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A Foolproof Method for a Content Calendar That Rocks
Years ago, when I was first starting as an entrepreneur, I completed a social media marketing course online. It was a several hour-long, in-depth course that covered everything a person would need to know to get started as a social media marketer. I didn’t plan to work in social media at the time; I just wanted to know how to do social media better as a small business owner.
At the end of the course, I was utterly overwhelmed. I felt I couldn’t possibly implement all the ideas from the course as a small business owner who was wearing all the hats. I pushed a lot of the information to the side and instead focused on what I felt I could do myself, with what limited time I had to devote to my business. My business that ultimately failed.
One of the things I chose to skip over due to time constraints was a social media audit and a competitor analysis. I didn’t see how that would be time well spent on my part. That was a huge mistake.
Today, as a small business owner and entrepreneur who is now focused on helping other small and medium-sized businesses with their social media marketing, I am going to share with you why skipping the social media audit and competitor analysis is a huge mistake. It only takes a few hours a month, but it will completely change the way you approach your social media content creation. But first, some terminology.
What is a social media audit?
For today’s conversation, a social media audit is a thorough analysis of your brand’s past social media content. There are other elements involved as well, but if you’re a small business owner doing your social media marketing, this is a good place to start.
To complete the audit, get a piece of paper or a spreadsheet and look at all of the posts you have created on every social media channel that you are on. Take note of the likes, the comments, the shares, the clicks, and the views/impressions of each post. If you are crunched for time, think of the metrics that are important to you, and just track those. Also, take note of the topic of each post. When you are finished, take note of the top three posts and their topics. Ideally, this should be completed once a month.
What is a competitor analysis?
Competitor analysis is a thorough review of what your competition is posting on social media. You cannot dig into the metrics as deeply as you can with your content, but you can get an idea of what sort of content they are producing and how well it resonates with their audience. You will also see how often they are posting, and you can get an overall idea of what their social media strategy is.
As with the audit, you want to get a sheet of paper or a spreadsheet and take note of the likes, comments, and shares of each of your competitor’s posts, along with the topic or type of post. Is it a video? Did they share a blog from their website? Do they post the same thing on each platform, or do they seem to have a unique social media strategy for each one? Take note of the top three posts and any ideas or inspiration that come to you while reviewing their content. When you are done, review their strengths and weaknesses and then identify opportunities and threats for your content.
Transform your content strategy
When I started taking the time to complete an audit and a competitor analysis for myself and my clients, I was blown away by the results. This small step that once seemed insurmountable is now something that I refuse to skip. It is something that so many businesses that don’t have the luxury of keeping a social media marketer on staff are missing out on by neglecting this role.
Here are just a few of the benefits you will get by completing this step.
You will find inspiration for new types of contentInspiration for new content is something many business owners struggle with daily. Often you feel like you keep posting the same thing day in and day out. After a time, your content starts to feel stale. Completing a competitor analysis will inspire you for new posts and new content. Not only will you have an opportunity to see what your competition is doing differently, but you will also see holes in their strategy that you can create content to fill.
You will know what strategies and platforms work best for your fieldSome brands find they need to post multiple times a day on multiple platforms to meet their social media goals. Others find that posting once a week or even once a month does the trick. But if you don’t take the time to review what works best for you and what your competitors are doing, then the only brands you have to turn to for advice in this matter are the ones that probably have a bigger budget for marketing than you do. It is incredibly frustrating for a business owner to hear that they have to post 100 times a day to succeed, especially if it takes them an hour to create one post. But the companies you are competing with probably have a similar budget for marketing, and you will likely find they are not posting as frequently as you would expect.
You will have more confidence in the content you share on social mediaKnowing that your competition posts five times a week on Twitter, once a week on Facebook, and once a week on LinkedIn, with no presence on any other platform, will build your confidence in your own social media strategy. You can mimic what they are doing well and see where you are already doing better. The fear that you aren’t enough will greatly diminish once you look at what you and your competitors are doing.
