Having a plan of action is a necessity when planning your social media marketing. It makes sense to know what’s coming up next instead of scrambling to throw something together. You’ll be more effective at engaging with your followers if you have a well thought out campaign.
The first step in creating your marketing calendar is to establish the key events that will be occurring for your business over the next 12 months. Do you have an annual charity event, Christmas sale, Mother’s Day special? Take those top, off the top of your head, events and mark them in your calendar. Note when you want to start marketing for the event and when the marketing for the event will end. If you are hosting a contest, put the dates for the contest start and end times and when the winner will be announced.
Your calendar should be as comprehensive as possible without becoming cluttered. Use the calendar to highlight the key elements of the event, not every last detail. You should have a separate marketing plan for each event that gives the event details in… well, great detail.
Now that you’ve established the top events, start to add in other marketing opportunities. Maybe you want to add a new sale for the Fall this year or a sponsor a new charity. Perhaps you might decide to put on a contest around a holiday, like Valentine’s Day or Halloween.
This post isn’t about marketing strategy (we’ll get to that another day) but I want to point out that you shouldn’t over schedule your calendar. It’s perfectly okay to have something planned every month and depending on the types of events, maybe twice a month. However, you don’t want to overlap events if possible and overwhelm your followers. If you have too many activities, one right after the other, your clients may start to become uninterested. The excitement about your events will start to wane because there’s no time for the “build up”.
Remember that this is a perpetual calendar. When January 2013 ends you should add January 2014 to the end of your marketing calendar. Having a 12 month view of your social media marketing plan will help you keep your strategy inline. Even if you decide that next January you want to do nothing like what you did this January, seeing that blank calendar month will keep your wheels turning. You’ll know that you need to come up with something new and fantastic for your followers.
You can use iCal or Google Calendar to create an online marketing calendar. With an online version you and your team can view and make changes to the event. There are also options to make the calendar visible to others but locked to changes. When I owned my boutique, there was no “team”. It was just me so I used a large, notebook style calendar that was easy to carry around. I would jot down marketing ideas and make changes as I thought of them. I would then add the event start and end times to my online editorial calendar. This worked for me but an online version may make more sense for your business.
Keeping your social media marketing plan laid out for 6-12 months will keep you organized and moving forward. It will keep you from frantically trying to put a new campaign together last minute and allow time to creatively come up with the most engaging ideas.
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