Yep, you read that title right: it’s time to think about the holidays. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are a little over a month and a half away, and Christmas and Hanukkah follow closely after that. It’s in your best interest to get ahead of the game now – so you’re not scrambling later.
Need a little more convincing? According to Deloitte, holiday sales are expected to increase by 4 percent this year over last. Even more important: In the mood for planning your Facebook holiday promotions now? Great!
In this post, I’ll guide you through the reasons why you should create a calendar for selling on Facebook, how to choose the right calendar for you as well as how to organize it, and finally give you some tips on how to schedule your content on your calendar.
The Importance of Using a Calendar
You may be thinking, “Why should I create a calendar just for a few weeks? My (insert other method here) will work just fine!” You may be right, but a calendar gives you a lot of added benefits, peace of mind being one of them. A big part of this is the visual element of a calendar itself.
Having a visual layout of your posts for selling on Facebook during the holidays can take a lot of stress out of executing your social media strategy.
When you can actually see what is being posted when, you’re much less likely to duplicate content. Facebook doesn’t like seeing the exact same post in a short timeframe (it sees them as spammy), and chances are your audience won’t either. They’re likely to unfollow you or tune you out if they don’t think you’re doing your best!
A calendar layout also makes it really easy for you to plug in post ideas that correspond with other specials or promotions you may be running. This can be super helpful with supporting your offline efforts, if you have a physical storefront or other type of brick-and-mortar business. It also makes it really easy to move things around if you notice any holes in your promotion strategy that you need to fill.
You’ll also be saving time and your sanity, which, let’s face it, is often at a premium during the holiday season. You can see ahead of time when your promotions are scheduled to be posted, so you won’t be scrambling at the last minute to put together a choppy status update and photo about those gift baskets that are 20% off TODAY ONLY.
Now that we’ve covered why you should have a calendar, let’s get into choosing one that will work for you and your business.
Choosing a Calendar Format
Everyone works differently and has different strategies for selling on Facebook, so one calendar solution isn’t going to be right for every person reading this post. I’ll go over a few different options, all of which I’ve tried and most of which are free. You may want to test out one or two, to see which you like best.
This is by far my favorite way to create a calendar. It’s simple, easy to format, and pretty much everyone already has a working knowledge of it. You have a couple of options here – you can download a pre-made calendar from WinCalendar, or just resize the cells to resemble a calendar format. You can also make them as big or as small as you’d like, as well as change colors and fonts to make it completely customized. Here’s a view of what I use for my day job managing social media at Grasshopper:
My favorite part of using Excel is being able to insert actual screenshots of posts I’m planning on using, so I can see any photos or other visual elements that will be included. That way I can make sure I’m not reusing images, or putting too many similar images in the same week. It’s also super easy to copy and paste posts to different days on the calendar, so rescheduling things is a snap.
Another resource that small biz owners have access to is an email account with a calendar function. Most often Gmail or Outlook are used, but other options, like iCal, generally function in the same fashion.
The nice thing about using an email calendar is that you can set up alerts to remind you when to post your promotions. You can also easily move your posts around to different days.
The only thing you won’t be able to do here is see any type of image or photo you’d want to include in your post, but you can attach it to the calendar event so you have everything in one place. If you want to get really fancy, you can come up with a color coding system for different types of posts so you can quickly see what’s scheduled when.
I can’t leave out the traditional pen-and-paper method. For some, physically writing something down works the best for organizing their thoughts. Again, you’ll have to get creative with your organization – color coding, highlighting and the like will probably have to come into play.
The main drawback here is that if you need to move things around, unless you’re using pencil, your calendar could get messy quickly. An alternative is to use a dry-erase board taped off into boxes to make a calendar template. You’ll easily be able to erase and rewrite as many times as you need. If you’re feeling crafty, you can create a fun one like this:
Organization and Scheduling Tools
If you have the budget and are willing to spend a little money, a web-based organization or scheduling tool may be the way to go. I’ll talk about two of my favorites here.
Trello is a great coworking app that is set up as “boards” with “cards.” But the really neat feature they have is a calendar view of your cards. You can title the card, put in a description and attach a photo you want to include in the post (as an example), and attach a due date to the card. The due date allows the cards to populate in a calendar, like this:
You can also invite other people to the board, so if you and your assistant manager are both managing social media, you can work on the calendar together and see changes in real time. This can help avoid miscommunications and missed opportunities!
As far as scheduling tools go, there are a TON of great ones out there, but I’ve honestly not found one that has a calendar layout like Agorapulse. It allows you to plug in posts and add photos, as well as giving a preview of the photo when you hover over the post. This is my calendar for my yoga Facebook page – it’s a little bare, but you get the idea:
The added benefit here is you can actually schedule the posts to be pushed to Facebook in advance, so you don’t have to worry about logging in and posting on a particularly busy day.
The only note here is that if you want to use the drag-and-drop function to move your posts around, you need to set them in your Queue, not as Scheduled. The queue allows you to see your posts in a handy list form, and you can move them around here:
And you’ll be all set to go!
Now that you’re aware of all the options for calendars that are out there, it’s time to cover the most important thing: how to schedule your posts!
Creating a Schedule
There is a process I go through when I actually start filling in my calendar: preparing and scheduling. This may sound like unnecessary work, but it really helps to make sure you’re covering all your bases with your promotions.
Step 1: Prepare your calendar.
Whenever I create a new calendar for Facebook posts, I first do a little research to see if there’s any relevant holidays or events going on that could tie into any promotions. For the purposes of a holiday calendar, you’ll want to take into consideration Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and Hanukkah for sure. You can also look into if there’s any local goings-on or other holidays that your audience/customer base cares about or celebrates. This will create the skeleton of your plan.
Next, think about any sales, coupons or other promotions you’ll be running during this time, and plug those dates in as well. This will allow you to see if any promotions overlap or correspond with other holidays or events. It will also help you to start thinking of content ideas for your posts!
Another step that you may want to take is designating different days for different types of posts. This can make it easier on you when you’re trying to figure out what content fits in where. For example, you might come up with a list like this:
Monday – “Jump start your week” one-day promotion
Tuesday – Link to a product on your website
Wednesday – Small giveaway
Thursday – Coupon or offer exclusive to Facebook
Friday – “Funny Friday” behind the scenes peek at your business – holiday edition!
Step 2: Schedule your posts!
Now you’re ready to start filling in Facebook posts on your calendar. At this point, you probably have ideas as to what you want to post – a one-day promotion, a week-long sale, or a special offer only available for your Facebook fans. Whatever they are, make sure you’re creating a variety of different types of posts to keep your audience engaged.
When you get to this stage, don’t be afraid to experiment with things, reschedule posts, or change them up. If you find that a coupon doesn’t do so hot on a Monday, try posting another one on the following Monday. That’s the great thing about calendars – you can see everything at once, so it’s much easier to shuffle things around so you can improve your results without getting everything out of sorts.
Give It a Try
In most cases, I find once you start using a calendar to schedule Facebook posts, it’s really hard to imagine life before it. Visual layouts, the ease of seeing when other promotions correspond with what you’re posting, and the ability to easily move things around really make calendars a great way to manage your social media strategy overall.
Do you use a calendar to plan out your holiday Facebook sales? Tell us about it in the comments!