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Social Media Scheduling: How to Always Be One Step Ahead

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you prepare to fail.” While it might have been a few centuries before social media existed, the same sentiment rings true to marketers and community managers today. When you make social media scheduling a priority, you plan for the future and stay one step ahead in an industry that changes so quickly.

It’s no longer about just existing on social, but being present and engaging with your audience. However, trying to organize, manage, and publish your social media content is no easy task. It takes time and investment to see results of a well-executed social media marketing strategy.

Learning how to effectively schedule social media content saves time and money, but it also makes your business adaptable and better organized. There are some nuances to learn with social media scheduling, but with the right tools, content and motivation, you’ll be a pro in no time.

Try Sprout Social’s social media publishing tools to schedule content across multiple accounts or platforms. Sign up for a free 30-day trial!

The Benefits of Social Media Scheduling

Social media scheduling provides plenty of benefits for your small business, agency or enterprise organization. The time and energy saved can mean the difference in a successful social marketing campaign.

Here are a few benefits of social media scheduling:

  • Reach the correct time zone: Some brands know their core audience is in different locations around the world. Taking every step to get in front of them is critical to maximize organic reach. Not only can you publish at any time, but you can also create content plans, schedule accordingly and get back to other tasks.
  • Post real-time updates: Whether you’re slated for a product launch or a company update, scheduling takes the stress out of social and allows you to focus on other things. Some business sales start at midnight, so why stay up and wait when you can schedule and be timely?

  • Map out your content: Along with being timely, you can work ahead with scheduling tools. Plan out your core social media content in advanced and limit same-day posting. Mapping out content allows you to be more strategic, better at targeting and ultimately post more content.
  • Limit promotional posts: One of the main reasons people unfollow businesses is due to overly promotional content. Stick to the 80/20 rule (80% creative and 20% promotional) to keep followers entertained and happy.

  • Consistency across platforms: An inconsistent brand voice can do more harm than good and this is true with social media as well. Maintain consistency in brand voice with scheduled content and ensure your posts won’t seem off-brand.

Social Media Scheduling Tips

It’s probably cool at this point to say you’re on board and understand the benefits to scheduling social media posts. Well, it’s just as important to know how to actually schedule content in the first place.

Native social media platforms weren’t really built for businesses in mind, which means you need a powerful social media scheduling tool. That’s why we’ll give you five tips to best schedule your social media content with a scheduling tool:

1. Adopt a Social Media Scheduling Tool for Your Most Valuable Networks

Listen–we’re going to be a little bias on what tool we think performs best for your social media scheduling needs. However, we have the software to backup our reasoning. Sprout Social’s publishing tools lets you see your scheduled content on a weekly calendar. Not only that, but our tools make it absolutely simple to publish to your favorite social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Instagram.

instagram scheduling publishing calendar view

Understand what social networks perform the best for your brand and hone in on them with the insights you can gain from an all-in-one social analytics tool. As you’ll hear from us often, don’t try to tackle all your social networks at once.

Instead, focus on the few networks that actually produce results. As you build out your social content strategy, you’ll be able to tweak and alter your publishing habits to gain more brand loyalists and engaged followers.

Compose from the Publishing Calendar

Every business on social will have different needs, but this shouldn’t prevent you from effectively tackling the networks you need. With a powerful tool like Sprout, your scheduling needs are answered.

2. Start Filling Your Content Calendar

Once you have your tools set, it’s time to start planning. Building out your social media calendar is the best way to keep consistency, continually publish and remain agile in your industry. There are some important questions to ask when building out your calendar.

First, how many posts per day do you plan to publish and on which social networks? While each network obviously has different posting habits, the amount of followers can also make your situation unique.

For example, posting twice a day to Facebook has always been the go-to for brands. But a HubSpot study found brands that post twice a day with under 10,000 followers see fewer clicks the more they post.

hubspot facebook grpah

And with Instagram’s latest social media algorithm, brands want the most engagement per post. This drives up the demand for quality content. If you’re wondering if your Instagram content is up to par, check out our Instagram best practices infographic!

