fashion-man-person-handThis is a guest contribution from Tom Van Buren.

Scheduling updates in advance solves a number of social media’s most frustrating problems. It gives your routine newfound flexibility, and it can even make you a better blogger. But there’s one hurdle that scheduling alone doesn’t take care of for you: those updates still have to come from somewhere, and that means you have to write them.

Part of the appeal of scheduling is that it stops social media from interrupting your life every time you want to post an update, but without a sound strategy for actually writing those updates, you might just be trading one type of frustration for another. This post will show you how to write social media updates by the batch, so you can more easily grow your fanbase and drive more reliable traffic to your blog.

Think about more than just your own traffic

Social media is an invaluable resource for driving traffic to your own website, but getting carried away can do more harm than good. Forty-five percent of users cite excessive self-promotion as a reason why they would unfollow a brand on social, which means your strategy has to be a lot more refined than just sharing your own links.

Break down your typical updates into categories by type, so there’s variety to the content you share. In addition to posting links to your own blog posts, for example, you might also use social media for posting tips, linking to useful content on other websites, sharing inspirational or funny quotes, and so on. (Quotes and tips in particular are useful for getting shares, which can help you grow your audience.) These categories will guide you through the next step of the batching process: actually writing your updates.

Save time by writing in blocks

If you regularly schedule your social media updates, you might already be writing them in batches – just very small ones. For example, you might set aside time every morning to write and schedule your updates for that day. While this works in theory, it prevents you from developing a big-picture strategy, and it isn’t saving you as much time as it could.

Use the categories you defined to write as many updates you can within a certain time frame (much like the longstanding Pomodoro Technique suggests). Take 20 minutes to write as many updates as you can promoting your various blog posts, then another 20 for tips, and so on. Writing as much as you can within a certain time period gives you the ammunition with which to load your schedule, and it helps you build and maintain creative momentum as you go.

Writing bigger batches like this may seem like a major time commitment, but think of it like making a weekly trip to the grocery store instead of going every day. It may feel like you’re spending more time at the store, but for as long as the groceries last, you’re not wasting time on things like planning meals, making your list, driving back and forth, unloading the car, and so on. Once the work is done, it’s done.

The amount of time these updates last will vary depending on how often you post, but there’s one final step you should take to make sure that you get as much out of them as possible.

Save your work and re-use your updates

Without the right plan, social media marketing can feel like a neverending zero-sum game – you work hard writing updates, but once you post them, they’re gone, and you start again from square one every time you run out.

This cycle of always starting over from nothing is a major waste of time and your work. If you’re posting to Facebook and Twitter five times a day each, you might be writing as many as 310 brand new updates every single month – more than 75 per week. That’s a lot of effort to put into a task that doesn’t add up to anything.

Instead, maintain a document that saves your status updates. (Spreadsheets are particularly useful, because they allow you to organize your updates by category.) Every time you write a new batch of updates, add it to your document, so that over time, you build up a library of updates from which you can choose ones to schedule. Eventually, you’ll be able to write batches less and less frequently, because you can choose from the updates you’ve already written.

Why post the same update more than once? In addition to saving time, there are two big reasons:

Most of your followers don’t see any given update

Every time you post an update to social media, you’re trying to hit a moving target – and no matter what network you’re posting on, that target is pretty small. Consider these statistics:

  • Most Twitter users don’t log on even once a day (and 40% log on less than once a week)
  • The average organic reach for a Facebook page is about 7%
  • 87% of LinkedIn users log on once a week or less

Only a very small segment of your audience is likely to see any given update you post on social media, so if you share the same thing more than once over time, it’s unlikely anyone will notice – and you never have to feel like you wasted time writing and scheduling a post that didn’t get any traction.

Evergreen blog content drives more traffic

New social media followers always have something in common: they’ve probably seen very few of your updates from before they started following you (if they’ve seen any at all). If they’re new to your blog audience, then they’ve probably been exposed to very little of your blog’s older content, too.

Your evergreen blog posts are literally as good as new to anyone who hasn’t seen them before. If you’re not continually promoting those posts on social media, they’re gathering dust in your archives and going to waste.

This is why it helps to categorize your updates and save them over time. Maintaining a growing stockpile means you never have to go back and write new updates promoting old posts – you can simply keep your existing updates that promote evergreen posts in rotation, so they’ll continue to drive new traffic. Neither your social updates nor your blog posts go to waste, and the work you put into writing both generates cumulative results over time.

If you schedule your social updates in advance, how often do you set aside time to write them? And if you haven’t tried scheduling before, what’s stopping you?

Tom VanBuren is the content and social media manager for MeetEdgar.com, where he writes about social media and online marketing.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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