Are you stuck every week wondering what to post on social media for your restaurant, winery, or other business? Get to the end of the week and realize you forgot to post at all? Or are you continually missing ideal promotional opportunities because you realized a social media “holiday” or other opportune digital moment has passed and you’re too late to capitalize on it? (leaving all opinions about those made-up “holidays” aside for now…)
You know that consistently showing up on your brand’s feeds is crucial to building a following and an engaged customer base online. Or if you don’t, read why here. The gist? If you post consistently, your followers will engage with your posts (think: like and comment on them) more regularly, and the algorithm will then deem your content “interesting” to them, thereby showing your posts higher in your followers’ feeds. This earns you more eyeballs on your posts about your new menu items or wines.
But you (and I) also know how busy you are, especially if you’re the owner or manager of your business. You may not have a dedicated employee or consultant working on your social media, or marketing at all. Competing business priorities mean that social media is often forgotten – let alone addressed and strategized on a daily basis. (Which is not ideal, because when it’s based on analytics, social media can be a real revenue driver for your brand, like it is for my clients!).
Nevertheless, social media neglect happens, and I don’t blame you – but I am here to give you some tips for staying better on top of your social media marketing goals!
Plan Out Your Social Media Posts Ahead of Time Using a Content Calendar
This is where a content calendar comes in. No more scrambling to think of a post at the last minute. Instead, create a social media posting calendar for yourself, where you can plot out important dates, and what you want to post on those dates (or in advance of them!).
Once you organize your key dates, and how often you want to post on social media about them, you can also include draft captions, notes on which images you plan to use, important hashtags or people you want to remember to tag, and what time of day you want to post. And don’t forget to specify which platforms you plan to post on – because if you’re following social media best practices, you’re hopefully tailoring your content to what works best on Instagram, vs. what performs better on Facebook, and so on.
Organizing Everything You Want to Post into a Content Calendar
There are many ways to do so, and every social media manager has their own preferred method. I live and die by Google Sheets – so I would create a spreadsheet for each of my clients organized into tabs for each social platform, then rows by date, then by the focus or priority for each post. From there I fill in each row with draft captions, and links to the photos I plan to use, and then I would share the docs with clients for approval. I would do this 1-2 weeks in advance for all clients – that way I’m only spending a few days per month on actual content creation, leaving me more time throughout the month to track results, strategize, and supplement with spontaneous posts as needed.
You can also set up all of this information in good old Microsoft Excel, or even create each draft post as an alert in your calendar. The added benefit of using a real calendar is that you can set it to notify you when it’s time to post. Project management tools with calendar functions can also notify you, too: popular platforms include Asana, Monday, and Trello.
If you’re not using a tool that notifies you when it’s time to post, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of checking your content calendar every day (or however often you’ve decided to post), that way you know what your social media focus for the day will be. While this added step to your morning routine may not sound thrilling, the good news is: you will have already planned out the posts for yourself ahead of time, so all you need to do is copy your caption and paste it into your social media channels!
You may have also heard of social media planning tools that allow you to automatically schedule posts in advance (like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Planoly, etc). My preference is to draft all content for clients in Google Sheets first, and then schedule their posts in a scheduling tool once the captions and images receive final approval – but some people do use them as content calendars and for drafting, too.
Remember That Some Social Posts Can’t Be Pre-Planned
Everything I’ve just told you above was about saving time by planning content in advance – but you know what? Sometimes, a spur-of-the-moment post you think of while preparing your business to open for the day can be equally as effective. It’s smart to supplement your more sales-driven, promotional, pre-planned posts with something fun, like a behind the scenes shot of your food prep or wine cellar, to keep your content interesting for your audience. And it’s important to keep a little wiggle room in your content calendar for slotting posts like this in. When I would look at analytics for my clients, sometimes these spontaneous posts would out-perform their pre-planned posts because of their whimsy or a beautiful image of perfectly chilled rosé.
Congrats – you’ve completed my introduction to content calendars! Got further questions about how to create one? Comment below, or get in touch.
Thanks for reading!
Meaghan Webster is a marketing specialist for wineries and restaurants. An experienced wine and food photographer, social media and website manager, and designer, she’s worked as a marketing consultant for wineries and restaurants in Napa, Virginia, Washington, DC, and New York. She currently works in-house at Far Niente Winery in Napa Valley. Opinions expressed in the blog are Meaghan’s own and do not represent her employer or clients.