How to achieve amazing consistency in posting to your social media accounts
How solopreneurs and freelancers can operate like social media marketing pros
When you look at people that do social media marketing for a living - folks who do amazing consistency for a living, they all have a few things in common. I call them the Big Three.
They use a content or editorial calendar informed by metrics
They pre-program their posts to publish at optimized times using a scheduler
They produce high-quality content worth consuming
These folks also often have a team, some experience, and access to resources.
But in this brave new digital world, you can operate like a pro. You can build a team and you can use the free versions of the tools the pros pay for to get you launched.
Here’s how I did it.
My first step was to build a premium community within my business called GoGoPublish. It’s the ultimate accountability for me, but also, having others around means support for tough times, input for struggles, and someone there to celebrate with me when I hit those milestones! We're social creatures and don't thrive in isolation, I've learned that accountability and meaning from working in a community works for me, this is why it might work for you and make the seemingly never-ending task of posting to social media easier and more effective for your business
Of course, we’d love to have you join us, but no matter what, I encourage you to find someone to take this journey with. Humans are social creatures - we don’t thrive in isolation.
Once I had a bit of support (and therefore more courage), I leaped into The Big Three.
How to build a better content calendar informed by social media metrics
I’ve managed social media for two small companies and now my start-up, GoGoDone. Each one ended up focusing on a different outlet and a different type of content. With each, I’ve felt a push to be everywhere at once, posting prolifically.
With that unrealistic frame of mind, I’d be left asking myself what the next step would be for building a content calendar to support the goal to be everywhere at once posting like a maniac?
The next step was clearly a glass of wine. Clearly.
What is the next step for building a content calendar to support the goal of posting twice a week on my LinkedIn company page? Hm...I can think of a few but I can do it without a glass in hand...
The absolute BEST advice I can give based on my experience is start small and simple.
Here are the next steps I recommend:
Pick ONE outlet that your audience is most likely on. Post at least once a week and no more often than 5 (unless it’s Twitter).
Set aside 30-60 minutes to Google “content calendar templates” and just browse. I have never found a template that’s just right for me. I always tweak it for my unique needs.
Set aside 30-60 minutes to play with a spreadsheet (or one of the templates you found) and come up with something that feels doable. Don’t spend too much time on it - as soon as you start USING it, you’ll find things you want to change.
Fill it out for one month. Plan to share content you have already created. Follow the 80/20 principle with your content - 20% of your time creating it and 80% of your time promoting it.
Tweak it as you go and at the end of the month, set it up for the following month.
Here’s an excerpt from one week of my calendar.
Only once I was posting consistently did I start thinking about metrics. Since I’m still new to the game and my posting frequency is on the lower end, reviewing once a month is good for me.
I use the free version of an online software product called Databox. In Databox, you can build your own dashboard connected with the data of your choice. They integrate with anyone and everyone so when I start cross-posting to Twitter, I can just add those metrics to my dashboard or create a Twitter-specific dashboard.
Below is a snapshot of my Dashboard with my October numbers.
You’ll see along the top, I’m focused on engagement with my posts and page. If people aren’t interacting with my content, I have a content problem. Engagement with posts is also what gets social media sites to show the post to others (impressions). Along the bottom, you’ll see overview information and information about my followers. Right now, I’m focused on impressions since I’m so new. Very soon impressions will be less significant. I’ll trade it for a business conversion. For me, that will be clicks to the website or one of my program landing pages.
Information about my followers is important. Since I have a target audience or customer avatar, I like to monitor these to be sure I’m appealing to my target. If you don’t have a target audience outlined yet, seeing who you are already resonating with should give you some hints!
The sweet spot in the dashboard for me is looking at my top “Updates.” These are the posts that got the most interactions i.e. what my followers were most interested in. I use this as my inspiration for what to put in my content calendar. Whatever is hot, I do more of that or a relevant spinoff.
No matter what, if you’re just starting, track the following metrics:
What posts are performing the best
Data about your followers
In the GoGoPublish orientation, we spend two days on these components (metrics included). We also have ongoing work sessions where we can work together to tweak and evolve what we’re doing since we learn over time.
