A lot of people ask me how I schedule my social media posts, so today I thought I’d pull back the curtains on my strategy and show you what’s worked for me and exactly how I’ve created a social media posting schedule that runs on autopilot.
First, there are a few ground rules if your goal is to get visible with your dream clients online:
The Ground Rules For Social Media Visibility
Rule #1 Know Your Audience
If your audience isn’t filled with the right people, you’ll be wasting your time and we can’t have that. To get results, it’s all about providing the right content to the right people.
The number of followers you have is less important than having a highly-targeted audience filled with a healthy mix of:
- Potential dream clients
- Friends and colleagues
- People who also serve your customer niche (related service providers)
Hold up. Why would you not just want to create a following of potential dream clients?
Because the people who are going to be most likely to share and engage with your content are going to be your allies, not people who don’t know you yet.
Most especially this is going to include professionals in your industry and people who are also serving your niche audience. They’re looking to curate content that will help their customer who is also your customer.
And if your mom is like my mom, include her in there too (thanks for liking all my Facebook posts mom–I see you.)
Rule #2 Don’t Overcomplicate Your Content Strategy
Here, I’m specifically talking about your content strategy for high-value, original content you’ll share on social media. (There are other types of content you’ll share–like Quick Posts–and I’ll get to that in a sec.)
Always start with your end goal in mind: what is it that you sell? You want to be sharing content that will move people toward an eventual sale.
STEP 1: Decide on 3-5 content categories that you can focus on—they should all relate in some way to what you sell
If you have a blog, these will be your blog categories too and you’ll want to limit them to 3-5 or so. If you have too many categories you’re going to drive yourself crazy and your audience is going to have a hard time figuring out what you do.
STEP 2: As they relate to those categories, what are the main problems your customer struggles with? These will be the topics you’ll focus on
You’re going to help your audience solve problems relating to the things you sell by creating and sharing free content. When people ramble on about “providing value” on social media, this is what that means.
Demonstrating your expertise and helping your audience with free content is the way to build trust and awareness, and when they need more help than your free content can deliver, you’ll be the one they’ll trust and buy from.
So you can see this in action, my content categories look like this:
What I sell:
- Brand strategy & identity design
- Website design
- Client attraction strategy
- Brave branding > Topics relating to branding
- Website empowerment > Topics relating to websites
- Client attraction > Topics related to service-based business owners (my target audience) looking to attract clients online
- Digital entrepreneur > This is a catch-all category for topics my target customer is interested in
It’s simple when you break it down like that, right?
But I really wanted to show you that because I still see so many people overcomplicating it, getting overwhelmed, and feeling confused about what they should be posting to social media and what types of content they should create.
Pro tip: Get narrow and go deep
The more you understand your audience and what they’re struggling with, and the more you get focused on what you want to become known for (what you sell/the problem you solve), the easier it is.
A big mistake people make is going way too broad with their content strategy: “I’m going to run out of things to say if I don’t keep it generic!”
But in fact, it’s actually easier to create loads and loads of content your audience will love when you get narrow and go deep.(I do a deeper dive into all of this in my book The Client Attraction Mindset if you’re unclear about your brand positioning.)
Pro tip: Listen to your audience and learn from data
Pay attention to the things that get the most engagement and drive the most traffic. Then, double down on those topics because your audience is telling you exactly what they want.
Keep paying attention to the questions your customers are asking, where they get stuck, the things they struggle with. Your potential customers out there have those same questions and problems and you can address them with your content.
Rule #3 Focus On 1-2 Social Media Channels At A Time
Another big mistake people I see people make is dabbling with all the social media channels but not getting anywhere with any of them.
And I get it. We’re bombarded with “You need to be on Instagram!” and “The only way to build authority is to lead a Facebook group!” messages and it’s hard not to feel the pressure, we don’t want to miss out on some big secret formula that’s going to get us visible.
But here’s a secret you can bank on: there are many tactics that’ll get you visible, but if you’re not truly committed to showing up and being consistent, you’re just wasting your time.
