Social calendars are a fairly new concept to many marketers and honestly most people ignore them entirely. However with Buffer announcing their own version, we decided now was as good of a time as any to help marketers understand best practices for optimizing their scheduled posts.
This was written from our perspective as a social media agency but really anyone can apply these fundamentals to their own personal or brand account if they want. It all begins with fundamentally reframing your approach using analytics to leverage your scheduling calendar as a crucial item in your tool chest.
Planning content correctly
Almost everyone I know decides to litter their calendar with links to interesting articles and quotes from industry professionals, which is fine. But what if we could refine our targeting even further? Before you go posting a link to some Mashable article you came across earlier last week, make the decision to be intentional with the content you share.
First pull up your analytics page within your personal twitter account. Then hop over to ‘Audience Insights’. You’ll then see a tab like this:
Then click on the ‘Overview’ tab for this example
You’ll be presented with a graph similar to below:
This is where the real meat of your following is. These metrics tell you what type of content your following craves and also showcases the type of people that end up following you. This helps you refine which types of people you should be engaging with in the future.
So after learning that the top interests and occupation of our followers we’ll be able to determine what kinds of articles and quotes to share with them on our content calendar. For example, seeing that our followers are interested in Tech News and Entrepreneurship we can start fielding content from tech business blogs like ‘The Verge‘ which happens to cover both types of content at the same time reaching a larger potential audience.
In the long run users will begin seeing the content on your channel becoming more in tune with their own personal interests and the retweets will bring in a significant following on their own.
Get time on your side
We’ve recently talked about finding your social half life to help better understand the frequency at which you should be posting. We’ll give a quick recap incase you missed it. All you have to do to find your ideal posting frequency is to monitor the amount of engagement your posts are getting after you post them and tracking how long it takes to stop engagement entirely. So, basically post to twitter and monitor engagement for a few hours until it tapers off completely. This will tell you how long it takes for your posts to fade into the masses.
So once you establish your social half life you’ll know how far apart you should be scheduling posts on your social calendar. For example, if you’re noticing posts lose engagement around the 3 hour mark you can schedule posts to arrive at 11am, 2pm, and 5pm each day. Now we can take this to a more specific level to optimize your timing by tracking which days work best for engagment. We can learn this by diving back into the Twitter analytics dashboard.
So the simple way to understand which days are ideal is by going into the ‘Tweets’ tab and examining the Activity graph as pictured above. Notice how twitter even tells us what our average impressions are per day giving a clear indication of what we should be expecting. We can proceed to take note of our overall impressions per day by dividing the number of tweets by the impressions for each day of the month. Enter the resulting numbers into an excel spreadsheet sorted by day and a clear picture begins to form as to which days consistently see highest impressions per tweet. I suggest you reserve your best tweets for these days specifically. Be sure to be more active in real time as well by engaging with your followers and retweeting when necessary.
Know your goals
I can’t stress this enough. Planning posts works best when you have a clear vision of what you’re trying to achieve during the month. If you’re attempting to be relevant and useful to your following I’d suggest never scheduling posts further out than 3 days ahead. However if you’re just trying to be a veritable ‘newsfeed’ of sorts then feel free to go as far out as two months ahead. Just be aware that even if you’re full scheduled for months at a time you’ll still need to be active on social in real time by liking and engaging with followers. An active account will see significant growth over on that is clearly just rehashing old links.
Now that you’re focusing on goals we can dive into our analytics to find the least cost path to achieving those goals.
Let’s say you’re just trying to optimize impressions for example.
We’d first jump into the ‘Tweets’ area of our analytics and proceed to the ‘Top Tweets’ tab where we can see what worked from the last month. You’ll notice a common trend among what’s been working and this will help you know which tweets to save for your best days that we determined in the step above.
However if you’re trying to appeal to our users on a personal level the Audience Lifestyle tab is extremely useful at finding ‘fun’ things to talk about with your following.
I suggest scheduling at least 1-2 ‘fun’ posts per week to keep things light and conversational. A great tab to check out is your users ‘TV genre’ interests. This could open the doors to chatting with users about the latest bronco’s game or take a poll on their favorite comedies from the 90’s for example.
When you’re scheduling posts it can be easy to forget what it’s like to be on the receiving end. There tends to be a psychological distancing when you’re writing a tweet in a calendar app. I suggest you pause before scheduling each tweet and imagine that you yourself saw it in your own newsfeed. Would you engage with it or even read it? If yes then proceed but if not it may be time to rethink your approach.