Be patient with yourself and give yourself the space you would give to a beginner. It’s a process of learning, not a one-time “aha!”
How to find the best times to publish your social media posts
The most frustrating thing about posting to social media is when you put in all that time and energy into beautiful articles and posts and they don’t get seen.
Social media sites use an algorithm to determine how frequently to put your content into peoples’ feeds. Each one is different but they all are interested in how much interaction there is within your post the first hour after it’s posted, The Golden Hour.
In GoGoPublish, there are two times during the week where we promote each other’s content to give us a boost with the algorithm. Those times are specifically selected as optimal times to post for interaction based on research.
If I were going it alone, I’d still post during these optimized times to give myself the best chance to get some interaction for my post.
A good starting point to find the best time for you is Googling “Best times to post in XYZ” where XYZ is your social media outlet of choice. Look for articles that sum up data from the previous year. They will not all agree depending on the data they look at. Read a few and find the commonalities.
Keep in mind that your audience may be different than what the masses do. One company I worked for had huge video view rates Friday evenings and Saturday mornings on Facebook. No one was recommending those times! We looked at our data over time to learn this.
I have a resource document in GoGoPublish that gets an update early each year. We come from different industries so I use the data from the masses here. If you’re just posting a couple of times a week and thinking to yourself, “Heather, just tell me when to post!”, I recommend around noon in the Eastern Time Zone of the US on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The bulk of the US population (75-80%) live in the Central and Easters Time Zones. If you have a service business in Seattle, don’t follow this advice! But you’ll be pretty safe to start experimenting with the same days and times within your own time zone.
Once I determined what times to post, I entered it into my content calendar and into my scheduling software, Buffer. This is where I plan and program my posts in advance. When I finish a blog article, I note in my content calendar when I’m going to promote it and then build and schedule each post in my post scheduling software. With Buffer, you can connect three social media outlets at no charge and program up to 10 posts.
A note for freelancers: as of the writing of this post, fewer and fewer platforms are supporting the personal pages of Facebook and Instagram. It’s likely LinkedIn personal pages will go next. This is to create a dividing line between those selling and those consuming. All outlets are in the business of paid ads so they want you to specifically have business pages.
Whether or not you plan to buy ads (not a bad thing to consider), you will want to build a following on a business page. All of the tools will be integrating with business pages as will the analytics and metrics. Start by publishing to your personal page and sharing those posts to your business page until your business following grows. Then flip the equation.
How to make great social media content worth reading
The real answer to this lies between you and your customers - so keep looking at your metrics. The closest approximation you can get before publishing is peer feedback.
It’s not easy to put your work in front of someone and ask for feedback. My natural inclination is to post, cross my fingers, and run.
I have been getting regular feedback on my content now for over two years. It is the single best (and hardest) thing I have done to improve. As authors and creators, we know what’s in our own heads. It’s only from another person’s brain that we can determine whether what we’re saying matches what others are hearing.
I still cringe a little when I get constructive feedback, but now I associate it with content I can be proud of. I associate it with a better product for my audience. So, of course, it’s part of the game in GoGoPublish - and a required part at that.
So, grab that work buddy and set a date to trade drafts and flex that courage muscle!
Besides getting feedback, the way you format your post makes a difference. Here’s some low hanging fruit to consider.
Every post must have a graphic! If you’re linking to another page and it pre-populates the header image or another graphic there - that counts.
Overlay catchy text on that graphic. The text sizes in your post are controlled by the social media outlet, but you can have large text overlaid on graphics. For royalty-free graphics and easy text overlay, we use Pablo in GoGoPublish.
Know your keywords and use them! Use them in headings and subheadings. Use them in the text of your posts. CoSchedule has tools for text, headlines, and email subject lines for this.
Whatever you do, you don't have to go it alone
The best thing I ever did for my social media was to get others involved. You don’t have to go whole hog and start a community - that’s just what works for me. More simply, you can reach out and find a couple of friends.
Find people whose work you respect with a complimentary audience. Set times on your calendar to connect and work on locking down The Big Three. Share your work with each other. Process your problems and struggles together. You will learn faster, produce better content, and ditch those feelings of isolation.
And for heaven’s sake - never celebrate another victory alone!