll want to cover live, you can plan to go easy on scheduled posts that day.
“You can schedule content for automatic posting natively using the Facebook app or by using programs like Hootsuite or Buffer (which includes Pinterest),” says Tirone. No one platform does it all, she says; find what works best for your mix of channels. Other tools include Planoly, Later, Sprout Social, Meet Edgar, AgoraPulse, SmarterQueue and SocialBee.
The Bottom Line
Like any business planning tool, a social-content calendar takes a bit of time up front, but the investment is worth it. Once it’s in place, allocating 10 or 15 minutes twice a day should be enough for a staff member to monitor the various platforms, answer any customer questions and generally engage with people online (which is the point, after all). For you, the calendar becomes the place to write down all your good posting ideas and save photos so they don’t get lost. At a glance, it highlights whether you’re publishing the right mix of posts to the best channels for your audience. And by freeing up time for monitoring how various posts do, it makes you a smarter (and less frazzled) social-media marketer. “Probably the biggest benefit of all,” says Tirone, “is that storeowners and studio owners can save themselves time and stress.”