Through collective research, CoSchedule dissected the best posting frequency from different studies. They recommended posting between these ranges depending on your audience size, content type and schedule:

  • Facebook: 1-2 times per day
  • Instagram: 1-2 times per day
  • LinkedIn: 0-1 times per day
  • Twitter: 1-51 times per day (recommended 15 per day)
  • Pinterest: 3-30 times per day (recommended 11 per day)

3. Know Your Different Types of Content to Publish

Each brand has unique publishing habits, but there are ways to get creative to fill up your calendar. For example, you can try to post content types for each day on a weekly basis. Here’s a small list of content types to use each week:

    • User-Generated Content: A simple way to highlight your power users, customers and brand loyalists is through user-generated content. You can highlight real customers and encourage others to share their product experiences with you. UGC is a nice balance between promotional content and highlighting your fans.

'Oh, boy!' It's #FreshEpcot! #MickeyMouse (Photo: @drblue)

A post shared by Walt Disney World (@waltdisneyworld) on

    • Industry News: Whether you’re in a so called “boring” industry or not, there’s always news. Find places on LinkedIn or Twitter to share industry news and show customers you’re an authority on the subject and stay in the know.

  • Behind the Scenes Content: Snapchat has made in-the-moment and behind-the-scenes content exciting for users. Brands have taken advantage of this and added weekly tours on Instagram Stories, influencer meetups on Snapchat and other behind-the-scenes content on other platforms.
  • Group Chats/Discussions: Twitter chats, Facebook group chats and other discussion-style formats work well at connecting your brand to users and others in the industry. You can highlight comments, questions and topics brought up in the chat and use them as discussion points for your content throughout the month.
  • Creative Contests: Don’t give away iPads or big screen TVs–leave that for the car dealerships. Instead, hold creative contests to get users to engage. Give out swag gift bags or small industry-related gifts to get users to participate on your social channels. Promote it each week to fill up a slot on your calendar.

Just remember not to go too far in advance with scheduling because you’ll likely lose the “freshness” of your content while sitting it on the shelf for too long.

4. Set Up a Message Approval Workflow

For agencies and enterprise businesses, message approval is critical to any social media calendar. With an approval workflow, content owners know their posts are curated, edited and on topic. Otherwise, you run of risk of scheduling content too quickly and carelessly.

Social media scheduling tools allow you to increase team efficiency through user-based permissions. That means you have only a select few that can review and approve the content before it’s published.

Submit A Message for Approval from Sprouts Compose Modal

Creating order within a social content strategy can be more daunting than it seems. However, using approvers prevents errors, untimely content and a better workflow for all. Content strategists can easily get content approved ahead of time to ensure a full schedule is in order.

Make sure your business has a proper workflow when submitting, approving and publishing content to allow more governance from team leads.

social media publishing learn more banner
5. Find the Best Times to Post
After your content is created, approved and ready to be published, you want to consider the best times to reach your audience. Properly scheduling social media content plays a major role in organic reach.
Building up your audience and reaching them at the right time is an art of its own. That’s why we previously collected data on the best times to post to give you a better idea of when to reach your audience. Feel free to read the entire guide to the best times to post on social media here!

Some of the major takeaways we learned about when to post, include:

  • Facebook: Thursday at 1 p.m. was the most efficient day and time, but data showed it was safe nearly any day between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Twitter: Noon on Thursday is the most efficient day and time. However, other strong days fall between Monday and Thursday as well.
  • Instagram: The most recommended posting times include 2 a.m., 8.a.m. and 5 p.m. with the peak days between Monday and Friday.
  • LinkedIn: Noon and 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday are the most optimal times to post to LinkedIn with safe periods between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.
  • Pinterest: The most recommended times include 9 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday, along with late nights during the week.

Analyze Your Work

Get in the habit of tracking your content strategy and measuring what works best across each channel. You’ll quickly begin to see patterns and learn posting habits that best reach your audience. Make notes, scale and analyze your content to gain better insights into your social media scheduling.

It will pay in the end to have your content prepped and prepared weeks in advance. Don’t believe us? Feel free to try a 30-day trial with Sprout Social and see how social media scheduling can help your content strategy.

This post Social Media Scheduling: How to Always Be One Step Ahead originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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What Content Marketers Can Learn From an Adept Dungeon Master

Content Marketing Lessons from Dungeons & Dragons

Content Marketing Lessons from Dungeons & Dragons

It’s probably not news to you that 91% of B2B brands use content marketing to attract, engage, nurture, and convert their audience. However, it might be surprising to learn that only 9% of those brands rate their content marketing as “sophisticated.” Sophisticated meaning that their content marketing is successful, scales across the organization, and provides accurate measurement to the business. This puts a lot of pressure on content marketers to elevate their game and provide more worthwhile and valuable content experiences.

