In a small business, the task of posting on social media usually falls to the owner. It can be fun at first, and you might have professional photos of your products or services to upload. However, as the business takes off, creating content can feel like a chore, or worse, fall off altogether.
According to Lara Betthauser, social media manager for the Yelp and Yelp for Business social media handles, that’s a big missed opportunity. Social media is your voice, your brand and the personality of your business in a digital medium. You can’t be face to face with every customer, every day, but your online presence can.
So how can you turn this chore into a creative and fulfilling extension of your brand? Lara, who recently launched the Yelp’s Instagram Page for Business, suggests developing a social media content calendar, i.e. an overview of your upcoming posts, organized by date. “Like everything else, planning is the roadmap for the future. If you don’t have the planning it can make it a really daunting task,” she said.
Below, Lara shares her own tips and tricks for planning social media content. Whether you’re launching your profile for the first time or revamping an older presence, a solid game plan can help alleviate some of the stress of posting and bring back the fun.
1. Set the cadence for your content calendar
You can create a content calendar in any format you like. Lara recommends using Later, Stamp, or one of these formats. other planning tools, depending on your business needs. Get in the habit of updating the calendar regularly, at the rate you choose.
“Even if it’s a week or two at a time, I really suggest companies sit down, see what content they can put out so they can focus on other things during the week,” he said. Lara said. “Obviously social media is important, but if you don’t think about it, it’s one of those things that’s going to be easily crossed off the list.”
Document your ideas, the schedule and the channels you plan to release them on, for example, a “behind the scenes” Instagram reel of sauce and condiment making on Monday, so you can give yourself or your team realistic deadlines.
However, understand that plans change, things happen, and events will interrupt your scheduled programming. Planning ahead will give you the flexibility to adjust. “Things are always going to happen,” Lara said. “But at least you have content that you push back over the next month, still having backup content.”
2. Plan holidays and seasons
It might seem daunting to fill a month with original content ideas, but you don’t have to start from scratch. According to Lara, your own calendar can serve as inspiration: what are the upcoming national days or cultural months? Do you celebrate birthdays or events? If a public holiday is approaching, do you change your opening hours or organize a sale?
While the holidays are good markers for content, be sure to highlight occasions that are relevant to your business and audience. For example, if you run an apothecary and gift shop, it wouldn’t make sense for you to create content around National Burger Day, but you would have celebrate the summer solstice.
“You don’t have to say there’s a ‘National Day Whatever Day’ every day to help [fill out] your content schedule, but it can definitely take the pressure off of planning things further in advance,” Lara said.
And if you have an upcoming event, consider highlighting it in a video or post. While not all of your followers will be able to attend, they want to know what you do and how you interact with your community, from farmer’s market pop-ups to Yelp Elite events.
Pro tip: Use online calendars like this to search for upcoming national days, cultural months, etc.
3. Schedule permanent content
Once you’ve filled your calendar with urgent content, you’ll likely notice gaps. This is where you schedule your permanent content, i.e. content that is not tied to a specific date or time of year, so it always remains relevant. This type of content is also extremely valuable because you can rerun it multiple times with different angles and messages.
According to Lara, behind-the-scenes clips are a great starting idea for evergreen content. “Since you’re talking to people online, some of your followers may unfortunately never visit your business,” she said. “They don’t know what the inside of your business looks like. They don’t know what your storefront looks like. They don’t know about all the fun things you do or the artwork you have on the wall.
These visuals are all possibilities for evergreen easy and quick content – just pull out your phone on a slow day and shoot. Other successful formats include:
- A day in the life: Paint a picture of your day as a business owner. Put together short clips of you opening the business, having your coffee, and preparing products for the morning rush. For example, if you run a bakery, show the team taking your croissants out of the oven.
- Meet the team: If you have an employee of the month, or any other employee who is comfortable in front of the camera, do their The talent. What is their favorite menu item? How did they develop their unique skills? Share them with your followers in a quick, forward-facing video.
Pro tip: Lara uses the free InShot app to add transitions, music or a text overlay to video clips. For more tool tips, check out these recommendations from Anne Faire, Yelp’s San Diego Community Manager.
4. Evaluate your performance
At the end of your planned posting period, whether it’s two weeks or a month, take the time to evaluate how your content is performing. It’s not just about the number of followers you have – for a small business, an engaged audience is often more valuable than a large one.
“Has anyone commented? Has anyone shared it with anyone? Has anyone saved it to their profile, especially Instagram? You want to see what works well and try to put themes together to see how you can incorporate that in the future,” Lara said.
And don’t be hard on yourself if a message doesn’t go as planned; this exercise is simply to help you discern what you should be doing more of and what isn’t worth your time.
Lara also suggests checking out the profiles of other like-minded brands and seeing what works well for them. “Find other people, maybe not competitors, but other people in your market that you could check out to see what they share,” she said. “There are some great channels, especially on Instagram, that you can start following to get different ideas…Watch what they’re doing and see how you can replicate and add your own spin.”
Lara’s Instagram recommendations:
Content creation doesn’t stop when your videos are published. Scrolling through your comments and tags, set aside some time to respond, Lara said, “Once the content is out, make sure you stay engaged and in touch with your audience. Take 5-10 minutes a day to see what you’re tagged on Instagram. Engage. Reshare. Comment.”
You also have another wealth of content at your fingertips: Yelp reviews. Engaging with reviews isn’t just good for your reputation, it can also fuel your future content. Think about ways to reuse your reviewer feedback and, in turn, invest it even more in your content. (As a rule of thumb, ask before sharing customer reviews on social media or putting them in a video.)
Curious about how to turn Yelp reviews into engaging content? Lara suggests tapping into another great resource: your employees. “If the review is about someone in particular, do a ‘Yelp review read’, then pan to the employee the review was about and ask how they feel, or just put a spotlight on him and spin stars,” she said. “It’s a great way to shout out to your employees and show your potential customers what experience they could gain.”
Interview with Emily Washcovick and editorial contributions by Holly Hanchey
These lessons come from an episode of Behind the review, the weekly podcast from Yelp & Entrepreneur Media. Listen below to hear the conversation with Emily and Lara, or visit the episode page for more, subscribe to the show and explore other episodes.