Ask anyone who uses social media as part of marketing their business, what the downside to it is. I guarantee most of them will say content planning.
Most of us create calendars of information (content) that we’d like to share with our audience. Doing so provides value, and shows that we’re not just here to sell.
Having a plan helps us to be efficient, and quite honestly, it makes us look more professional because everything is thought out. (Instead of being thrown together at the last minute.)
Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes still post on the fly, but I don’t do it often. Sometimes there is a piece of information I must share with you right away!
I know one of the biggest struggles with those who use social media is content planning, so I’m going to share my process with you. Hopefully, this can help someone who is just starting out to get into a flow.
This post may contain affiliate links, and while it may not cost you anything extra, if you make a purchase through any of my links, I may make a small commission. All opinions are my own. Thank you in advance for trusting me! Read more here.
Content planning in the beginning
When I first started content planning, I started planning for a month at a time. I took a piece of scrap paper and just wrote down ideas as they came to me. I asked myself, what did I want to share with my audience? What are they looking for?
Two months into content planning, I realized that I needed a better system. I was planning and organized, but it still felt like something was missing.
After carefully thinking it through, and also researching, I found these to be the best method(s) for me.
Getting content ideas
I cannot STRESS how pertinent it is if you give yourself a running start. Planning for the future certainly isn’t easy, and it all seems like guesswork sometimes. However, if you take the stress away from your content, then that’s one less thing you’ll have to worry about. When I’m planning for the month ahead, I usually start mid-month the month before.
When I’m looking for ideas on what to provide, I do research. Content marketing is giving the people what they want, or giving them a solution to a problem they’re having.. Not posting whatever you feel like posting that day.
I ask myself, “how will ‘X’ benefit them?” and use that as my foundation.
So where do I find ideas? Everywhere!
I go into my various Facebook groups and I search for my niche or topic and see what questions people ask, or what struggles they are having in their business. I choose a few that I can write a post about that will answer their question/serve a purpose to them. I can then break down that post into tiny bits and have quite a few pieces to post about on my various platforms.
If you go to the search bar on Pinterest, when you click on it you will see a drop-down menu. If you scroll to the bottom you will see a header labeled “trending topics”. This is what is being searched at that moment on Pinterest. Does any of the topics fit your niche?
Sometimes I’ll go on a questions forum and search for my topic or niche. The search results will populate questions that people have in regards to topics in that niche.
Or, you can go the old fashioned way and just ask people what they want to see, or what they need help on. This is a great way to know what your target audience is looking for, rather than guessing (or hoping).
Another thing you can do (that I sort of mention above) is take old posts/content and revive them. You can change up your graphics (appeal to a different audience), add to what your first shared, update your previous information (like if there were changes in stats or algorithm, etc.)
After doing all my research I start drafting ideas for each social media platform I’m on. (I create content for FB x3 groups/pages, IG, Twitter.) Each platform requires a different type of post, so I have to adjust to fit the needs of that platform. However, you can still use the same information all across. This is also a good time to decide how many times a day you are going to post to each platform, so you know exactly how much content you need to come up with.
I have a notebook where I write all the ideas of content I’d like to share. I use it as a sort of brain dump, and write everything out with no regard to prettying it up (at this moment.) This process usually takes me a few hours (I’m planning for multiple channels after all.)
When I am done writing out the ideas I’d like to share for the upcoming month, I write out a monthly overview. I do this in Excel and create columns for the date, holidays and events, each of my platforms, my blog, my email list, my website, and notes. (Yes, I’m VERY extensive and organized hahaha.)
First thing I do is I write down any holidays or events happening in the month I’m planning for. This is sort of an easy way to get content, as these days are already planned! So you can create something around the holiday and not have to plan content for that day. (Even though I sometimes do anyway.) Holidays/events are great times to create sales/giveaways/discounts to entice people to purchase.
Next I take my ideas from the braindump I did earlier, and plug it into the spots for each social media channel. I currently only post once a day for FB/IG and between 5-10 times on Twitter.
I have created a few worksheets to help me in this process, and I’d love to share them with you to make your life easier! I know it’s helped me A LOT! Along with the worksheets, there are 30+ content prompts that you can use to set up your calendar. You can get these worksheets for free here.
Now that I have what I want to post and when I want to post it, I go and create graphics for 90% of my content. Sometimes I don’t need a graphic for what I’m posting on certain days.
I use Canva and Over to create my graphics. They both provide templates that are sized to each social media platform. This is extremely convenient, as you don’t need to figure out what size is the best size for Instagram this week.
I usually batch this process (create all my graphics at once) so that when it comes time to posting, I am already prepared. This can take a few hours as well.
So far I have done some market research, brainstormed my ideas, drafted my calendar, and created my graphics. The next step for me is to schedule my posts!
Currently, I am batch scheduling a week at a time. You can also schedule all your content at once. This is a personal preference. I prefer to do it weekly, as I can really sit and plan my captions, or go with the flow of the week. Or to just leave room to “add” in. If I know I’ll have a busy [few] weeks, then I’ll schedule my posts for that time so that I don’t have to worry about posting for the day, I can just make sure that I do my engagement at some point in time.
I use more than one scheduler for my content, and that’s because I prefer to have my content posted in a certain way (and each scheduler offers great [different] features!).
I use Planoly for my Instagram posts. Planoly offers a great drag-and-drop feature that allows me to move my future posts into the order I’d like them to post. This is great for creating my “theme” on IG. And there’s no guessing if I’ve posted in the right order! They even auto-post for you, so you don’t have to set your alarm and make sure you’re posting at your optimal times. I also schedule IG stories using Planoly, too! Currently, they don’t offer auto-posting for stories and multiple posts, but they do allow you to set them up and remind you to post at the time you want to. If you want to try Planoly for free, you can check it out here.
I use Hootsuite to schedule my Facebook and Twitter posts. Hootsuite makes it VERY EASY to schedule content at the times I want them scheduled for. A great thing about Hootsuite is that they auto-post, so you don’t have to worry about going back into the app and posting your content. They do it for you! Try Hootsuite for free at hootsuite.com.
Using schedulers are great time-savers and allow me to focus on other important parts of my business.
Content planning can be a pain, but if you have a plan in motion, it can be smooth-sailing. Once you get the “hang” of what you want to do and how you want to do it, you will shorten the time it takes you to plan your content each month. And when you get into a good rhythm, you will be able to plan your content for months in advance (like per quarter!).
Another thing I’ve noticed is that it is so much easier for me to think of “new” content because my brain is “trained” to break down older posts or revise older content. It has become FUN for me to plan my content and in turn, has allowed me to create better graphics, as well as captions to share with you all! I enjoy that I am able to provide more value for less stress!
Comment below on what you thought about this post, and if you’d also like to share how YOU plan! I’m curious to know if there is an “easier” or more efficient way. I also love to hear other’s processes.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with your family and friends.