For those writers building platforms, a social media calendar is a must. Essentially it is a place to decide when and what you will post across your platform. You can also use it to analyze content productivity.
The first thing you need to decide is if you’re going to use an online interface or an Excel or Google spreadsheet. Online interfaces like Buffer, Postplanner or Hootsuite are great options if you only have a little bit of content or you want to pay for help with things like posting at optimal times, analytics of post engagement, etc. For most writers this comes down to what they can afford.
Either way you can create a simple 30 day calendar of social media posts in an afternoon, if you can answer the 5 W’s (who, what, where, when, why?)
First, WHO is your target audience?
Who are your readers? Sometimes it is easiest to start by creating your ideal audience. If you write contemporary romance, it’s probably a woman between the ages of 20-45. But your specific stories are going to define that further. If you’re writing about busy women in corporate America who fall in love with the opponent on the other side of the boardroom… your ideal reader is a woman building her career or who is just about to graduate college and pursue that career who wants to believe there is still hope to fall in love.
She’s busy. She stays connected by Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. She wants escapism, quotes that inspire her to believe in herself, articles that talk about how to make the most of your limited free time, perhaps something like quick meals (if your books talk about food), and to know when the next release will be and links to your kindle version.
Second, WHAT sets you apart as an author?
If you love food or have a hobby that comes out in all your stories in some manner, then use that to build content. I used food in the example above. But if your audience is suburban mothers, you might focus more on family meals. If your audience is college age, then creative cheap meals or replicating fast food they love on the cheap. See how that tailors to the audience?
Depending on your audience, you can also share inspirational stuff, interesting articles and research, and lots of other things. Christian fiction writers often share scripture quotes. Literary writers share quotes that create mental images. Historical writers share their research. Whatever you share, remember to be specific and consistent. If you have trouble deciding here’s a great list of content ideas.
You also need to know WHAT you need to promote. Do you have a blog? Book(s)? Newsletter? Where can you be found online? These posts will need to be your focus (20%), the rest is filler (80%) to keep your reader seeing your name and interacting with you.
Third, WHERE will you build your platform?
I suggest you build one or two platforms at a time. If you’re audience is young and/or busy, Twitter and Instagram will be best. If you’re audience spends more time at home, Facebook and Pinterest may be a better route. You can also usually cross post (when you post on one it automatically creates a post on the other) or use a program like Buffer, Postplanner or Hootsuite to put out content across platforms (these are services with free and paid versions).
Blogs are losing steam, except for non-fiction writers or those who have a specific issue to support like if you write fiction with rescue/service dogs. Then having a blog on rescue/service dogs might be a great platform to bring people in. Don’t blog if your audience is busy. They don’t have time to read it. Send out a monthly newsletter instead where they can get the digest version.
Fourth, WHEN you will post?
What days and how frequently. There are hundreds of suggestions out there. Here’s my favorite all in one easy-to-read post by Coschedule. My recommendation is to start small and build up. Post on the best days and times to get the hang of using social media and a calendar. Then each month add more content and more posts. Remember on places like Twitter you can have the same post on multiple days at different times to learn when/where that content fits best. Whereas on Facebook you don’t want to repeat content except for perhaps something like reminding readers to sign up for your newsletter or where to buy your book.
You can’t do this easily without creating a social media calendar. Whether you pay for one of the services above or use an Excel or Google Sheets keeping track of when/what to post is essential. Here’s a template you can download from Hootsuite.
Here are 3 tips to help you make the most a calendar.
#1-put the URL link to your post so you can easily find it again.
#2-Take time each week to comment # of likes/shares/comments. This will tell you what times and what content are popular (if you use an online scheduler they have analytics to show you these stats).
#3-Find your EVERGREEN content. These are posts you can recycle month to month like asking people to sign up for you newsletter or blog posts that are always a good read.
Finally, WHY are you doing this?
Why? Because if you don’t have goals this becomes pointless. Set a few goals. Perhaps increasing # of newsletter subscriptions or followers on your social media. Perhaps to increase book sales. Each goal has a different focus. If you want to sell books, then you need to make sure those book sales posts are getting click-throughs to buy. If you are trying to increase your email list, then you should see measured growth with each post. You may have to move things around to different time slots/days of the week until you find the sweet spot. Or try different hashtags. Need more advice? Here’s a cheatsheet by Postplanner with lots more details to help you understand how to do it right.
Do you have a social media calendar? Want to learn more? Join 10 Minute Novelists’ Facebook group and attend our chat on Sunday (or look in the archives afterwards).
Jessica is a prayer warrior who loves to encourage and teach others how to create safe spaces for the hurting and lost. In 2014, she graduated from Western Governor’s University with a B.A. in Educational Studies and published her first book, Surviving the Stillness. She has written for several blogs and online magazines and is an admin and contributor for 10 Minute Novelists. She also created and manages their annual 365 Writing Challenge, which encourages writers to develop the habit of writing daily.