To Schedule, or Not to Schedule? Finding a balance between scheduled and spontaneous social media marketing

Posted by Clayton Smith on September 10, 2012

Tick TockOne of Gremln’s most popular features is the message scheduler, which lets you set up your social media messages to post at a designated point in the future. The reason for its popularity is simple; time is an incredibly important (and finite) resource, and the more of it you can save, the better. We’ve heard it mentioned once or twice that time is money—which makes Gremln’s scheduler a tool that saves you a little of both.

Setting up your social media messages in advance saves you the time of logging in and posting them, one by one, at the best times for social media interaction. Heck, Gremln even has a bulk schedule tool that lets you upload and schedule an entire month’s worth (or, dare we say it, year’s worth) of tweets and posts with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Which leads to a very important question that we get asked pretty often. We make it possible to schedule all of your social media posts--but how many should you schedule?

There are two big characteristics that set social media apart from traditional media as a marketing tool; social media is interactive, and it’s immediate. Social networks make it possible for fans and customers to engage directly with business representatives, and they allow companies to post new content in an extremely timely fashion. Social media users have come to expect this timely, interactive content, so it's an important part of any social strategy. Posting to your social networks solely by schedule removes the timeliness from your messages, and it generally means you’re not responding to fans who are engaging with you based on those scheduled messages.

On one hand, you have a big savings of time and money. On the other hand, you have social engagement. Both hands are important to your brand’s social strategy. So where do you find the balance?

You’ll find a lot of varying opinions on this—some say you should have a 1/3-scheduled-to-2/3-spontaneous ratio, others say the split should be 50/50—but the fact is, it really depends on you and the communications strategy that’s right for your company. Maybe you thrive on constant interaction, and your number of scheduled posts is extremely small, or even nonexistent. Or maybe you’ve had proven success with a rigorous content calendar, and your fans know to expect “Guess the Flavor Mondays” and “Fun Fact Fridays.” You know your followers respond favorably to these traditions, and you can schedule 80% of your messages to fit your weekly content calendar.

Ultimately, it’s not the scheduled-to-non-scheduled ratio that matters; it’s your understanding of how both scheduled and spontaneous messages work, and how they can work together to help you build a better brand. There will always be a need for the immediate, “breaking news” style of posts, and there will always be posts you can set up in advance. But businesses operate dynamically, which means the balance between these two kinds of posts is ever shifting. Working toward a suggested ratio rather than posting the content that fits your brand can actually end up doing more harm than good, as you try to shoehorn spontaneous content that isn’t a great fit with your strategies, or as you struggle to find more content to schedule for next month. Your social strategies should be as dynamic as your business.

One of the best ways to keep a healthy ebb and flow of your scheduled-to-non-scheduled ratio is by keeping in mind that no matter how many messages you schedule in advance, it’s important not to view them as “set up and done.” Even though you’ve scheduled your posts and saved yourself some time by doing so, you should be prepared to interact with your fans and followers if and when they respond to those scheduled posts. Sometimes you’ll get a lot of interactions, and your number of spontaneous posts will go up. Sometimes you’ll get little or no interaction, and the number will go down. By preparing for spontaneity as part of your schedule, your ratio will find its own, natural equilibrium.

What’s important isn’t the numbers; what’s important is to listen to your fans and followers and strive to post the content that appeals tot hem the most. This strategy will lead some marketers toward a schedule-heavy social media plan, while others will wind up taking a highly spontaneous route. But don't be afraid to experiment with scheduled and spontaneous messaging. A good mix will make your social strategies more dynamic and, ultimately, more successful.




Topics: analytics, Business, business, campaign, crm, dashboard, facebook, google+, google plus, gremlin, gremln, linkedin, Marketing, media, network, ROI, social, social media, strategy, twitter

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