Patrick PinedaAs an adept Dungeon Master (DM) of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) games, TopRank Marketing’s Motion Graphic Designer, Patrick Pineda, can relate.

It might sound a little odd at first, but Dungeon Masters and content marketers are more alike than you think. Responsible for creating meaningful and memorable experiences through content that takes people on a journey, you can see the similarities arise. Just like content marketers need to help guide people through the buyer journey, the Dungeon Master needs to guide players through a journey of their own.

After serving his friends as the go-to Dungeon Master, Patrick has learned a thing or two from creating lengthy campaigns—some successful, some not—that are both engaging and challenging. Discover Patrick’s lessons from the dungeon and how you can apply them to your content marketing campaigns and programs down below.

What Is a Dungeon Master?

For the unfamiliar, a Dungeon Master is the organizer for the wildly popular, 40-year-old tabletop role-playing game, “Dungeons & Dragons.” Not only do DMs organize the game, but they are also responsible for the game rules, details, and challenges. According to Patrick, the player experience hinges on a DM’s ability to create meaningful content that’s fun to explore.

One thing Dungeon Masters are not responsible for, however, are the players’ actions.

Like the self-directed buyers of today, D&D players are able to choose their own paths. As a result, DMs are challenged to make sure players finish the game. And just like your audience won’t read every piece of content you put in front of them, the same happens in a D&D game. Certain story elements DMs put together will never see the light of day because every player has a different play style, completes tasks in different orders, and takes different actions.

“The best Dungeon Master doesn’t just create a good story, but they also help players reach their goals,” Patrick claims.

Does any of this sound familiar? It certainly resonated for me.

5 Content Marketing Lessons From the Dungeon

Having created D&D campaigns that ruled and bombed, here are Patricks top five tips for developing content that resonate with your audience.

#1 - Your audience values originality.

If Patrick creates a campaign that plays to common tropes like a damsel in distress or small town disappearances, the story becomes predictable. But worse than that, the players feel condescended to as the game starts to feel dumbed down.

“Cliches and stereotypes will make players groan. It’s important when creating a campaign that I shake it up and play against common conventions,” Patrick says.

When examining your content and the story you’re trying to tell, it’s just as important to stay original and play with your audience’s expectations. For example, listicles with social media tips are a dime a dozen. Your audience might be more interested if you flip the idea on its head with social media mistakes. In changing it up, you’re giving your audience something new that they haven’t read before, capturing their interest.

[bctt tweet="When examining your content & the story you’re trying to tell, it’s just as important to stay original & play with your audience’s expectations. - @aleuman4 #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - Appeal to curiosity.

When it comes to creating an adventure for players to navigate, the DM has a seemingly impossible job. They need to create a unique and compelling world that is able to hold players’ attention—something not easily done. In fact, campaigns have taken Patrick days to put together. But that doesn’t come without its drawbacks.

“I’ve spent hours upon hours creating content for a campaign. But 80% of what I create may never see any playtime. It’s ultimately the players’ choice as to what tasks they want to complete and what quests they want to go on,” Patrick points out.

While the D&D world needs to have a unique and compelling narrative, it also needs to appeal to a player’s curiosity to ensure they keep playing the game and play the parts of the game that you want them to.

How does this apply to content marketing? Well, as you know, just because you’re producing content, doesn’t mean that your audience will find it. To find the answers they’re looking for, they might scour the internet, social media, and trusted experts for more information. Having an integrated content strategy that has multiple touch points throughout the buyer journey and an omni-channel approach, helps ensure you’re reaching your target audience whenever and wherever they may be searching.

Weaving SEO, social media, and influencer marketing into your content marketing strategy helps improve the reach and engagement of the content you’re producing. Through SEO, your organic rankings and click-through-rates will start to rise, improving your organic traffic. Social media messages that are well written and value-based help attract larger audiences from their social feeds. And, finally, tapping into industry influencers exposes your content to a wider network of like-minded individuals, as well as adding authority and credibility.

#3 - Avoid corraling your audience.

Nobody likes to be told what to do, including D&D players. While the DM writes the game and serves as a referee, they cannot influence a player’s actions. And if a DM attempts to, they could quickly lose a player’s interest.

