Many small businesses in Australia operate their social media marketing with a scarce or non-existent plan. Without a social media calendar it’s not hard to see why – business gets too busy for social media planning.

Sure, you may have a marketing vision, a brand feel, and a regular pattern of posting, but have you actively mapped it out? Do you have a fully populated and deftly managed social media calendar that stretches beyond next week?

Of course, from time to time, you may have to react quickly to the market and push out timely posts. But you should always be able to rely on a pre-planned calendar of events when pursuing professional social media marketing.

Figure out your social media content and channel mix

First, lay down your expected social media platform and content mix. This includes platform decisions and posting variety.

  • Which platforms will you use?
  • What gets you the best reactions, click throughs and business outcomes?
  • How many link or photo posts?
  • What about blogs?
  • How many videos or livestreams?
  • Leave room for reposting relevant content from bigger players and invite guest posts if suitable.

Construct a reasonable timeline of events

Now that you have a good idea of what you’ll be posting and where, you can get realistic about your frequency.

Think about how much time you’ll have to tend to your social media marketing and pencil down a weekly or monthly set of expectations.

Most business owners can quickly and instinctively turn around an Instagram photo post for example, whereas a blog post or curated video will clearly eat through more hours. React accordingly and come up with an achievable (yet still aspirational) set of goals in your posting schedule.

Now go ahead and dot these down in a weekly calendar before you take the next step.

Grab a cloud-based workflow app with a calendar option

With your calendar draft ready, you should now focus on professionalising the structure of your working social media marketing model.

Instead of using your email calendar or an Apple/Google solution, use a proper workflow app. Apps like Trello, Asana or Monday excel in this area and are almost indispensable when it comes to astute social media management.

  • Not only can you set up a separate ‘board’ for all your social posts, but you can also add tasks, links, files, images and all the elements you need to create your intended content.
  • Once you’ve set your tasks (or cards), you can use the same board to generate a calendar view with all your intended posts laid out, ready to be ticked off once complete.
  • Better yet, you can tag and add colour codes to your cards to give you a user friendly schedule of events, according to post type and destination.
  • By using a cloud-based solution, you’ll always be able to view and update your calendar regardless of your location or device.

By improving task management, with the combined benefit of a calendar view, your efficiency will skyrocket.

Work ahead of schedule

You should be setting aside time each week, fortnight, or month to plan and create your content calendar. Also make sure you have a rolling content mix ready for action when the time comes.

By spending a few hours doing this future focused work, you’re saving a good chunk of time in the long run and reducing daily stress. You’re also able to formulate a more wholistic marketing strategy that may also involve ads, email campaigns and blogs.

Get onto an automated social media managing solution

Apps like Hootsuite or Buffer are a fantastic way for busy small business owners to manage several social media platforms at once.

When you set up your account you can link your solution to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. and have them all sitting in one panel for birds-eye management.

This allows you to post to several accounts at once, saving inordinate amounts of time. You can also pre-fill a social post and schedule it in advance, according to your calendar.

As a bonus, you can also use this single control panel to reply and react to your own posts or user responses, further cutting down on hours spent tending to various platforms.

Analyse, report and reconceptualise

Once you’ve got a couple of months of social media activity under your belt, you have the required data to refine your marketing efforts and make necessary adjustments.

To do this, you can use the analytical capabilities of the social platforms themselves, or apps you already have like Hootsuite. You can even go all the way up to more involved and dedicated platforms like Sprout Social for granular social media reporting and management.

However you approach it, you should be regularly reporting upon and reviewing your social media content to gauge what’s working and what’s not.

This data should then influence your original calendar, as a lot of it would have been educated guesswork when you first started planning. Learning from previous activity and evolving your strategy is the name of the game.

So instead of shooting from the hip with your small business social posting, get organised and pre plan your strategy for a much higher chance of marketing success.