March 5, 2020
By Crystal Lengua
It is difficult enough to stay on top of multiple social platforms today—to monitor them efficiently and strategically is its own dragon to slay. This is especially true if more than one person is responsible for managing the digital marketing side of the business. Keeping everyone on the same page is critical to ensuring one is running a well-oiled machine.
Modern-day digital marketers make use of social media calendars to plan and stay ahead in the game. These calendars are essentially spreadsheets or apps used to lay out content by day/week/month throughout the year. They also help marketers decide when and what needs to be shared with the audience, manage project campaigns, and track deadlines.
Sharing social media calendars with the team can be extremely beneficial for managing internal workflows as they allow graphic designers to view schedules and plan their designs/content in advance. This allows room to discuss the nature of content, when and how it should be marketed, promotion strategies, etc. Since it is a working document, changes can easily be made to the calendar anywhere, anytime.
There are many reasons why many businesses are going from liking to loving the idea of social media calendars.
No missed opportunities
Pre-designing content takes the stress out of creating/designing on the spot and leaves room for any last-minute changes in the schedule should anything (including increased workloads) become a distraction. There is nothing worse than being bogged down with work crisis and suddenly remembering a holiday closure post needs to be designed before the end of the day. Rushing through content at the eleventh hour will inevitably result in a poorly executed design or negatively impact the timing of when the post is shared, all of which can be avoided if the post is planned in advance.
Enhanced work efficiency
Initially, it may seem like a lot of work and time goes into planning the content; however, one must remember developing a schedule for the year in advance does not necessarily mean one has to design every post along with it right away. It simply means creating a skeletal framework of content allocation for each month/week, and developing a theme based on holidays, specific weeks or months, charitable focuses (such as drowning prevention), industry-related news, company products, etc. Once this outline has been formed, one can work toward shaping the content during slower times so the design team can plan their artworks accordingly. This content strategy helps improve the overall work efficiency and, ultimately, gets more work done.
Team has full visibility
When all the team members are able to see what has been planned for the year, it gives them an opportunity to provide their creative input and also be on the same page—months in advance. Using monthly themes is a great way to plan and execute content and encourage the team to submit their ideas. This can be done through content brainstorming sessions held once a month or an email address set up internally for recipients to submit their ideas. Including all the company employees in the ideation process and letting them know they have a voice is even better (even if their ideas are not implemented, it is good practice to encourage people to contribute to the process and be part of it).
Some calendar apps/platforms offer scheduling options (Hootsuite sends the content to the business’s social media account), while some serve as a hub for information to be shared by the team, such as Trello, which is the author’s personal favourite. The author likes to plan content for the year in advance followed by scheduling posts on a week-by-week basis. This method helps minimize errors when posts are made public and also allows the material to be changed depending on industry news, social or political influences, product- or company-related issues, etc. If the content is scheduled months in advance, one could miss deactivating or deleting a post, which may be hard to retract once it has already been published.
Some calendar apps/platforms offer scheduling options (Hootsuite sends the content to the business’s social media account), while some serve as a hub for information to be shared by the team, such as Trello or Monday.com. The author likes to plan content for the year in advance followed by scheduling posts on a week-by-week basis. This method helps minimize errors when posts are made public and also allows the material to be changed depending on industry news, social or political influences, product- or company-related issues, etc. If the content is scheduled months in advance, one could miss deactivating or deleting a post, which may be hard to retract once it has already been published.
Another strategy the author recommends is consistently monitoring the business’s online platforms. The author checks her social media/digital marketing channels on a weekly- or biweekly-basis for quality control. Often, one may forget what they had scheduled to post; therefore, they can add their ideas into their chosen program and share the calendar with their team. This allows the recipients to see who updates what as each member has their individual sign-in and can keep track of all the edits made to the calendar. These apps also store all types of media uploads for future access. Monday.com doubles as a great overall project management tool—not just a calendar planner. It allows users to upload attachments, monitor project status, send updates to team members, assign projects, and more, which makes it a more advanced platform of the two (and slightly more versatile).It is recommended one tries out different content calendars to see which one is best-suited to their needs. Some customer relationship management (CRM) companies like HubSpot even provide a free template. If one looks up ‘content calendar template’ on the internet, they will come across some excel and word formats, which can be downloaded.
One can even start the content planning process a couple of months before the new year. All one has to do is print a copy of the calendar—month by month—and tape the blank pieces of paper to the wall of their work station. The next few months can be spent randomly filling in content for the upcoming year. There are various posts one can plan in advance.