“As a DM, it can be tempting to intervene and make sure that your players are playing the game the way you intended. But this is the one thing you cannot do.” Patrick emphasizes.

This is true in content marketing, too, as making calls to action (CTAs) with zero context can be a turn-off for your audience. If you insert a CTA before your audience can learn what’s in it for them, whether it’s downloading an eBook, listening to a podcast, or subscribing to your blog, they’re less likely to do it. In fact, QuickSprout found that placing a CTA above the fold on a page decreased their conversion rate by 17% and attributed it to their audience not fully understanding why they should complete the action.

Instead, make sure that your CTAs have plenty of context and explain what the audience will gain by filling out your form, reading another blog post, etc. This helps ensure that your content satisfies your audience’s quest for knowledge.

#4 - Customize content for your audience, not the other way around.

As we mentioned previously, the players are in charge of their actions and how they choose to play the game, making it impossible for DMs to have control over the game experience. This makes it important for DMs to know their audience ahead of time, so they can include important sought-after details into different game components.

“I’ll ask players before we start what they hope to get out of the game, whether it’s take down an enemy or just to have fun. Knowing this ahead of time, I can tailor the game to what each player wants to have happen,” Patrick says.

For content marketers, this lesson should hit close to home. You need to know your audience well in advance in order to deliver personalized content. If you create content and worry about your audience later, chances are you aren’t engaging the right people.

After taking a look at your own audience’s characteristics and interests in Google Analytics, create unique personas for each of your audience members. This allows you to create content that is tailored for each person you hope to attract and engage. For example, if one of your target personas is a Director of Business Development, creating custom content that addresses a unique pain points like identifying new business opportunities or tips from the experts on how to strengthen their existing client relationships.

[bctt tweet="If you create content and worry about your audience later, chances are you aren’t engaging the right people. - @aleuman4 #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#5 - Chart your course.

There is a lot going on in a D&D game. And for the DM, that number is amplified as you have to remember every detail about your players, what’s been completed, and what could come next.

“To make sure I’m on top of the game and can portray characters well, I chart the game’s relationships instead of story elements. If I focus on the story, it could quickly become useless as players might do things out of order or in a non-linear fashion. By focusing on the relationships and where they fit in the narrative, the game becomes more fluid and flexible for the players and I can keep track of their journey,” Patrick says.

Tracking the journey isn’t the only thing Patrick notes, however. He also documents player strengths, weaknesses, and stats as the game progresses.

“I keep a character sheet that details each player’s play style. For example, if a player is investing their skill points in intelligence, I can tailor future encounters in the game to focus on problem-solving instead of combat. The opposite is true for a player who invests in raw strength,” Patrick notes.

Through detailed charts, maps, and grids, Patrick is able to make sure that his players have a personalized, seamless experience for every campaign they play, regardless of how they play it.

Customer Journey & Dungeons and Dragons Journey

By taking the same approach with your content marketing, you can identify opportunities for customization and develop a strategy for weaving your content into the buyer’s journey. For example, by knowing which pieces of content attract a larger audience or drive more conversions, you can use that information to inform your content development and map your content to different stages of the funnel (see below).

Grid Assigning Content to Buyer Stages

To collect this data on your content and audience, review your Google Analytics behavior and conversion dashboards to find our which pieces of content excel at attracting, engaging, or converting your audience. Metrics like page views and entrances are good indicators for attraction, whereas time on page or number of pages per session can help you understand engagement. And, finally, the number of conversions through conversion tracking is the best way to find your top converting content. Armed with this knowledge you can create content plans that are tailored for your audience’s unique buyer journey.

Your Audience Is the Hero

A good Dungeon Master enables players to become the hero of the story through a personalized game with a compelling, original narrative. As a content marketer, it’s your responsibility to create content that transforms your audience into heroes as well, helping them solve seemingly impossible problems with your expert, best-answer advice.

Through an integrated content strategy with originality, personalization, and “best answer” content that’s mapped to the buyer journey, you can become the perfect Content Master for your audience.

For more ideas on how to become a masterful content marketer, check out these 25 content marketing tips, including how to tackle writer’s block, repurpose content, utilize storytelling, and more.

The post What Content Marketers Can Learn From an Adept Dungeon Master appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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