Practicing restraint and being realistic is the best thing I ever did to help me gain more traction on social media.
While I have a presence on nearly every social media channel out there, I started out by focusing on just two channels: Twitter and Pinterest.
What I did not do is focus on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Tumblr, Google+, Reddit… you get the point. That’s insane unless you’re a full-time blogger or you have an assistant.
I took some time to really dig deep into Twitter and Pinterest to learn how to:
- Grow my audience and reach (every channel is different)
- Set up my systems for creating and sharing content regularly (content calendars, spreadsheets, apps, plugins, scheduling tools, etc.)
Once I got a handle on that (and it took months guys), I moved on to Facebook.
From time to time someone will say, “Why aren’t you on LinkedIn more?” or “Why aren’t you doing anything on Instagram?” or “Why don’t you have a Facebook group?”
I’ll tell you exactly why: I’m not there yet.
- I’m busy running the day-to-day of my business (taking care of my clients)
- I’m focused on writing quality content and that takes a lot of time
- I have not achieved my goals with the channels I’m already on, so it’s not the time to start throwing new things into the mix
But here’s the good news. In the last 6 months:
- I’ve tripled my Twitter following from around 1k followers to over 3.5k
- I’ve gone from virtually zero on Pinterest to having over 100k views per month.
- On Facebook, I went from nothing to having 1-2k+ organic reach and 150-250+ post engagements per week with a very small following and modest posting schedule
Here’s the even better news: As a result of these efforts, I’ve connected with collaboration partners, booked clients, and made sales. I’ve even been offered jobs! This is what matters, not the vanity numbers–that will come in time because my reach only continues to grow as I keep consistently showing up.
How do you choose which channels to focus on?
It all depends on where your ideal client is likely to be.
- LinkedIn is great for B2B lead generation and networking, especially if you have a clearly-defined niche
- So is Twitter, but Twitter moves fast — be prepared to post a lot of content and to spend time engaging with people
- Everyone is on Facebook, and you can’t beat Facebook ads for reaching a targeted audience so a Facebook page is a must even if you’re not super active there
- Hosting a Facebook group is a great way to build community and authority, but those take a lot of time so be prepared to really dig in and commit to leading and providing value to that community
- Instagram is great for building awareness if the service you sell is visual and especially if your audience skews younger, but it’s not going to drive much traffic if that’s your goal. (You need 10k followers to use Instagram Stories to create clickable links that drive traffic). So if your audience is on Instagram and you love Instagram, that’s what you’ll want to shoot for.
Rule #4 Decide in advance what types of content you’ll post
If you’re looking for 365 days of content ideas that include “funny memes,” “inspirational quotes,” and “shout-outs” you won’t find it here.
All of those things are fine, but without a strategy behind them these types of things are just contributing to the noise and they’re not going to get you noticed, help you build authority, or become a go-to expert people trust and engage with.
Your goal is to build up a library of original, high-value content to share to your social channels.
Key word: goal. It’s going to take time and patience to build that up, but this should be your first priority when you’re planning what you’ll post to social media.
Think of each piece of content you create as an asset to your business that helps you build your brand. So before you create content, ask yourself:
- Can this content be search optimized?
- Can I promote this content forever? (“evergreen”)
- Does this content help me convey the core values of my brand?
- Does this content help me establish credibility and authority?
- Does this content help people to know, like, and trust me?
- Does this content help my target audience?
- Does this content help move people toward a next step?
- Have I put my own twist on a common subject?
You don’t have to tick every box with every piece of content, but you don’t want to just post for posting’s sake. Even your inspirational quotes, funny memes and shout-outs should be in alignment with your brand.
Original, high-value content can be:
- Written (e.g. blog posts)
- Audio (e.g. podcast episodes)
- Video (e.g. live videos, YouTube channel)
Don’t try to do all of those things to start―just choose one primary way you’re going to create content and get a good handle on that before you start dabbling with other forms of content.
It’s not about creating as much as you can, it’s about earning trust and being consistent. So take your time.
