If you’re blogging, sharing your content on social media just makes sense.
But how can you really find the optimal blog and social media schedule that’s perfect for growing your audience?
That was the question a friend of mine asked me to answer at a recent Meetup—and a super-interesting one, too. Since CoSchedule is an editorial calendar that helps you plan your blog and social media, this seemed like a terrific opportunity to explore the perfect answer.
So I researched the heck out of the topic to really understand the best seven-step, data-driven formula to create consistent content and set up a social media schedule that will help you reach your goals. Enjoy!
Step 1. Publish Better Content Than Anyone in Your Niche
You’re thinking, “Yeah, yeah, I know.” But data is telling me that while content marketers know their content needs to stand out from the noise, 32% of us are creating pompous content that focuses on our businesses instead of being customer-centric. #fail
So quit fooling yourself by simply thinking your content is awesome, and prove it to yourself and your audience that your blog is actually worth their time.
Build a Solid Content Core
At CoSchedule, we like to solve this problem by understanding our content core. It’s that magical spot of finding what your audience really cares about and what you want to talk about.
Think of it like this:
While some folks like to get super-formal and create personas to understand their audience’s needs, this doesn’t have to be crazy time-consuming or process-driven:
- Talk to your support folks to answer your customers’ questions. I chat with Lance and Nicole on our Customer Success team all the time to get their advice on blog posts we should write to answer our users’ most-asked questions. Generally, that helps our customers use CoSchedule better than ever, and also helps us create very shareable content that fleshes out an awesome social media schedule.
- Survey your readers to get their input. When we did the Better Blogger Survey earlier this year, I learned a ton about our readers that helped us prioritize blog posts, which in turn helped us plan content better than ever, save a ton of time while doing it, and generally help us reach our publishing goals. Turns out, those are all things CoSchedule can help bloggers do, too, so it’s a perfect content core for us.
- Pay attention to what your audience is saying in general. There have been times when we’ve missed the mark on our blog posts. And it’s been super-insightful to read the blog comments from our readers that elaborate on what they expected to learn, which we then turn into blog posts. Paying attention to social media in any format—comments, Twitter chats, groups, etc.—has helped us really improve just by learning, and without spending a ton of time documenting a formal content marketing strategy. What an awesome way to improve your content core just by listening.
In general, just pay attention to your audience’s questions and challenges, and cover the best topics that they truly care about while subtly positioning your products or services as the solution. Done.
Rock the Skyscraper Technique
From here, take Brian Dean’s advice on creating even better content, now that you actually know what your audience really cares about. In one case study, this helped Brian grow his traffic by 110% in just 14 days.
In its most basic form, the skyscraper technique is researching the content that already exists for the blog post ideas you just found in your content core, so you can plan a way to create better content than anyone else.
This is how to do it for your blog schedule:
- From your content idea, research the keywords your audience may use to find a blog post on that topic. I use tools like Moz, SEMrush, and Google’s keyword planner to get us heading in the right direction at CoSchedule.
- Once you find the keyword you’ll target, search for it using Google (or whatever browser your audience uses the most) and read every result from the first two pages. At this point, you’re trying to understand what other folks have already published on the topic so you can publish something even better.
- Combine your research with what you’ll bring to the table: How will your content be better? Figure out how you’ll build and expand on the content that already exists, and what new ideas, theories, or best practices you’ll cover that no one else has talked about before.
To make sure your blog posts are really better than anyone else’s, there are a couple key components:
- They’re usually long-form to include more details and information than any other source. When we’ve used this technique in CoSchedule content, we’ve published posts ranging from 2,000 words to more than 4,000. It really depends on how detailed your “competition” content already is, because your goal is to outdo every other source. Skyscrapers are big, and your content should be, too, to stand out from the others.
