Most small business owners understand that to compete in today’s noisy digital age they need to have a presence on Facebook and/ or other social media platforms. But for many busy business owners, knowing does not turn into doing. The best of intentions for consistency can easily be swept aside to the other hundred tasks a small business owner conducts. Then before you know it, it’s been several weeks or months before you posted and the entire effort to have a Facebook presence is fruitless.
Like many matters in life, consistency and time are keys to success. Success on social media is no different.
If you want to effectively create engagement, build brand equity, earn credibility and trust with your audience, AND have all of those elements equal sales, repeat business, and referrals for your business, you’ve got to have a strong and consistent social media presence.
Obviously other factors contribute to the previously mentioned scenarios, but now, more than ever, social media is one of them.
There are a number of social media platforms with considerable user volume and growing clout, many of which should not be ignored by small businesses. For this piece, I’m going to focus on Facebook. Facebook has become the ubiquitous social media platform and the one, above all others that most small businesses should not ignore. *Note that when choosing a social media platform for your business, the rule of thumb is to go where your audience is. If your audience is on SnapChat, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn or anywhere else, use these guidelines for those platforms instead.
The best way to create a much-needed presence on Facebook is to get organized with a social media calendar. Not just any calendar however, a simple calendar you will actually follow regularly and not become another neglected item on your ever-growing to-do list.
Here are the top ways to create a social media calendar you will actually follow:
Invest Time Now to Benefit Later
Block off 1 hour on a single day to get the foundation in place needed to do everything else on this list. If you do it right, you will spend less time in the future and will be organized for success. Seriously, physically block the time off on your calendar and look at it as an important meeting you won’t miss. Then KEEP THAT MEETING!
Write Themes & Topics for Every Day of the WeekÂ
It’s hard to come up with new stuff to post about every day, so put a general topic plan in place for every day. Chose topics and themes related to your business that are interesting or engaging to your audience. Be sure to include personalized and humanizing topics that will help your clients relate to your business. For example, a fitness center client of mine did ‘Trainer Tuesdays’ where they highlighted one of their employees or trainers every Tuesday and ‘Throwback Thursday’ where they posted old photos of themselves and other fitness legends from years past. Their audience loved the 80’s workout outfits and they got huge engagement with this.
Keep in mind you can mix in your original content, like pictures, tips and updates about your business and employees, with curated content from other sources. For example, post current articles related to the state of your industry on Mondays and a lighthearted story your audience would enjoy on Fridays.
Create a Simple & Shareable Calendar
This calendar is the guide for keeping your business organized and consistent with Facebook posts. Keep it simple or you won’t do it and you won’t get the benefit from it.
- Create the calendar on a shareable Google Sheet to simplify collaboration.
- Create weekly chunks along the rows with each day of the week listed down the rows.
- Create columns for date, time, post topic, post content, post message, links/ attachments (for links to blog posts, article or photos), and ‘posted by'(to plan ahead for collaborative calendars.
- Oftentimes it’s beneficial to color code each topic /theme and have a key at the top to follow each week. This helps during those slow weeks.
Set a Goal of Consistency
A reasonable starting goal is to post at least 5 days a week. Then stick to it! Consistency over quantity matters here. It’s better to post 3 times a week for 1 month than twice a day for 1 week and never again. The number of times you post a week does depend on your audience, but 5 times is a good rule of thumb because you have to assume that unless you’re boosting posts regularly, most of your posts won’t come up in your audience’s feed. Start with the bite-sized goal of 5 times a week, do that for a few months and build from there.
Pre-schedule Posts in One Sitting
It’s best to do this at the beginning of the week so your foundation is set and then you can pepper in sporadic happenings throughout the week. These sporadic or timely posts; like a client gift, photo from an event or a fun update, are bonus posts for your page. If you are truly having trouble finding new post ideas, reschedule one of your pre-scheduled posts for a different day to make room for this timely post. But always post your timely events. There are a number of tools available to pre-schedule social media posts, like Hootsuite, Buffer, Bitly, and Sprout Social, to name a few. (Here is list of the top 12 tools out now). But do NOT use any of these for Facebook. Facebook’s algorithm opposes pre-scheduling software and your posts will be even less likely to show up if you use these tools. Instead, always pre-schedule posts within Facebook. To do this, use the drop down arrow at the bottom right of your post and select schedule. Here’s is Facebook’s step by step instructions.
Encourage Collaboration From EmployeesÂ
Many business owners think they have to either carry the burden of social media themselves or don’t do it at all. Most of your employees are likely already on at least one social media platform regularly, likely Facebook, so ask for their help. You can easily add a trusted employee partial access to your page by adding them as an admin to your account. If you don’t want to give them the ability to physically add posts for your business page, ask for their ideas on content and have them add those ideas to the sharable calendar (see tip #3 above).You might be surprised to hear their perspective. I recently asked a client’s administrative manager if she had ideas for Facebook posts and she listed off many excellent ideas neither the business owner or I had considered. People who are at your business all day interacting with your customers will have a great perspective on what your clients will find interesting and engaging. Tap into this resource.
Make It Fun & Engaging For Your AudienceÂ
No one wants to constantly be sold to. In fact, Facebook is now penalizing for content that is not engaging. Here is where the 80/20 rule should come in. Only post about promotions 20% of the time and use the other 80% for rich content that is entertaining, interesting, relevant, timely, or authoritative. Social media is intended to foster engagement and interaction and no one can interact with a post that just says, “come buy our stuff, it’s awesome.”
Just Jump In
I recently had a client whose Facebook page was dormant for several months and it had clearly become this heavy burden to her. I created 2 weeks of posts for her to just jump-start the process again and she saw instantaneous activity. She had interaction with followers, new page likes, and engagement with other businesses in just that short time. She even created a few of her own posts that weren’t on that calendar. Sometimes it just takes some positive reinforcement to get the ball rolling for you.
Review Your Analytics For Facebook, you can find this in the “Insights” tab of your business page. Not only is this a valuable assessment of your efforts, but it’s also encouraging to keep doing it. Analytics will allow you to see what types of posts get the most engagement with your audience. This will help you tailor future posts and continuously improve your organic engagement.
Note: The above recommendations are to help with your organic engagement on Facebook. In addition to these tips, I recommend supplementing your Facebook posts with boosted posts and Facebook ads, as Facebook’s algorithm makes it difficult for regular posts to come up organically in much of your audience’s newsfeed. I also recommend installing the Facebook pixel on your website.