Social media – if you wanna get ahead, get a plan. Done correctly, your social platforms will appear effortless but be efficient, bringing you high engagement that could and should lead to sales and success. Here are our 10 top tips to get you going.

1. Construct a spreadsheet

It’s called Excel for a reason! While it is easy to get distracted and bogged down in choosing a platform that will help you schedule or plan social post, it can be done with just a spreadsheet – the more columns the better. You’ve got the basics to start you off, like the Post Date and Caption Text, then it’s time to think about the process: Post Type (is this part of a repeating series), Status (try a traffic light colour coding system to identify whether it’s been designed, signed off, scheduled, whatever works for your workflow), Artwork (once a post is designed it might be useful to see it along side others, to make sure that they appear how you intended).

When constructing your spreadsheet, imagine someone else in your team is reading it. If you were off sick and a team member needed to take over the post planning, have you handed over all the relevant information in a decipherable format? You could easily whip up a Key, to really clear things up. Download our template to get started.

2. Make it personal

Every business has a story to tell, and when you’re up against your competitors online, you’ve got to make sure that that story is as personal as possible. Whether your team is large or small, you’ll have a plethora of unique personalities, skills, opinions and interests within your workforce, so talk to them and see what you discover. What do you all have in common? What makes you different? Aside from work, what else is important to you? 

Spotlight posts or takeovers can be a great way to showcase the talent in your team. This could take the form of a get-to-know for a particular member, or a day-in-the-life look at a department. Your social posts will be influenced by a fresh pair of eyes that still falls under your company’s umbrella.

3. Don’t forget to brag

What speaks better for your business that the work you produce? If you work in the creative industry in particular, you will have ready-made visuals to post up to your grid or feed. Imagine these posts as an advertising opportunity, and a peak into your portfolio. 

Present your projects at any stage of their development, not just in their final, polished stage. Viewers will find it interesting and intriguing to see a project build and develop, and a lot of fun can be had creating ways to represent this evolution. Mix that us with projects from the past – everyone loves a throwback. Use a #throwbackthursday or #flashbackfriday to present pieces from your archive, and your work in situ.

Social isn’t just for creatives: show off your comfiest seat in the cafe, workout tips or challenges from a PT, or even the cute dog that visits your boutique. Don’t be afraid to brag about your achievements or if you find that difficult, get someone else to do it for you! Reach out to your clients for a testimonial.

4. Be aware of awareness days

Taking note of #AwarenessDays can be super useful to your content planning, whether it inspires a new campaign or strategy, or simply allows you to have a bit of fun with your followers. You may find sensible holidays (World Book Day, International Women’s Day), but how about those quirky ones too? Do you know when Squirrel Appreciation Day or National Buy A Musical Instrument Day is? 

Okay, okay – you might want to pick ones that are a little bit relevant to what your business does, but there really is a day for everyone and everything and they can spark conversation with your audience in unexpected ways. Look for days but also months – here are a few to get you started:

January: Veganuary

February: National Weddings Month

March: National Nutrition Month

April: Stress Awareness Month

May: National Clean Air Month

June: Pride Month

July: National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

August: National Breastfeeding Month

September: Friendship Month

October: Black History Month

November: Movember

December: Universal Human Rights Month

5. Get on the hot topics

Aside from obscure awareness days, what else is going on in your community? Look to your local resources: Are there events happening around you that you can post about, or better still get involved with? If you’re talking to families, what’s happening in the school year? Are there summer holidays or a half-term coming up?

Bank holidays, saints days and traditional or religious holidays are dates usually known by most people, but think further to non-traditional, recurring events that might make in into people’s diaries, like sporting events (Olympics, Wimbledon, World Cups, Cup Finals), charitable events (Wear It Pink Day, Christmas Jumper Day, Secondhand September), and televised events too (Comic Relief, Eurovision, Oscars, BAFTAs).

Make sure to check out what these events are offering online. Most will have hashtags or branding that changes each year, so you’ll want to make sure you’re looking current alongside them.