- They look awesome. Make no mistake: A credible-looking website and blog builds trust, helps your readers understand your content faster, and keeps your audience coming back. Usability.gov found that a good-looking website scored a 4 out of 5 on the relative importance scale for credibility. Your awesome content should contain blog graphics to hook your readers within the first 100 words of your post, help your readers learn 60,000 times faster, and encourage more social media shares than text-based blog posts alone.
Brian wraps up the skyscraper technique with outreach marketing.
Now that you’ve published the best content on a topic, it’s time to reach out to any influencers you mention in your post to let them know you built upon their ideas. And you can ask relevant influencers with links to now sub-par content to link to your blog post instead because, hey, yours is better.
Step 2. Build Your Content Foundation
Now that you know what your audience cares about and how to publish better content than anyone else in your niche, it’s time to really focus on your blog schedule.
And it might surprise you that at first, your goal shouldn’t be about perfecting a schedule, but rather, perfecting your content and workflow process to build the expertise you’ll need to publish consistently. (highlight to tweet)
Let me explain.
It’s really OK to publish slowly at first. Your first few months of publishing—even if you’re already blogging and are now reading this to improve—are more about creating exceptional content and learning the workflow that goes into publishing that great stuff.
Dedicate Time to Learning and Content Creation
We’ve discovered that a majority of bloggers—61% to be exact—only spend two to three hours creating blog posts.
As you can imagine, if time is an indicator of quality (which is subject to debate), those posts that only take two hours to write may not be as good as something like Brian Dean’s post that covers all 200 of Google’s ranking factors. Brian says that post took him at least 20 hours to write, but it was totally worth it.
So your content foundation, especially since we’re talking about your optimal blog schedule, is this. During the next three months:
- Figure out your content core.
- Choose the best topics you’ll cover.
- Add those topics to your editorial calendar for the next six months using the beginner’s blog schedule above.
- Outline how you’ll apply the skyscraper technique to those topics.
- Create the content the best way you know how.
- Review the process to find ways to improve the workflow.
- Create your next blog post.
This means that you are prioritizing content quality over content consistency. In this stage of perfecting your blog schedule, the goal is to build your knowledge for content creation and momentum, knowing you won’t maintain the status quo for your publishing.
But as you create content this way, you can start to form a vague goal of what you’d like your publishing frequency to be in your next six months.
Your content foundation is necessary to build an audience—even though it starts small—because it’s the only way to build the trust that every piece you’ll publish in the future will be just as awesome.
Step 3: Set Up Your Goals to Find the Perfect Blog Schedule for You
Remember that information from usability.gov on credible-looking websites? One of the factors that impacts credibility is keeping your content up to date.
Now that you’re publishing awesome content, it’s really time to hone in on that whole consistency thing to build your audience and keep your readers coming back for more.
Determine Your Marketing Goals
The first step is to understand what you’d like your goals to be. We haven’t been shy about telling our audience about our goals at CoSchedule. They look a little like this:
We really focus on three of these:
- Growing traffic: We know traffic by itself means nothing, so we focus on optimizing our content for discovery and conversion, which leads into our second goal. Basically, we make sure every blog post is ready to convert traffic into subscribers.
- Growing email subscribers: This is-super important because we’ve found our email subscribers are more likely than any other audience type to convert into paying CoSchedule users, which leads into our third biggest goal.
- Growing customers: This is the goal of any marketing program, and we focus on this “building” structure to nurture visitors into leads, which we then focus on converting into CoSchedule users.
Note: You can see how once we focus on publishing awesome content, our social media schedule naturally focuses on helping us grow traffic, which is our first goal. Social media is only a tactic, yet it’s super-important for our growth strategy.
Use Data from Your Content Foundation to Plan a Better Blog Schedule
Content is data.
So now that you have your content foundation, you can look back and understand how your current content is performing to understand the best blog schedule that will help you grow.
In this example, the content foundation had 1,000 average page views per post. So if you want to increase your traffic to 8,000 pageviews, you may consider publishing eight posts a month in your blog schedule.
Now, this is not an exact science because there are other methods of growing traffic while publishing less content, but you can see how the goal of growing traffic influences the blog schedule publishing frequency.