You will save time creating a content planIt seems counter-intuitive but taking the time to complete an audit, and competitor analysis will save you time on content creation. It’s similar to the idea of buying a content calendar full of ideas for daily social media posts. Except you will use your research to come up with topics that resonate with your ideal audience instead of being cookie-cutter.
You get a really good idea of how your audience and engagement is growing over timeDoing your audit and going back to it month after month will help you to see what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong, month after month. While the analytics tools provided by some platforms are robust, it is easy to get lost in the numbers. It is also hard to understand what sort of long-term growth and engagement that you are getting. When you pick the metrics that really matter to your business and carefully track them over time, you get a better perspective on your overall performance.
This step has helped me to generate incredible results for clients who want tailor-made social media content for their brands.
After completing a competitor analysis on Twitter, one client realized that posting multiple times a day was ideal for their brand. But the posts could be recycled quite frequently due to the post-expiration time on the platform. This client planned and scheduled two months’ worth of content for Twitter in under three hours.
Another client realized that posting a weekly article on LinkedIn that summarized articles posted by others in his field with links to their publications was a great way to grow his audience. He surpassed his audience growth and engagement goals within two months.
One client found that her competitors were not using social media efficiently at all, so we decided to analyze a larger company with a bigger budget, just to get inspiration for new posts. We learned that this very large, international company posted the same content to all of their social media platforms each month. Realizing that she could cross-post some content helped ease the burden she felt to create so many unique posts for each platform all the time.
Knowledge is power
I’m not going to lie. I have used templates and cookie-cutter calendars for inspiration for client content creation for years. The content I created was good, my clients were happy, and their audience responded well to what I created. It’s what most agencies and businesses do when they create content. If you’re trying to churn out content to keep up with the Gary V’s of the world, then that’s what you do. Sit down and start creating stuff.
Now that I understand the power of these two tools, however, I will never go back to cookie-cutter content creation again. I don’t need someone else’s calendar for post inspiration. Because once I finish my analyses, I have a list of ideas that work. I can sit down and create a strategy that works. And I know that I won’t waste time and energy on something that doesn’t work, because my monthly audits and bi-monthly competitor analyses will catch a problem before it’s too late.
Wait! You’re not done yet!
An audit and a competitor analysis is only one small part of the content creation process. It is a vital first step that will help guide you for the next step, which is coming up with a strategy for each platform and a content calendar. Like the audit and the analysis, this seems daunting. But most small to medium-sized businesses, when armed with the knowledge they gain from proper research, will find this step can be completed in a few simple hours. After that, all you have to do is plug and play your content with a clearly defined roadmap that will make content creation a breeze.
For more on how to leverage social media, check out part 2 here
About the author
Chloe Longstreet fell in love with marketing on accident. While under contract to ghostwrite a book for a client, she stumbled upon the world of marketing, and it was all over after that.
As a small business owner on a budget, she stressed over the lack of actionable marketing tips for busy entrepreneurs on a budget. After working for an agency for a few months, she realized that a lot of businesses turned to agencies for this type of work. She also realized that a lot of business owners were paying for social media content that lacked strategy and direction because they didn’t fully understand how social media worked themselves. She decided she wanted to change that.
Chloe is currently launching a new social media marketing agency, The Social Expansion Project. The agency approaches content creation from a strategy-first perspective. The agency is geared toward smaller businesses, with multiple packages to choose from for clients. The packages are designed to be affordable for businesses with a smaller marketing budget and include coaching for businesses who want to handle their social media on their own eventually. Her dream is to help smaller businesses use social media to grow in a more affordable and approachable manner than the solutions that are currently available.
Cool fact! Chloe is one of the very few (if not only) people with the name Chloe Longstreet. That means she is super easy to find on social media if you want to follow her for more marketing tips!
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If you enjoyed this post and have a little extra time to dive deeper down the rabbit hole, why not check out the following posts on social media marketing.
- 5 Ways Social Media Impacts Your SEO
- 6 Reasons You Should Follow Your Competitors On Social Media
- How To Write Social Media Captions that Spark Engagement
- How is social media good for you and your business?
- 10 Social Media Ideas For Small Businesses
- How To Build A Cross-Platform Social Media Reporting Dashboard