1. Major holidays
It is a good idea to post content specific to holidays such as New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Halloween, etc. These posts can either be in the form of simple greeting messages or tailored to point to products that moms and dads may like. Companies can even conduct a ‘12 days of Christmas contest’ to get their social media followers involved and showcase their holiday spirit. Another great opportunity is International Women’s Day (March 8), where businesses can plan a shout-out for women in the aquatics industry.
2. Fun holidays that work with the industry
These days will take some research, but are meant to be more fun than anything. One can simply google ‘fun holidays of 2020’ to get a list off the internet—one just needs to be sure they choose reputable sources for downloading these because these posts are meant to go viral. TimeandDate.com is a great source and has an extensive list of whacky holidays.
These types of posts have become very popular on social media and include days like ‘National Doughnut Day.’ If one is in the retail sector and has a doughnut floatie to post, now is the time. Other days that relate to the pool and spa industry include Flip Flop Day, National Selfie Day (one can take a pool selfie and share the contest online), National Relaxation Day, Swim a Lap Day, among many others.
Note: Posts can be customized based on company events, too. That said, one must keep their company branding in mind. If the brand voice is serious and to the point, one should refrain from experimenting with such post types.
3. Industry events and trade shows
If a company is a regular exhibitor at industry events and trade shows, such as the Canadian Pool & Spa Expo, they should use such occasions to create a buzz online. These posts can showcase interesting activities at the event, share photos, etc.
4. Important times for the business
Content can be planned around important times of the year such as when homeowners open/close their pools. These posts can discuss hot
tub maintenance practices, servicing techniques, winter maintenance tips and tricks, new products and equipment for pool openings, etc. Services that a business offers for upkeep in the summer deserve to be promoted on social media, too. Assessing the company’s busy and slow periods and when the business sells more products and services can help plan posts to promote these.
5. Promotional campaigns
Once a company is able to gauge which of their products/services sell at different times of the year, they can create advertising and marketing campaigns to promote these. For this, one should figure out the type of content they want to use—whether it is pictures, flyers, or short videos. The latter are still a social media must-have, so planning how-to videos or product reviews can be highly advantageous; however, they do take some planning (and sometimes a budget).
6. New products or accessories
Is the company introducing a new product or service? If so, this is the chance to create hype around the launch. Does the business need its followers’ opinions on a potential idea? This can be the basis of a post. Sometimes pool manufacturers want the public’s opinion on fibreglass colours for the next season, in which case they should plan to ask them. Businesses should not be afraid to leverage their social skills. After all, online audiences comprise consumers who will eventually purchase these products, so knowing their thoughts is important. Besides, this information is free, so companies should take advantage of this opportunity. Posts that carry safety information about accessories, tips and tricks for safe installation, and best practices have a positive impact as they show the business cares about its customers.
7. PR opportunities
Companies can write a press release and submit it to the local newspaper. The write-up or story may not necessarily make the headlines, but knowing when the content would be beneficial to the public is a wonderful opportunity to potentially make waves in the community. News agencies and local publications are constantly looking for articles that discuss consumers’ best interests. The aquatics industry affects multiple areas of people lives; therefore, companies should use their expertise to be noticed.
Some items worth covering are:
8. Internal posts
This is a no-brainer. Companies can post content internally with regard to holiday hours and changes to business hours, including times when the store is closing early or is open when most shops are closed. One can even plan to promote store events, such as ‘how to test your water,’ and get the community involved to learn for free.
It is important to remember not everything can be planned in advance, and not everything one posts has to be company-centric. Posting information that is helpful for the audience has a positive impact on the company’s branding. When creating content, one should consider what their audience would like to learn or know more about. This is an effective content strategy. A few tips and tricks are great additions, too. Also, reposting on platforms, such as Twitter, helps create a community, so do replies and comments, which build audience engagement. Sometimes a post is not planned, it just happens. Social media calendars are effective tools in freeing up those sporadic opportunities and allowing businesses to go with the flow.
Crystal Lengua is the director of sales and marketing at SMP Ultralift and is also the president of the Pool and Hot Tub Council of Canada (PHTCC). A graduate of marketing, public relations and corporate communications, professional sales, social media marketing, and event management, she has positioned herself as a leader in digital and traditional marketing methods. She is currently attending the University of Waterloo part time for an undergraduate degree in recreation and leisure and is working toward certification in mindfulness meditation at the University of Toronto. Lengua has written multiple pool- and spa-related articles and is a member of Pool & Spa Marketing’s Editorial Advisory Committee. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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