Also, as your blog matures, traffic per post should increase. So maybe you could publish six posts a month and increase your promotion to grow your traffic.
See how that works?
The goal dictates what you prioritize while giving you the freedom to brainstorm different tactics to get there.
Step 4: Publish on the Best Days and Times
So now that we know we want to publish two blog posts a week to help us increase our traffic (which we’ll then focus on converting into email subscribers), a major part of the blog schedule is figuring out the best times to publish to get the most traffic for your hard work.
Publish at Historically Awesome Times
We researched the heck out of this idea a few months ago and found out the best time to publish a blog post is:
- Mondays at 9–11 a.m. for traffic
- Mondays at 7 a.m. for inbound links
- Tuesdays for the most social shares
- Thursdays at 7 a.m. for inbound links
- Thursdays at 9–10 a.m. for social shares
- Saturdays and Sundays at 9 p.m.–midnight for social shares
If you’re still thinking about our example above, you could use this data to prioritize your blog schedule publish times for Mondays and Thursdays, since you’re publishing two posts a week.
Find Your Own Best Time to Publish
From here, you can also test your publish dates using your own data and Google Analytics to understand the best times and days of the week that work best for reaching your own audience when they’re most active.
Because your goals are increasing traffic, subscribers, and ultimately customers, there are Google Analytics reports to help you run your own study using your own data to find the best days and times:
Your own data from your content foundation is the best way to know when to publish. When you’re ready for your next six months, gauge what days work best for publishing, then hone in on the best times after that.
Here’s what that plan might look like. This schedule takes you out another six months, giving you your blog schedule for an entire year:
After you nail this down, you can check out those Google Analytics reports to improve even further.
Step 5: Create Your Social Media Messages
Now that you’ve nailed down your blog schedule, it’s time to start thinking about promoting it with your social media schedule.
While you could just share the headline of your post once on each of your social networks, you won’t get the most out of your messages. That’s why it’s great to understand what content performs the best on each social network so you can tailor your messages accordingly.
Don’t get me wrong—it’s great and totally acceptable to share the same blog post on multiple networks—but you can write your messages to appeal to the different users across social platforms.
Let’s take a look:
There’s actually a huge post that covers this topic in a lot more detail if you’d like to check it out, but here are the main things to know as you craft your social messages you’ll use in your schedule:
- Twitter is for sharing useful tips. Help your followers do what they do better by sharing useful tips to help them improve something. Headlines with strong visuals do well considering the 140-character limit, but you can also mix up your messages with key points from your blog posts. Keep your tweets between 70–100 characters long, and include visual content like blog graphics.
- Facebook is for entertainment. People want to like and share content that anyone can enjoy, so videos, emotional visuals, and text around 100 characters long combined with inspirational, humorous, or cause-related messages do really well.
- LinkedIn is for skill building. Business content does well with case studies, how-to, and lists of things to improve your skills. Short messages with infographics, memes, and videos get the most engagement.
- Google+ is for technical content. This is similar to LinkedIn, just a lot more in depth. Google+ users tend to be more tech-savvy and value details, so use the rich-text formatting to draw on numbers, facts, stats, and the research you used in your post to draw on the techy interests from your audience on Google+. Videos and gifs definitely stand out.
- Pinterest is for visual learners. Remember when you included awesome blog graphics in your skyscraper content? This is the best channel for you to share those custom visuals (even YouTube videos), along with a helpful description that serves as a call-to-action to view the complete post on your own blog. The best-performing descriptions hit just more than 300 characters long combined with a positive message and keywords Pinners would use to find your content.
Step 6: Plan How Often to Share on Social Media
You have a ton of messages you could schedule to your social media accounts, so now it’s time to answer one of the most common questions our CoSchedule users ask us:
How many social messages should I schedule in a day for each social account?
The answer to this question has two parts.