Maybe you can create one blog post, video or audio per week or even per month―that’s great. It won’t take long before you have enough content that you can start re-posting and promoting that content on autopilot.
Then round out a social media posting schedule with easier-to-create content so you can show up and get visible with some consistency and frequency
This will take the form of:
- Other people’s content (content curation)
- Quick & Easy posts with images & text or short videos such as:
- Motivational Quotes
- Words of encouragement
- Quick tips
- Ask a question
- Fun facts
- The occasional “get to know me” selfie with a personal anecdote, joke, or story.
I get the most engagement on the last type. Try it out for yourself–add some selfies into the mix and share a personal story or a funny quip and see what happens. I’ll bet you a donut it’s going to perform better for you than other types of posts.
People on social media appreciate when you show up as a human-person.
I don’t want to fill my queue up with “me, me, me” content. It’s not about me, it’s about me helping my ideal customer and building that trust, so I only sprinkle this type of content here and there.
But, I do want my audience to get to know me (people hire people they like and relate to) so in a way, these are just as important as the blog posts that take me 15 hours to write. Here’s an example of what I mean:
Now I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the more “me” I can be on social media, the more I’ll attract people who are going to be the right fit.
Note: Quick & Easy posts help you build awareness and earn engagement, not drive traffic
Because it’s content that doesn’t link anywhere, these types of posts are not going to drive traffic. But it does help you stay visible, build awareness, and stay top-of-mind. With these, aim for engagement rather than traffic–likes, comments, shares.
These types of posts work particularly well on Facebook because they’re all about keeping people on the platform.
Pro Tip: Batch Your Post-Creation Time
I create these Quick & Easy posts in “batches” so it doesn’t take up a ton of my time. If you’re not a designer and want to create cool branded quickies like this, I’m really digging Visme.
I keep a spreadsheet filled with ideas and when I have a bit of free time, I sit down and crank out a whole bunch of them–as many as I can–and then load them into my social media scheduler SmarterQueue (more on that in a sec).
I keep my queue filled up with short little how-do-you-dos like this and as you can see, with a tiny following (< 300), the organic reach ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at! This post reached 261 people and it was not boosted. Not bad.
Some people have abandoned Facebook because they’re not organically reaching thousands of people but to me, a tiny service business, 261 people is 261 freaking people. For free. I’m not mad about it.
Rule #5 Be Consistent
This is perhaps the most important rule of all. If you’re being random or willy-nilly with your social media efforts, you’re going to have a tough time building awareness and trust.
There’s a lot of competition out there–your dream clients are exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages every single day. Most of what they see they’re going to scroll right on past. That’s why you can’t just post once, you have to keep showing up every day.
Yes, every day. That’s what visibility requires. But hang in there with me, I’m going to show you how you can automate much of this in a “set it and forget it” way.
Create A Social Media Posting Schedule
Step 1: Determine Your Key Time Slots
Before you create your posting schedule (oh hey by the way, you need a posting schedule), you’ll want to do some research into when your target audience is most likely to be on social media so they’re most likely to see your content.
DO NOT just post “whenever.” You’re busy running a business and you want to get the most out of social media, right? Then you need to make sure you’re getting the most reach with every post.
Use The Research
As a starting point, use CoScheule’s guide, “What 23 Studies Say About The Best Times To Post on Social Media” to figure out the peak times when your audience is most active.
Keep in mind this type of research usually focuses on the Eastern time zone in the USA. You’ll need to adjust accordingly if your audience is not in the states.
Use Social Analytics & Audience Insights
Now you want to go to your social media profiles and find out when your audience is most active. All your social media accounts will have insights and analytics for you to dig into.
For me, I found out that the “when to post” recommendations you see floating around everywhere on infographics and in research (see above) was, for the most part, accurate–but totally missed a couple of KEY peak times for me.
And, they don’t take into account time zones of secondary audiences.
For each day of the week and for each channel you’ll be posting to:
- Write down the most popular times to post for your time zone according to research
- Write down the most popular times to post form what you found in your analytics/insights
This should only take you a few minutes to gather up all this information. Keep this handy we’ll come back to it in a sec.
