It’s well known that social media presents a tremendous opportunity for businesses to connect directly with their customers and potential customers. But, at Sprout Content, we hear all too often, “I started a Facebook page, but what do I say?”
Social media Conversation Calendars are a great way to not only help you develop your social media strategy, but also make the process more efficient and keep your posts updated regularly. You can always throw current news happenings and other posts into the mix, but a conversation calendar will help you ensure the conversation keeps going when you're short on time and resources. Here are a few guidelines that will help you get started.
Determine who and why
First, you need to develop a social media content strategy. You have to know who you’re trying to reach and why. Identifying your target audience and the kind of information they’re looking for is essential.
For example, if you’re an organic snack food company trying to reach moms, think about what moms would want to know about your product or hear from your brand. Then, create three or four “buckets” of information that each post should connect back to, such as healthy ingredient information, health topics for kids, brand news, and conversation starters with moms. Once you start developing your calendar, create a column for each content bucket to keep you on track. (More on that shortly.)
Develop your voice and tone
Many brands and companies make the mistake of posting inconsistently from a different voice or perspective. Decide upfront if you are going to post and respond from the first person “I” or from a personal, yet collective brand/business perspective “We.” You can also use a more neutral third person without the use of a pronoun.
Choosing the tone of your content is also important. Is your brand’s social media personality light and friendly or serious and informative? Be consistent when writing posts and responding to fan feedback or questions.
Start your Conversation Calendar
Conversation Calendars usually include two to three of your planned posts per week for an entire month. Keep in mind that topics and posts can, and will likely, change depending on current news or last-minute promotions. No matter what, the calendar will set the foundation for your social media engagement and ensure you are posting regularly.
After your audience is established (e.g., moms), and your content strategy is determined (topic buckets), it’s time to decide what to write about. Need ideas? Look at the news, industry trends and blogs for inspiration, as well as any relevant company information such as new products or services and special offers. Also, think about the questions that your customers ask most often.
How to Set Up a Social Media Conversation Calendar
- Set up a spreadsheet with monthly worksheets, and create columns for the post date, day of the week, content bucket, and actual posts for whatever networks work best for you and your audience.
- Upload the conversation calendar to your daily calendar or shared calendar/Intranet, etc. if there will be more than one person posting.
Own your social media content
Whether you are a business of one or 1,000, someone must be in charge of your company’s content strategy, creation, approval and governance. Establishing your social media content process and designating responsibilities for managing it are essential steps.
- Who is responsible for developing, writing and posting according to schedule?
- Who is responsible for monitoring and responding to comments in relative real time?
Finally, you have to determine how you will deem your social media content a success. Social media is only valuable for businesses if you use it to meet specific objectives. These may include an increase in the number of fans or followers, an increase in feedback, “likes”, or “shares,” or a boost in website traffic. Here are a few easy tools that can help you get started.
- Hootsuite lets you monitor most of your social networks in one place.
- Facebook Insights offers numbers on engagement, “likes” and users.
- Social mention is a free tool for real-time social media search results. Sign up to receive free daily email alerts for your company, product, a news topic or even a competitor.
Is your company, big or small, using a conversation calendar for social media? If you'd like suggestions on getting started, let us know how we can help!
If you need a system to keep all of your content like blogs, newsletters, etc. organized and efficient, an editorial calendar is the next step. Download our new e-book Content Continuity: An Interactive Guide to Editorial Calendars now available in the iTunes store.Content Marketing Institute blog on December 1, 2010. It has been edited and republished on the above date to reflect updated information and for relevancy.