Last month we wrote about the value of having a social media posting schedule, and talked about the steps you could follow to put a schedule together.

We received a ton of great feedback from the post!

One of the questions that really stood out was, “How can a busy business owner actually stick to this schedule?”

Having a schedule is one thing; following through with it is something completely different.

As Constant Contact’s social media community manager, I have found that sticking to a consistent posting schedule has been the key to successfully growing our social media presence. It helped us reach our most recent Facebook milestone, 100,000 fans!

To help you stick to your posting schedule, I thought I would share a few tips I’ve learned along the way:

1. Choose a theme

Each month, we decide on an overall theme for our content and brainstorm ideas for blog posts, guides, newsletters, and social media content that reflects the chosen theme.

Ideas that stem from these brainstorms help fill out my Facebook posting schedule for that month.

A theme will help you stay focused, but will also help simplify your content creation process. This means less time staring at a blank status box, wondering what you’re going to share each week.

2. Create a template

In our previous post, we included a few cheat sheets to help you create your social media schedule. But also make sure you have a template you are comfortable using when creating a schedule on your own.

To keep track of each month’s schedule, I use Excel — nothing fancy.

In the first column, I list out every day of the month, fill in the upcoming Constant Contact events, holidays, and anything else I want to remember.

My next columns are the time of day to post, content, character count (Excel formula =LEN(C1) ), topic, and content type.  I highlight the content column in yellow to draw attention to days where I don’t have a piece of content yet.

Here’s a peek at how it looks:

Content Calendar Jan2013

3. Use a calendar to fill your schedule

All of the content you share  doesn’t have to map to your monthly theme. One of the ways I mix things up, is by factoring in things like holidays and current events. I’ll even look at random holidays like National Compliment Day.

Having these days built in our schedule, takes a lot of the stress out of planning each month.

By focusing on days and current events that are relevant to your brand, and of interest to your audience, you can create fun and engaging content and improve your chances of sticking to your schedule each month.

You can also come up with re-occurring post ideas, based on the days on the week.  We post motivation quotes on Motivational Monday and on Fridays we share interesting statistics for Fun Fact Friday.

4. Find your sources of inspiration

Inspiration can come from a lot of places. For us, it starts with our audience.

By listening to our fans and followers, engaging with them on a regular basis, and paying attention to our social media insights — we’re able to learn what our audience is most interested in.

There’s a good chance that you have ‘real life’ relationships with your Facebook fans, and they share the passion you have for your business too. You can tap into these people for inspiration anytime you need it.

I also get a lot of inspiration from other brands. It’s great to see what other people in our industry are doing, as well as other brands who may not be speaking to the same audience as us.

Find the businesses that inspire you. If you have a relationship with the business owner, don’t be afraid to reach out to see how social media has worked for them.

5. Capture your ideas

It’s important that when you do have ideas for great social media content, you can capture them right away. There’s nothing worse than thinking about something you know your fans and followers will love, and then forgetting about it when it comes time to post.

I keep an ongoing document in Microsoft Word called, Future Facebook Post Ideas.  Once again, there’s nothing fancy about it. It’s just a running list of ideas that I can rely on every time I’m struggling to come up with posts.

Anyone could do this in a notebook or with an app like Evernote on their phone.

Stick with it!

Here at Constant Contact, we are lucky to have a team of people dedicated to maintaining and growing our social media presence. But even without a full team, you can use tips like these to help you stay active and focused on your social media goals.

As you get started, pay attention to the things that work for you. Everyone will have their own tricks for sticking to their schedule, the secret is finding a strategy that works for you!

Do you have other tips for sticking to a social media schedule? Post them in the comments below.