Published September 14, 2011

Setting a Social Media Plan and Learning to Schedule Social Media Activities

We have discussed various social media strategies in previous articles - from developing a social media plan to finding your online target markets and even reviewing the different types of social media sites to leverage. However, even after you have accomplished all of these tasks, you still need to figure out how to set up your small business social media activity schedule.

A social media marketing plan, while beneficial when the proper strategy is implemented, can be hazardous to your time in a few ways, as noted below. That is why planning a social media schedule for you small business is vitally important.

Here are a few tips effective social media planning and scheduling:

Why a Social Media Schedule is Important

It has been stated over and over by time management professionals that if it does not get written down, it is not psychologically important in our subconscious and will "fall off the radar". Simply put, if it's not scheduled, it probably won't get done.

Developing a social media schedule is important for two reasons:

  1. Too much time on social media - Without scheduling your activities, you can easily fall into the social media "trap". That is, you can easily get sucked in to reading other updates, checking everything your followers say, responding to tweets and posts, etc. And the next thing you know, two or three hours have disappeared. Thus, scheduling helps to keep you on track.
  2. Allowing for learning time - If you are just starting out with social media strategies, you will need to budget some extra time to get up to speed on accessing all your accounts, writing new updates, and posting to your accounts.

Choosing Your Small Business Social Media Days

How should you choose your social media activities? Here are some ideas generally practiced by other small businesses:

Certain days of week? - Determine if you only need to update and monitor your social media accounts on certain days. Remember the rule of posting at least 2 to 3 days a week.

Every day? - You may have a popular social media buzz and need to spend a half hour to an hour each day responding to those who have posted to your accounts and creating new updates. In this case, consider perhaps taking time first thing in the morning.

Social Media Schedule: Choosing Your Method

How will you manage your social media schedule? Here are a few popular choices:

  • Calendar - A regular calendar, either written or digital, is a great option. Write it down in your FranklinCovey planner. Or schedule a recurring "meeting" with yourself on Outlook.
  • Weekly "To Do" List - Some folks like the old fashioned way of just writing down a "to do" list. If this helps keep you on track and gets it done, go for it.
  • Project Management Software - Some small business social media staff use project management software. This helps you keep on track with posting, attacking your social media marketing strategy tasks, and monitoring for improvements. It also gives you an easy way to assign social media responsibilities to different staff members.

Choosing Your Small Business Social Media Dashboard

Your social media plan should consists of a single navigation panel for all or most of your social media accounts. This "dashboard" will help you expedite and consolidate your activities. A social media dashboard gives you everything at your fingertips (or mouse pointer), allows you to do multiple tasks, and post to multiple social media channels. It also helps you monitor follower, fan, and friend response in real time in one place.

A potential list of good recommended dashboards include:

  • Netvibes - Netvibes is a free dashboard, but you can buy their premium solution for more features and flexibility.
  • Hootsuite - Hootsuite is another popular dashboard that connects to all the popular social media channels and helps you track results.
  • TweetDeck - This is a downloadable dashboard app for desktop or smartphone with one of the most extensive collection of social media channels.
  • Ubervu - This is a paid social media marketing dashboard that makes it easy to engage with your audience and check business results.
  • Unilyzer - This is another paid application that was designed for social media marketers to help save time, bring you trends, and streamline metrics.