Share Your New Blog Posts More Than Once
You could just share your awesome blog post once on each of your social networks when you publish. Or, you could share your blog post multiple times to get even more traffic for your hard work.
When we followed this formula, which is built right into our CoSchedule social media calendar, we saw an increase of 3,150% more clickthroughs than if we would have just shared our blog post once.
Essentially, it looks like this:
- On publish: Schedule a few social shares to your different social accounts using the messages you optimized for the varying networks.
- Same day as post: On some networks like Twitter, you can schedule a few messages per day to spread the word. Just use a couple alternative headlines or grab inspiration from the key points in your post to add variety to your social media schedule.
- Day after post: Keep the traffic rolling in with a few more messages.
- Week after post: Scatter more messages for the following week with varying text and graphics.
- Month after post: If your blog post is evergreen, there’s no reason to quit sharing it the week after you publish it. Get the most out of your content by scheduling a few social shares after your initial social media promotion has tapered off.
- ____ after post: We’ve heard of some folks even scheduling social shares for an entire year after their posts publish just to keep the traffic rolling in.
When you schedule lots of social media posts with tons of different messages, you can use that data to share only the best messages as your initial social schedule ends. Here’s a look at how to keep your daily frequency going, even with your older evergreen content.
Get the Most Out of Your Daily Posting Frequency by Sharing Older Content
We took a look at all of the content we could find on the best daily posting frequency to really understand how often you should post on social media.
The results were interesting:
- Twitter: 15 tweets per day
- Facebook: 1 post per day, 2 posts per day if your audience is more than 10,000 friends
- LinkedIn: 4 posts a week, nearly 1 every weekday
- Google+: 2 posts every weekday
- Pinterest: 9 Pins every day
So now that you know how often you’ll promote your new posts, you now can add in more social shares for your older content to help you generate the most traffic for your hard work.
This means you can promote the heck out of your new blog posts while dripping messages for that older content your fans, followers, and friends may have missed earlier.
Step 7: Set Up Your Social Media Schedule
You want to share a bunch of your blog posts on any given day at the right sharing frequency. The next step is to optimize the specific times you share your content to get even more traffic from your daily social shares.
Let’s take a look at the best times to post on social media:
Tweet anytime from 12–3 p.m. There’s also a big peak at 5 p.m., and workweek days tend to be the best, though some industries have super active audiences on weekends.
- Wednesdays at noon and from 5–6 p.m.
- Mondays–Fridays from 12–3 p.m. and 5 p.m.
- Try any day from 2–3 a.m., 6–7 a.m., and 9–10 p.m.
Facebook users tend to be super active from 1–4 p.m. late in the workweek and on weekends.
- Saturdays and Sundays from 12–1 p.m.
- Thursdays and Fridays from 1–4 p.m.
- Wednesdays at 3 p.m.
The best times to post on LinkedIn are right before work, during people’s coffee breaks and lunch breaks, and right after work. Post in the middle of the week from 5–6 p.m. to get the most traffic. This definitely makes sense for the most business-oriented social network!
- Tuesdays from 10–11 a.m.
- Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 7:30–8:30 a.m., 12 p.m., and 5–6 p.m.
People who use Google+ tend to check in right when they get to work in the mornings.
- Wednesdays at 9 a.m.
- Weekdays from 9–11 a.m.
Pinners use the visual bookmarking tool the most on weekends and late at night.
- Saturdays from 8–11 p.m.
- Any day 2–4 a.m. and 2–4 p.m.
- Fridays at 3 p.m.
So now that you know how often you should post on social media every day and the best times to post on your social networks, you can flesh out a daily social media schedule that will get you the most traffic for your super awesome blog posts.
This is what an optimized social media schedule looks like when you use CoSchedule as your blog and social media editorial calendar:
So there you go! Good luck as you optimize your blog schedule and get the most traffic out of your social media shares.
Thanks for reading, and if you liked what you read, I’d really appreciate it if you shared this with your friends. Thanks! 🙂
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