One of the first mistakes a business can make when they launch their social media channels is to start posting willy nilly without a plan.

A potential customer will likely visit your social media pages once, and within seconds they’ll determine whether you’re worth following.

To convince these new visitors, your social media pages have to be well-rounded, bursting with activity, and have recent posts.

Create A Social Media Plan Well Before Launch

After helping a few businesses out with their digital marketing and social media activity, I now take the stance of plan before action.

At my current company, OneSource Commercial Furniture, we are aggressively developing a social media strategy and calendar before we begin to post anything.

This is equivalent to any business practice – you wouldn’t launch a business, website, app, or product without fully realizing its components, would you? When it goes live, a social media page should also be fully developed, rather than going into it piecemeal.

Assign Themes to Your Weekly Schedule

The best way to think about a social media posting calendar is to create a few themes, assigned to days of the week. Whether you plan to post daily, or 2-3 times a week, you should have an idea of what those scheduled posts will contain.

For example, you could assign Mondays for tips, tricks, or hacks; Tuesdays to client love (#clientluv), Wednesdays to photos of your staff in action, Thursdays to sharing relevant posts about your industry, and Fridays to engaging with your community.

Left Jab Left Jab Right Hook

Whatever themes your schedule takes, it’s important to give a lot more than you ask. Most of the week should be about sharing, giving your social media followers something fun to get through their day. And only occasionally can you ask for something in return.

What’s an ask? Go to our site, watch this video, share this post, provide a comment, like or follow us . . . basically anything that requires people to do something for you.

Remember: left jab, left jab, right hook. Give a lot, then ask occasionally.

Schedule Your Posts

Once you have your weekly theme calendar set, you can start to create and schedule those posts to automatically publish on certain days and times.

There are loads of paid services out there, but Hootsuite is the gold standard and they offer a free plan that’s good enough for most small businesses.

If you want to create more advanced posts, like Instagram image carousels, you won’t be able to schedule automated publishing. Instead, you’ll get a reminder on your phone, along with the media and text you’ve pre-written, and you can then post when you’re ready.

For my buck, I think those semi-automated features can grow to become more nuisance than you have time for. So it’s best to stick with simple, single image or video posts.

Hire a Freelancer to Create Your Media Library

While it’s nice to have a dedicated staff to handle daily social media management and online customer relations, it makes sense to hire someone to create your generic social media content months in advance.

For example, you can hire a graphic designer or photographer to create the templates and content for your weekly posts about your business, staff, customer testimonials, industry trivia, and more.

And if you can swing it, hire a video producer to create a B-roll library of your office, products, and your people. Then you can have them – or your internal staff – create short 15-30 second video posts to schedule out months in advance.

Leave Room for Topical Posts

It’s all well and good to schedule social media posts weeks or months ahead, but you still want to leave room in your posting schedule for things that just come up.

Whether they’re sales, or holidays, announcements, local news – you name it. Give your calendar space for non-scheduled posts, so that your followers know there’s a real person behind the social media accounts, and not just a schedule robot.

Budget Some Money for Promotion

Finally, we have to realize that today there’s no such thing as free social reach. Most people don’t follow or like business pages as effortlessly as they used to. And Facebook, Twitter, and other companies don’t automatically publish your posts to your followers’ timelines like they used to.

So for posts that are important to you, there’s no way around the paid boost. Luckily, it doesn’t cost much to give your posts a leg up. Just $50 is enough to give one of your posts a jump start, and if the post is good, it will take on an organic life of its own.

The trick is to target your demographic so that you don’t waste your money. And it doesn’t have to be that complicated. You spend some dollars to reach your current followers with a post that’s designed for them, and once in a while you create an ad or boost a published post to reach people who haven’t already followed you.

In conclusion, it’s very easy to create social media accounts, but in order for them to have any effect on your business outreach, you need to create a plan and library of content well before you start publishing.