6. Team up and tag

It can be tough getting your numbers up on your social platforms. You may choose to search the web for accounts to follow in the hope they follow back, but this process can be long and tedious without any guaranteed success. We’d never advise opting for a bot service; it’s easy to tell when accounts have genuine followers and when they’ve just been bought in. 

Consider a collaboration. Is there someone with a good following (both their follower numbers and likes and comments on their posts) who ties in with your brand aesthetic or ethos? You never know, they might already follow you. Once you’ve found a few people, reach out and chat to them. Some influencers may already have collaboration requirements set out, but others will be happy to find a middle ground if those requirements are harder for you to stretch to. If money is tight, suggest offering them a free product or service instead. 

Remember, it’s a game of give and take. If you shout about them, they’ll be more inclined to shout back about you.

7. Give your artwork an A+

Just like judging books by their covers, you want to make sure that at first glance, your social posts are eye-catching – no matter how good the content is, if they don’t look appealing, it’s likely engagement will be low.

There’s three factors to consider – consistency, legibility and share-ability. If multiple people are designing posts for your feed or grid, what’s consistent to ensure they’re coming from the same voice? This could be as simple as the colours or fonts used (a brand guideline will help here) – anything that makes the visual instantly stand out as you. 

Make sure your post is easy to read, not just the written word but images too. Do the colours look as good on screen as they do in print? Would your image be bettered by a brightness boost (it could be time to level up from dodgy-looking filters)? It may also be relevant for you to consult Accessibility factors, for example, did you know that Facebook and Instagram use AI technology so that screen readers can describe images to the visually impaired? To learn more about inclusive and accessible design for social media, read this.

If someone sees something they like they’ll be sharing it, so if you’re designing something specific to you, you might like to find a subtle way of putting your mark on it, to make sure credit always comes back to you.

8. Get to know your #Hashtags

To hashtag or not to hashtag… it’s a debate still unsolved. Use too few and your post won’t be seen; use too many and your post may be lost in the masses. Instagram suggest using 9 different types of hashtags: (1) indicating your product or service; (2) indicating your nice in your industry; (3) for Instagram communities in your industry; (4) for special events or seasons; (5) for locations; (6) daily hashtags; (7) those with phrases relevant to what you do; (8) those with acronyms and (9) those with emojis.

“Use a variety of hashtags on your posts and stories, so your posts can reach different communities. For instance, if you have a bakery in NYC, you can use #nycbakeries to reach those looking specifically for bakeries in NYC, but also use #bakerslife for those who are interested in your day-to-day life as a baker.”

They also suggest rotating between hashtags to find the best mix, or creating your own (you can follow specific hashtags too, so posts using the tag will appear directly on your feed).

No matter what the hashtags are make sure you are writing compelling content (and use a spellchecker!). Be aware of platform restrictions such as character counts, or the fact that links do not work in Instagram posts, to help make your call to action clear.

9. Think outside the square

Every day social platforms are changing, from the options available to how users are adapting them. With the latest developments leaning more towards video, it’s time to jump on the Reel bandwagon. Don’t worry, you don’t have to learn a new dance or master the art of video editing and transformations – start off with a simple talking head video, or a behind-the-scenes look at your business in action. 

If you’d rather stick to the grid, how can you get creative with your posts? You can pin posts to the top of your feed, or design multiple posts to sit together (across a whole row or in a 3×3 format). Intriguing posts get noticed, so consider mixing these into your social plan.

10. Scheduling website

We can’t be online all the time (even a social media manager needs, y’know, a social life). For those moments when you can’t be there to click the button, make a scheduling website your new best friend. Link up all your social platforms and post across them all in one go. You can use their tools to auto-schedule or promo you to do so, with the artwork and caption ready. Choose your own date and time or go with one of their suggested for the best engagement. 

A website like this will be sure to take the stress out of social, allowing you to plan and post at a time that suits you, with previews so you can see exactly how your posts will appear when live. You can also refer back to them to see which performed the best.

Got an idea but not sure how to execute it? Get in touch with our experienced team.