Step #2: Determine Your Posting Frequency
Now you’re going to decide how often you want to post each day.
Here’s some common wisdom as a place to start.
Facebook: 1x per day
Twitter: 15x per day
LinkedIn: 1x per day
Google+: 1-2x per day
Instagram: 1-2x per day
Pinterest: 11x per day
I post around 10x per day to Twitter and 4x on Facebook. On Pinterest, I post around 30x per day. LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram I post infrequently.
That’s me. You do you.
But just keep in mind that people tend to worry about looking “spammy” if they post too much, but it’s more common for people to NOT POST ENOUGH. You should be so lucky if you looked like a spammer, most people are going to miss your content most of the time.
Step #3: Create your content (type) categories
Create your categories based on the types of content you’ll be sharing. Mine looks like this:
Sometimes it helps to see how other people do things as a starting point, but that’s probably not going to mean anything to you because I know (in my head) what each of those things is and the types of content that get shared under each category.
But you can see that I’ve got a mix of original content, curated content and short posts (all the rest of that stuff) and where the balance is.
Step #4 Create your social media posting schedule
Now that you’ve done your research on key time slots, your frequency, and your content categories, you can create your schedule.
- You’ll want to reserve your key time slots for your original, high-value content. For me, that’s my blog posts (see above in pink).
- Then, you’ll round out your schedule with your Quick Posts (see above in yellow — which are weekday-specific posts, and green — which are catch-all Quick Post topics )
- Finally, reserve some time slots for self-promotion (in purple). Mine are flagged in red because I’m terrible about self-promotion, so SmarterQueue is telling me I need to fill that up with more content
Once you’ve gone through steps 1-4, it only takes a few minutes to drag and drop all of your content categories into your time slots with SmarterQueue.
Here’s how my schedule looks:
Then, you’re ready to fill up those slots with content!
Step 6: Set It & Forget It With Automated Scheduling
I used to just wing it with social media, but since I started using SmarterQueue, I’m able to get visible on social media when I’m busy running the day-to-day of my business.
Each time I publish new original content, I head on over to SmarterQueue add a new post, set it to “re-queue after posting,” look at how it’s previewing on desktop and mobile, add platform-specific and appropriate customizations like commentary, hashtags, and emojis…
THEN I AM DONE FOREVER!!!
SmarterQueue handles the rest and publishes them to social media at the right times and will continue to re-post for me.
Here’s why I am in love with SmarterQueue
There are a TON of scheduling tools out there and I’ve researched and/or tried them all.
- Free: The free ones are going to be quite limited in what they can do for you, a lot will still need to be done manually.
- Cheap: There are some tools that are pretty cheap and they’ll lighten the load a little bit, but you’ll still be doing a lot of the “figure-outing” and you’ll likely need more than one tool to get the job done
- Expensive: Some of the more expensive tools will do the heavy lifting for you so it’s more “set it and forget it” (that’s what we want). The problem is, those are usually $50+/month and as a one-person business, that price tag’s a little steep for me
Enter SmarterQueue *hallelujah*
By the time I found SmarterQueue., I had already paid to test drive various schedulers, but once I really got in there and played around, I found they just lacked… it wasn’t as “set it and forget it” or as intuitive to use as I had hoped.
SmarterQueue has a lot of the features I was looking for that the more expensive tools offered–including:
- The ability to create content categories
- The ability to create ‘evergreen’ posting schedules
- Warning messages when I’m inadvertently being a spammer
- Drag and drop content planning
- The ability to import my RSS feeds and easily share my curated content with a click of a button
- Content discovery and suggestions
- Posting to multiple social profiles
All of that, but at a much lower price tag. I’m on the annual plan so I pay around $17/month.
You can set it up to post to multiple platforms which is great, and you have your choice of:
- Facebook Pages
- Facebook Groups
- LinkedIn Profile
- LinkedIn Page
Google+ and Pinterest are coming soon. Plus you can connect Bit.ly and it’ll automatically convert all your links so you can get analytics on them.