Social media is a time thief. It steals my attention away from what I should be doing (working, spending time with friends, cooking dinner, playing with my son) and leads me down countless rabbit holes to retail sites, blog posts and news articles.
But for businesses it presents an opportunity – an opportunity to reach new audiences, build loyalty with customers and convert browsers into buyers – and that’s what we’re looking at today: how I use it for business by creating and scheduling optimised strategic content that supports business growth.
I manage lots of business pages for clients – limitations on my time mean good organisation is key, so I love to plan my content and schedule it for the week so I can then move on to other tasks and return to Facebook purely to engage with the audience and respond to comments.
It takes about an hour a week to write and schedule posts for a business page – not too time consuming, leaving plenty of time for playing with my son (oh, and working on other stuff).
Here’s the process I go through every week:
What are my objectives for this week?
I look at the wider business goals. Do we have a special offer to promote? Do we have late availability that needs filling? Are we launching a new product or service?
Or perhaps there’s nothing new to announce and the main focus is simply highlighting some of the things we know customers love: the location, the facilities, the food…
Here are some possible objectives for a holiday cottage business:
- drive 100 visitors to the website from Facebook
- generate 50 shares from posts
- gain 75 new newsletter subscribers
- achieve ten new bookings for next month
What content will I share?
Now I know what I’m trying to achieve with my Facebook posts, it makes it sooo much easier to create the content.
Let’s take the first objective; if I’m trying to drive web traffic, I need to have something that readers are interested in seeing on the website – posting a link to my website’s homepage probably isn’t going to attract that many clicks, but publishing content that I know they’ll want to read is a different matter.
Is there any evergreen content on the blog that’s relevant and of interest to readers on Facebook? Or do I need to write something new?
As well as content on the business’s website, I also like to include other people’s content. To have a regular flow of good content from others, I need to make sure I’m following relevant pages who share fab content that my audience will love.
This take a bit of work to set-up, but once you’ve ‘liked’ some decent pages you should always have something in your newsfeed to share to your page.
Use Facebook’s search feature to find some pages that share good content that you audience will love.
Once you have found some pages which are a good fit, ‘like’ them as yourself by hitting the ‘like’ button below their cover photo. Now when you visit your own newsfeed you’ll have some more new content that you can share that your audience will enjoy reading.
Here’s how you can share a post from your feed to your business page:
Ideas for regular posts:
Now you have a plan of what you’d like your posts to achieve this week, you have a regular flow of relevant content from other pages that your audience will enjoy, what else could you add into the mix to keep it varied and interesting?
Regular themed posts is one way to plan your content – it makes your life easier and your readers come to know what to expect from you.
Innocent post a photo of the stapler from the 4th floor every Friday:
What regular posts could you add to your publishing schedule? #ThrowbackThursday is a common hashtag used when sharing content that reflects on the past – photos of the shop as it used to look, video of the local village fifty years ago, a photo of your logo when you first launched. This type of content shows a more personal side to the business and builds loyalty through heritage and story-telling.
Perhaps you could have Photo Friday, where you share a picture of the scene from your window? Or Monday Madness, where you run a special offer.
Link back to your business objectives and plan some regular types of post that help you achieve them.
What visuals will I use?
Without wishing to sound like a broken record, photos and video are currently big on social media – the amount of video appearing in Facebook newsfeeds has increased almost fourfold since last year, images increase engagement by as much as 80% and video apps such as Periscope, Hyperlapse and Blab are driving continued growth of social video content.
So when you publish your Facebook updates, you’ll want to include images – but dimensions are important. Share a photo in portrait and you could lose half of it in a busy newsfeed.
Thankfully there is a fantastic free tool that solves all your image sizing problems – Canva is a free online tool, with the essential elements of Photoshop that enable you to create branded graphics (including Facebook cover photos) and visuals to use on social media.
When creating your posts in Canva, there is a dizzying array of fonts and graphics to choose from, so be sure to stick to your company fonts and colours otherwise you can end up with a confused mess of different styles that do nothing to build your brand online.
Simply click ‘Facebook post’ at the top of the Canva homepage to get your blank image, perfectly sized for Facebook’s newsfeed, and start adding your own photos, logo and wording.
How will I schedule my posts?
Once you’ve sourced photos, links, videos and graphics you’re ready to start scheduling your posts.
- Write your post as you normally would, then instead of clicking ‘Publish’, click the small dropdown arrow next to it and select ‘Schedule’
- Choose the date and time that you’d like your post to publish to Facebook and click ‘Schedule’
- You can see how many posts you have scheduled at the top of your timeline
- Check dates and times of all your posts by clicking the link at the top of your timeline (as shown in Step 3 below) or by clicking ‘Publishing tools’ above your Facebook cover photo
Writing it all down like this, it sounds really long-winded, but trust me – once you get into the swing this is a swift, efficient way to maintain a presence in the newsfeeds of your Facebook fans.
- Plan your content (remembering your business objectives)
- Create your visuals in Canva
- Schedule your updates from within Facebook
And with all the new free time you have, enjoy all those things you haven’t had time to do – plant some vegetables in the garden, start making Christmas cards, catch-up on your accounts (urgh), phone an old friend – just don’t get caught up watching cat videos on Facebook….