If you have any experience in the social media management realm, you know that managing an organization’s social profiles can easily turn into a 24/7 job, especially if you don’t have the proper systems or tools in place. So, if you’re a social media manager (or if social media is just one of the tasks on your long, eclectic list of job responsibilities) this two-part blog post is for you.
In part two, I will share five free tools guaranteed to save you time and effort. But for these tools to be most effective, it helps to have a content calendar/social media plan in place. And that’s where we’re going to start today.
Personally, I don’t always have time to write tweets, take Instagram photos, edit YouTube videos, post Facebook status updates, and draft informative blog posts five to seven days a week. And I assume you other multi-tasking Animal Welfare Admins don’t either! Some days I’m lucky to be at my desk long enough to respond to Facebook comments.
However, there are some days when I feel especially creative and might have time to knock out an entire week’s worth of content. When you have days like that, having a content calendar is a life-saver. Why? Because then you’ll always know what needs to be done!
But where do you start? For me, I like to outline my shelter’s social media efforts an entire year in advance. It’s my December ritual, and I only have to worry about setting aside quiet time one afternoon a year. However, I realize planning a whole year may not be feasible for every organization.
No matter your situation, just pick a timeframe that works for you (although I would suggest a time frame no shorter than one month at a time).
My content calendar is my annual “how to” manual that never leaves my office. While the finished product may look a little intimidating and chaotic, all it took to map out my entire year of social media posts were the following three easy-to-follow steps:
Step 1: Mark the “can’t miss” days
Whether you prefer to work in an Excel spreadsheet, a calendar app, or on a paper wall calendar, start by noting all important dates. This can include:
- Important shelter events/seasons (Kitten season, anyone? Or maybe you run an annual adoption event?)
- Fundraising events (Annual walks, etc.)
- Holidays or dates your organization is closed or operates on an altered schedule
- Off-beat celebrations, such as National Volunteer Week or National Puppy Day
- Pop culture events, like the Academy Awards or the Olympics
Here are some helpful tools:
- The ASPCA has a really great shelter-focused calendar that will help you get this process going.
- BlogPaws.com has an entire year of pet-related holidays and themes to check out.
Step 2: Pick the medium (or media) to spread the word
Now that you have all of these important days to post about, you need to decide where and how you’re going to spread the word.
Which mediums are you most comfortable using? Which media do your followers engage with most actively? Keep these questions in mind when you brainstorm what content you should create and how you should spread the word.
Let’s use February 24, or “Dog Biscuit Day,” as an example.
For this holiday, do you want to:
- Film a recipe video of you making dog treats? You may want to post that video on Facebook and YouTube.
- Write a recipe blog post? That should probably go on your website, and maybe you tweet the link out.
- Record a podcast with a dog trainer discussing the benefits of using treats in Positive Reinforcement Training? In that case, uploading to your favorite audio-sharing platform is a given. Maybe you’d want to cross-promote the podcast on Facebook and Twitter.
- Take photos of dogs enjoying their treats? That sounds like Instagram-worthy content! Maybe your Facebook audience would like that as well.
Just make a quick note of the content you want to create/share and where that content should go.
Step 3: Fill in the gaps … but not all the gaps
As a general rule of thumb (for most social media platforms), you want to post at least three days a week. Knowing that, you may have some gaps to fill. You may also have just realized, “Oh my goodness, but I need to feature the animals, too!” Now’s the time to round-out your calendar with feel-good posts and furry friend info.
Talk about a needy animal that may be having a difficult time finding a home. Share rescue tales, always a surefire way to get attention and warm the hearts of your followers. Finally, feel free to toot your own horn and share program information you’re excited about (like your longest-serving volunteer celebrating his/her anniversary, for example).
But keep in mind: you don’t want to completely book yourself up!
Give yourself some wiggle room (at least one “dark” day a week). Things always pop up and your schedule will need to adjust.
Now hurry up and wait?
So, after all this work, now what? Sure, you can simply save everything you just wrote and set up iPhone notifications to remind you to post everything, but wouldn’t it be great if you could just schedule everything right then and there so it can go live at the time you originally planned?
Even better … wouldn’t you like to know how your platforms can do some of the social sharing for you automatically? Then you’ll want to check back for part two of this series, where I’ll discuss five free tools that work overtime so you don’t have to!