ask the expert | How to Create a Social Media Editorial Calendar for Productive Networking

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today we have a fabulous guest post from our expert partner in social media, Perna Malik from Social Media Direct. i love the ideas she has here to help us manage social media engagement for our biz.

One of the challenges that most mom entrepreneurs face when they come to me for consultations is the time that social media requires. Let’s face it, we only have a limited number of hours to work on our businesses and while we do know social media is important for us to create a community, reach out to our customers and boost sales, we don’t really want to get sucked into spending ALL our time on Twitter and Facebook, right?

I’ve been there more than once. After all, managing the social media accounts for several businesses along with our own means that I really need to be on top of things, all the time.

So, here is my go-to tool for focused, productive social networking – a social media calendar.

1. Identify Your Core Values

Begin by identifying 5-7 of your business’s core values. This would determine the essence of the messages you’d be sharing via social networks and ensure that you stay on track and don’t get overwhelmed by ALL the content that’s out there.

2. Outline Your Goals

Next, you need to know what you’d like social media to do for you. How can social media support your vision for your business? It is vital that the time you spend on social networking sites supports the end goals for your business in some way. So, spend some time on this step and outline your goals from each of the social networking sites that you’ll be a member of.

3. Create Themes or Topics for the Next 3 Months

Here’s the fun part. Once you know your values and goals, you need to brainstorm themes for the next 3 months. I like working on 3 months at a time, since trends change so fast in the online world. But if you prefer you can thrash out themes for 6, 9 or 12 months.

A good way to arrive at theme is by answering the question – what problem would I like to solve for my clients or customers this month?

Once you have broad themes in place, break them down into sub-themes – one for each week, if you’d like.

For instance, if you have a business that sells toys, your monthly theme can be Indoor Play and the sub-themes can include board games, creative or imaginative play, activity-based toys, vehicles and remote control, and puzzles and games. If you’re super-organized, break these down further into tips, ideas and brands, so that you have content for every day.

4. Put it All Together

Finally, it is time to put your calendar together. You can either use Google Calendar or Docs which is awesome for sharing and mobility or you could use a simple Excel document and chart out your calendar, print it out and put it up on the office bulletin board. Next, schedule some updates using an application like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. Third, schedule time in your daily planner for real time networking because a completely automated process would remove the ‘social’ from social networking.

A social media editorial calendar can help you focus your efforts, use the right tools for networking and optimize the time you spend on Twitter and Facebook.

Do you use a social media editorial calendar for your business? How has it helped you?

Prerna Malik works with ‘little’ businesses on their web content and social media strategy. Co-owner of Social Media Direct, she offers quality, customized support to entrepreneurs and business owners helping them to build better brands online. Be sure to sign up for a FREE one-on-one strategy session and move towards focused, productive social networking.